A few days ago, Dove unveiled plans to post billboards in The Garden State that would declare, “Dear New Jersey, when people call you ‘The Armpit of America,’ take it as a compliment. Sincerely, Dove.”
The company was hoping to send the message that an armpit is actually quite a lovely thing, and assumed the majority of its audience would understand and appreciate the joke. Matthew McCarthy, the senior marketing director of deodorants at Unilever, told The New York Times last week, “I don’t expect that there will be a lot of people who misunderstand, but to the degree that they do, we’ll be open about what we’re really trying to say…The message that we want to get out there is that the armpit is not a bad thing, and that we stand for caring for the armpit.”
Talk about misreading your audience — Unilever may want to invest in a new crystal ball.