Mark Ritson has torn apart Lush Cosmetics’ new summer campaign in a scathing op-ed posted on Marketing Week.
The UK campaign titled ‘#SPYCOP’, centres on the police force entering the homes of activists between 1968 to 2008, and for Ritson, it not merely misses the mark, but more worryingly prods at the fragile relationship between the police forces and the public in 2018.
“It’s hard enough for the men and women in blue to protect us without this kind of branding drivel making that challenge all the harder.”
For the Business School professor, the campaign follows in the footsteps of Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner campaign and highlights the “moronic obsession” with brand purpose, leading to “another embarrassing, out of touch and entirely self-defeating bit of marketing stupidity.”
“It joins the pantheon of fizzy drinks brands trying to solve global disharmony, coffee brands aiming to remove racial tension and beer brands hoping to break down the barriers between transgender people and their critics,” he added.
Ritson goes on to calls the campaign “obnoxious, badly executed and in incredibly poor taste”.
“You sell soap, for fucks sake, what makes you think that elevates you to the position of starting a public campaign against the police?”
Undercover police officers have infiltrated the lives, homes, and beds of activists since 1968. Their roles were to infiltrate political groups and collect ‘intelligence’ about planned demonstrations and the individuals involved. 1/3 #SpyCops pic.twitter.com/llIfzNWGsv
— LUSH UK (@LushLtd) June 1, 2018
According to the professor, retired policemen in the UK have begun entering Lush stores and demanding the window displays be taken down.
It is somewhat easy to draw parallels between Lush’s mission statement, being ‘animal testing free, ethical, vegetarian and handmade’, and the company’s desire for a campaign centred on social purpose, Ritson said.
However clutching to any social justice issue as a way of underpinning the company’s do-gooding simply does not work, and points to a trend that “marketers are unhappy with the prospect of selling stuff.”
“Admitting you sell bath bombs and organic soap for a living is not good enough for these people. But working full time on social justice issues like police abuses of power – hey that’s more like it.”
“This ridiculous attempt to align the brand with social justice goes way too far. Clearly Lush is more than just cosmetics, but equally, clearly, it is not legitimately able to kick-start a debate on 20th-century undercover policing approaches.”
Despite ongoing criticism, Lush is apparently standing by the campaign.
According to Quartz, Lush’s ethical director Hilary Jones said, “We’re not going to abandon the victims in this.”
Read Riston’s full piece here.