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Thunderstorms in marketing-to-women land

We're not having an awfully good week in marketing-to-women land.

First there was L'Oreal, which was this week found guilty of racial discrimination by a French court over its all-white recruitment policy for its shampoo sales teams. In 2000, the company briefed its recruitment agency to find "BBR" (an acronym for the colours of the French flag and widely known to signify a person of white, French descent) women sized between 8 and 12. And this comes from the company that last year was accused of whitening Beyonce Knowles' skin in an ad. Indeed: because you're not worth it.

And then....then ladies and gentlemen, there's the Barcardi "Ugly Girlfriend" campaign brought to you this summer compliments of McCann Digital in Tel Aviv. Of course, by the time you read this, the company/agency has already taken the microsite of the campaign offline. Things go quickly these days. However, thanks to Copyranter, I've been able to get a few campaign visuals and some copy used in the campaign.

Bacardi, through Tel Aviv ad agency McCann Digital, launched a promotional mini-site (in English and Hebrew) for their fruit-flavored Breezer drinks with four "ugly girlfriends" for you to choose from, depending on the activity. Upgrade your trips to the beach with Sally." She's "97 kilograms of femininity, strength, and double chins." There's also Lucy, who's "rubbing thighs...and drooping breasts will turn any trip to the mall into an unforgettable experience."

As marketer the number of times presumably educated marketing people would have had the opportunity to pull the plug on this campaign along the chain of command, yet somehow didn't, doesn't cease to amaze me. In fact, it reminds me of this BMW ad.

I'm sure this campaign was made with the best of intentions. But laughing at someone else is always much easier than laughing at yourself, isn't it? And that's were this campaign goes wrong. This is school-bully humor. Humor to hurt and belittle people around you to make yourself feel better.

And really, I had hoped that we'd moved beyond that kind of humor to sell products. And even if Barcardi's target audience may still be trying to shake off their high school sense of humor, surely we shouldn't be encouraging it?