Magnum Opus 2: Kudos Unilever and Marketing-360
The recent Magnum Ad Campaign in Pakistan created a bit of a furore (see earlier post). On a forum dedicated to marketing there were many streams of thought: from those yelling blue murder, through some extolling the 'liberal' tilt of the ad, to the obvious ones betraying their juvenile excitement of being able to use phrases on the forum that they would not use with the same aplomb at home - even when discussing the Magnum issue. However, one view that particularly saddened me was the expression of helplessness among some who felt that views discussed on such fora are in effective.
The ads are gone and here's a part of what happened:
• Dear Ms Musharaf Hai, I have always admired your leadership and innovation skills; Levers Pakistan has certainly benefitted from the same. I am a keen member of the marketing subgroup which is a group of Paki professionals (incl some from Unilever) and we have been debating the 'relevance' of the sexual context of the MAGNUM CAMPAIGN esp some females have made some strong comments that I highlight below. I am sure as a WOMAN and as a socially responsible organization; you will take notice of the same; if you haven't already that is. I wish Levers and Magnum success; while maintaining its image and reputation in a society which isn't yet ready for provocative content in advertising. Regards and all the best Imran O Kazmi MD Synergize Dubai, UAE
• Dear Mr Kazmi, We greatly appreciate your concerns, and would like to inform you that the Walls Magnum Caramel advertising campaign has already been withdrawn last week. As you are undoubtedly aware, Walls Magnum is internationally positioned on "Indulgence", and this advertising campaign was produced in keeping with this international strategy. There was no intention in any way to upset Pakistani cultural sensitivities. Unilever Pakistan regrets if the feelings of any member of the public have been upset. Walls treasures its relationship with the people of Pakistan and will not allow any issue to affect this special bond. Thank you for taking your time to write to us and expressing your concerns as these are extremely important to us. Kind regards Sher Afzal Mazari GM Corporate Affairs Unilever Pakistan Ltd
• Dear Group Members I forward Mr Mazari's response on the Magnum Ad; personally I appreciate the sensitivity displayed by Levers Pakistan - I do believe that creative fields border on the fine line between sanity and insanity, between light and the dark, between elation and sorrow and between euphoria and hatred; the person creating an ad has always to walk this fine line of perceptions. Well done Levers! Regards Imran O KazmiHere's my letter to the Forum; I wanted to share it with those not on its mailing list.
Through the forum I'd like to extend a very special thanks to Unilever for their sensitivity and for taking an action that must have proved very expensive and difficult to execute in such a short space of time. At the same time, I'd like to also address those who said (and even more who constantly feel) that individuals or small groups are powerless and cannot achieve anything: As you can see, this is not so. One should never hold back because of feelings of disempowerment. Remember Gandhi's words: Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.
In some discussions, on and off the forum, there was a constant undercurrent of criticism that Unilever has a brilliant woman at the helm of affairs and this should not have happened. Some felt it may have slipped past her. Now we hear a few voices saying that Ms Hai must have had them removed. Regardless of who took the final action, I wonder why the onus of sensitivity and morality is expected to rest on women? Do men in similar positions have no responsibility? And what about the responsibility on those who actually produced the commercial, acted in it, directed it, regardless of gender? None of them seem to have been forced into it as a result of poverty. Perhaps some of them had to do this as a job and had no option. Accepted. But, in such cases, I'd say: do so while registering your protest or dissent.
Let us not, in our rush to judgement of corporations, forget that every single one of us makes up this society and has a right and a duty to express views if s/he disagrees for more than mere personal reasons.