Coffee bean distributor roasted over porn-inspired ads takes down Facebook page

308

A Perth-based coffee company was bombarded with criticism this week over the sexual nature of its social media advertising, leading the company to take down its Facebook page.

Coffee distributor Fresh One, also known as Fresh Boost, bore the brunt of Collective Shout, the grassroots activist movement behind a recent campaign against the “sexist” advertising of razor company Schick.

Only this time the activists say they didn’t start the campaign against Fresh One and assert it was hundreds of general Facebook users who were first to criticise the company on its Facebook page.

However, once Collective Shout got involved earlier in the week, the criticism stepped up. The movement’s Caitlin Roper told SmartCompany Fresh One’s Facebook star rating then went from five stars to one-and-a-half stars.

Roper says Collective Shout objected to pornographically-inspired imagery including explicit sexual acts.

Fresh One replied to the criticism on Monday, defending its marketing.

“There has been a lot of comment posted via social media over the last few days focused on the marketing and branding of our coffee business,” said the retailer. “It is clear that there exists a group that is highly focused on one particular orientation of our branding, that they have dubbed the ‘sexualisation and objectification of women’.”

Fresh One said the coffee industry had traditionally advertised itself in very conservative ways and it wants to stand out from its competitive providers.

“Fresh One is about an approach to life, it’s about living to 100%, challenging the status quo!” said the company.

“It is important to note that it has not been at any time nor will be in the future the intention of Fresh One to degrade, sexualise or objectify any person, gender or cultural group … Whilst we can appreciate a person’s right to express their ultra conservative views, we vehemently defend our right to promote our brand in the evocative and gregarious way we do,” said Fresh One.

The post goes on to say the Fresh One Facebook page is not a forum for negativity.

“So whilst we are happy to engage in debate and accept minority groups’ commentary, we will not tolerate ongoing degradation on our site. If a person cannot accept that others may have a different perspective to them in life then please direct your attention elsewhere,” said Fresh One.

By Thursday morning, the Fresh One Facebook page had been taken down. Fresh One has been contacted for comment, but SmartCompany has not received a response prior to publication.

Roper says Collective Shout has encouraged its supporters to boycott the company.

“I think a lot people think, ‘I know how to appeal to a younger market, we’ll just use porno-inspired content and we’ll look edgy’, and it doesn’t do that,” says Roper.

“It’s been done so many times and using sexism to sell products tends to alienate women and men who respect women,” she says.

“They’re not people objecting to sexual images, but to the degradation. [Fresh One] think by using sexually explicit images of women they’re challenging the status quo and by throwing around words like ‘evocative’ and ‘gregarious’. But criticism of Fresh One’s outdated misogyny is not conservative, it’s progressive,” says Roper.

Michelle Gamble, founder and chief executive of Marketing Angels, told SmartCompany it is never a good idea to advertise so provocatively.

“Part of the current cultural climate is that feminism is having resurgence,” says Gamble. “People are really objecting to objectifying women in all parts of life, not just ads.”

“Aside from it being wrong, it also alienates more than 50% of their customers,” says Gamble.

Gamble says its good marketing practice to listen to your customers when they complain and get rid of ads that offend, rather than defending them. She says she wasn’t surprised a company that thought such advertising was a good idea hadn’t responded well to a feminist group.

She also said taking down a Facebook page is never a good look.

“You should be there on the ground dealing with it directly,” says Gamble. “If you put ads like this up, if you try to provoke, you can’t be cowardly [when it backfires].”

Gamble says while there has been a rise in activist groups, it is not activists that a company should be concerned about.

“I wouldn’t be worried about upsetting activist groups. They should be more frightened of putting off 50% of their customer base,” she says.

Image credit: Flickr/kadluba

Advertisement
Kirsten Robb is the newest member of the SmartCompany team. Previously, she worked at News Corp as a property reporter for Leader Newspapers and the Herald Sun, and holds a Masters of Journalism at Melbourne University.

We Recommend

FROM AROUND THE WEB