New Jersey is sometimes not-so-lovingly referred to as the "armpit of America" perhaps because of the shape of the state or the odors that emanate from its northern industrial region. But that doesn't mean you can joke about it in company marketing.
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Unilever's Dove learned that when New Jersey residents responded in an uproar to a billboard that advertised deodorant. The ad read: "Dear New Jersey, When People call you 'The Armpit of America,' take it as a compliment. Sincerely, Dove"
Offended Facebook users posted on Dove's page in response to the ad.
"Memo to Dove advertising (aka idiots): good luck selling in NJ. I will not buy a Dove product again," one Facebook user wrote.
Unilever, which owns dozens of brands from Pond's, Axe, Degree and Ben and Jerry's, is based in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.
Unilever responded to Facebook users with the statement: "Thank you for your comments. With our 'Dear New Jersey' advertisement, Dove deodorant never intended to upset the residents of the state. As a result of your feedback, Dove deodorant will not be moving forward with publishing or displaying this ad."
Matthew McCarthy, senior marketing director of antiperspirants and deodorants at Unilever, explained the idea behind the ad.
"We did not wish to cause any misunderstanding and apologize for any offense. Our intent with the 'Dear New Jersey' billboard, which was one of many ads for our campaign, was to call attention to the fact that armpits can and should be considered beautiful and ask women everywhere to accept this as something that is okay," he said in a statement. "As a New Jersey-based company and longtime supporter of many charitable organizations in the state, we will instead be donating this billboard space to one of them."