Has Bloomingdale’s Spiked Its Brand?

I have faith that marketers will agree “rapey” is not quite the word you want associated with your brand. Even Bloomingdale’s agrees with that now. On Wednesday, a brand spokeswoman sent Target Marketing an apology for the ad in its catalog that appears to encourage date rape.

Bloomingdale’s is yet another company that could’ve prevented this brand reputation fiasco by implementing just one tip I’ve been advocating for years: Hire a diverse workforce. Ignorance is no longer a defense.

While it’s a false equivalency, I say the same marketers who used to roll their eyes about the importance of mobile and social media marketing now get it, because forecasters believe most shopping will soon happen on mobile devices and social media marketing is yielding results. Hopefully soon, marketers will understand that diversity on marketing teams is valuable, too.

I believe any woman who worked on this ad would’ve seen how offensive it was and would’ve stopped Bloomingdale’s from offending its female buyers — a good percentage of its customers. But Julia Austin, Bloomingdale’s OVP of public relations who responded to Target Marketing’s request for comment on Wednesday, specifically didn’t answer my question, “Did any women work on that ad?”

“In reflection of recent feedback,” she did say, “the copy we used in our recent catalog was inappropriate and in poor taste. Bloomingdale’s sincerely apologizes for this error in judgement [sic].”

As noted by one of Target Marketing’s readers in past posts and actor Angelina Jolie, rape is also not a women’s issue, it’s everyone’s issue. Yet this may be perceived as simply “sexism” by many marketers and ignored, because they see it an honest mistake in an attempt at a clever ad, rather than being seen as a depiction of the violent crime that it is.

Marketers may, instead, think Snapchat being devalued is a more applicable article to their everyday lives. Let’s test that theory together. Which article will get more clicks and, therefore, be seen as more valuable to you?

In the meantime, here’s what consumers are saying about Bloomingdale’s ad:

Why else would a brand OK an ad showing possible drink tampering?

Please respond in the comments section below.

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.