Is our culture too sensitive?

Is our culture too sensitive?

I am sure that every man and his dog are currently airing their views and opinions about how diabolical Woolworths have been with their recent Valentine’s Day campaign and how it adds to a culture of chauvenism.

So let me add to the fray. Personally, I think that we, as consumers and as a nation, are being far too sensitive and are also potentially just looking to punch an already bruised and battered Woolworths.


In case you have been out of the loop for a while… The Woolworths Valentine’s Day advertising campaign was poking light-hearted fun at the simple stereotypical idiosyncrasies that we have typically all been exposed to in relationships in one way or another.

This ad campaign has not been well received. Not by any stretch of the imagination. This makes me worry that we are building a grey society; a society with a culture of intolerance; where brands and people are far too scared to say anything or voice an opinion for fear of offending someone!

Beware Of The Doghouse

When you compare this Woolworths campaign to one done by Saatchi for US Retailer, JCPenny and their: “Beware Of The Doghouse” campaign; where they too poke fun at the stereotype that men struggle to choose appropriate gifts for their loved ones. This campaign received rave reviews and critical acclaim for being a well crafted 360 degree marketing campaign that saw JCPenny increase their revenue and brand recall numbers,  both of which could be directly attributed to this campaign.

While I agree that there is a fine line that needs to be adhered to; I think marketers and communications experts are being hamstrung by a culture of over sensitivity and a reactionary audience that is looking for a crack in the surface to expose any brand as being in the wrong.

Brand Permission

In thinking about this; I have come to realise that There is a lot of be said for brand permission.

When we compare Woolworths to Nandos, who are famous for and expected to poke fun at people and scenarios, they have a level of brand permission which more than likely have seen them being celebrated for the “misogynistic ” campaign – as opposed to being lambasted as Woolworths have been.

While I do not condone or support extreme gender bias or discrimination. I have to be honest and say that we need to build a bridge here. No matter if the creative or the concept were perfectly resolved or not. This was always intended to be a light-hearted campaign that – on the surface – we can all indentify with.

But even at the core of it; the Woolworths Hash Tag for the campaign was #lovealwayswins…. Does that in itself say that Woolworths are tollerant of difference?! They they do not care about your version of love?! That they support love in its simplest form!?

Our cultural and societal knee-jerk reaction to point a finger is what worries me and forces me to think that if we continue on this path of creating a grey culture; a society of mediocrity is what our product will be. If we are encouraged to have and voice an opinion, then we must be tollerant of receiving others opinions. Especially if those opinions do not come into the same paradigm or frame of reference as ours.