Corporate America Sticks Both Feet In Its Mouth

Two companies this year have invested in splashy ad campaigns that seem to promote date rape: first Budweiser, now Bloomingdale’s.

Bloomingdale’s is the second large company this year to face accusations of promoting rape. In April, an ill-fated Bud Light label went viral: “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night.”
At the time, Francine Katz, Anheuser-Busch’s former highest-ranking woman, blamed the company’s lack of female employees for the creative stumble.Seventeen percent of full-time, salaried employees at the beer giant are women, a 2014 company report shows.

I don’t expect much from beer companies. They slipped up, they apologized, whatever. Bygones! But part of what’s fascinating to me about the Bloomingdale’s ad is that it’s targeting, and speaking to, men. It’s the lady in the ad who’s looking away laughing; the copy assumes we identify with the fella who’s sizing her up like Paul Spector from “The Fall.”

Are men really the ones flipping through the catalog, figuring out what they want to put in one of those Medium Brown Bags? (Available in tote form for $36!) Why wouldn’t the ad agency responsible for a big fancy department store focus mainly on targeting, and speaking to, women?

Meanwhile, Starbucks has pissed off a wholly different population by coming out with straightforward red cups in honor of the holiday season.

The iconic Christmas cup has featured several winter-themed designs since it first appeared in 1997. From minimalist snowflakes and hand-drawn reindeer to a winking snowman and decorative ornaments, each year the design is distinctive and different from the last.
This year’s holiday cup design is simplistic: an ombre from bright red to dark cranberry. While some Twitter users have praised the minimalist design, others think the cups are a “war on Christmas.”

Lots of people have pointed out that the supposedly “iconic Christmas cup” from Starbucks in years passed hasn’t exactly featured St. Nick holding a baby Jesus; all the company did was take out some snowflakes and other mainstream wintry symbols. But I guess people tend to read those as religious: Dunkin’ Donuts kept them this year and has been lauded for its courage. FWIW, the chain insists its red, green, and white “Joy” cups are not intended as a jab at its high-brow rival.

At a campaign rally, A+ Christian Donald Trump has suggested a Starbucks boycott and made it seem like he’ll be kicking out the Starbucks at the base of one of his Trump Towers (“That’s the end of that lease”). Will he only be running on Dunkin’ this winter? I can’t wait to find out!

Is all publicity good publicity? How much do any of these dust-ups affect your opinion of the brands/companies themselves? Or of, for that matter, Donald Trump?