'The D’ Stands for ... 'Dumb'
Um. So … that happened. A public service ad about vitamin D veered into “not suitable for work” territory. The messages “We all need the D. Even me!” and “How do you do the D?” are really not what marketers might expect to see coming out of Yukon Health and Social Services in Canada, but they did. The words appear in an ad right next to a posed, smiling, attractive young woman.
For those unfamiliar with the colloquial meaning of “The D,” check out this link to learn the definition and find out why the entire Web is talking about this campaign.
As of Tuesday, though, the ad was nowhere in sight on the government organization’s website or Facebook page.
But it was everywhere on the Internet, from Facebook to Twitter and beyond. “The D” irked at least one taxpayer.
“I wanted to take a quick second to express my profound disappointment and embarrassment at the now international trending ‘The D’ campaign that I, as a Yukon taxpayer, paid for,” writes David Goold on Tuesday on Facebook. “All you had to do was show one poster, any one of your posters to a teenager, just one teenager, or anyone under 35 years old, and they'd have told you immediately what you were doing wrong. Google ‘The D’ and it's the third result down. These are basic, rudimentary steps; the absolute bare-minimum level of market research, and you failed spectacularly. It's honestly staggering that this made it out the door, and I'd love to know who made the final call and just how much it cost for everyone to have a good laugh at our expense.”
Indeed, I learned about “The D” campaign from a friend on Facebook. I searched in Twitter for “Yukon, the D” and found a great deal of information, some of which I can share.
Those long winter nights in Canada... https://t.co/jCtpgYoIuV
— Diana Wolff (@di_wo) January 26, 2016
But mostly, the campaign reminded me to take my vitamin. It’s good for the skin.
So is YHSS getting the message? Was ‘The D’ campaign an oversight? Perhaps. But the government agency is doubling down.
Around noon on Tuesday, its Facebook page read:
“When trying to reach a young adult audience, Health and Social Services often reaches for provocative and humorous messaging, to great success,” reads the statement. “However, what was considered cheeky messaging on our Vitamin D campaign escalated to ribald humour, taking the campaign into graphic areas that were never intended. While the campaign had some unexpected results, such as being mentioned in BuzzFeed, we definitely hit our target audience and beyond. In fact, the very first sentence in the BuzzFeed article says: ‘Yukon Health and Social Services is running a campaign to remind people to take their vitamin D.’ This is the entire point of the campaign.”
By 1 p.m., the statement had two “likes” and three comments, including this one:
“I had to ask a younger person what it meant, lol,” Karin Stephens comments. “I would ask though, IF the campaign was intentional, why pull it?”
Meanwhile, the organization’s statement may leave just one thought in marketers’ minds.
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
What do marketers think it means? How important is it to have someone who understands popular culture on the marketing team?
Please respond in the comments section below.
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