[EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve been given a serious factual correction by Michael, the Brazilian fixer who worked for the photgrapher on this shoot. Please see his comment below. Bottom line is he’s right and I was wrong in jumping to conclusions.
It turns out this girl is not a model, she is a person who works on picking nuts that supply the Body Shop in Maranhão, Brazil. So I was wrong here – I figured she was a model and wove a whole story around that.
Personally, I still have some questions about this choice of image and the decisions around this campaign, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that I missed the mark on this one. Thanks to Michale for the correction, and lesson learned for me that there tearing others down is not the right way to make a point.
I’ve edited my post somewhat. I still stand behind some of the points, but more importantly I think it’s only fair to leave up what I originally said — lesson learned on this one, though.]
I’m beginning to think that outdoor advertising is the lowest rung on the external communications ladder.
Yesterday I came across this terrible ad. Here’s a storytelling 101 suggestion: when you think your story is done, step back, look at it, and repeat it in 10 words or less to someone who’s never heard it before and who represents the people you are trying to reach. See what they say; ask them if the story makes sense to them.
So what is the (very low quality…sorry) “hand selected naturally!” image trying to say? Presumably that this woman had something to do with the hand selecting of the natural ingredients to your Body Shop products, and that this makes them more real, natural and authentic. [In fact she did, according to Michael’s comment, below.] Problem is, look at the woman — down to her designer short jean shorts and her $75 woven basket.
The image is so far off that it is borderline offensive. There are hundreds of millions of people out there who make their livelihoods in agriculture, and I’m sure many of them sell to the Body Shop. But somehow the Body Shop was unwilling to go all the way to authenticity in this campaign and with this image — finding actual Body Shop producers and telling their stories — and the whole house of cards comes crashing down.
The irony here is that people who buy at the Body Shop and who are passionate about the Body Shop are going to notice exactly this kind of thing. The brand was once about authenticity, natural ingredients, and our interconnected world, and it attracted educated consumers who likely care about things like the environment, the well-being of producers, and poverty in the developing world.
I guess it’s not surprising that this once-authentic brand has gotten so watered-down within L’Oreal that it’s lost all of its distinguishing charateristics — and the passionate followers who once made this brand great are gone as well.