The male and female versions of Woolworths' Valent
The male and female versions of Woolworths' Valentine's Day campaign (Timothy Rangongo, Business Insider South Africa)
  • A Woolworths Valentine’s Day campaign has backfired after social media outrage.
  • The campaign featured several statements that portrayed small relationship irritations - such as “she orders a salad then steals your chips”.
  • Woolworths said the campaign was intended to be a light-hearted reference to cliché characteristics in many relationships.
  • But commentators slated its use of stereotypes.

Woolworths pulled its nationwide Valentines day campaign after widespread social media outrage over gender stereotyping.

The campaign, which was first spotted in Woolworths stores on Monday morning, features a series of statements meant to describe a typical relationship, followed by the slogan “love always wins”.

“She orders a salad then steals your chips; she takes forever to get ready; she snuggles you to the edge of your bed; she uses your razor to shave her legs; she makes you her Instagram husband; she says she’s ‘fine’ when you know she’s not,” the female version of the advert reads.

The male version of the advert read: “He touches your hair; he doesn’t know the title to ‘your song’; he makes plans without telling you; he uses the wrong emoji’s in text messages and believes he’s entitled to the remote control; he thinks he knows better than Siri.”

(Timothy Rangongo, Business Insider South Africa)
(Timothy Rangongo, Business Insider South Africa)

“He uses your perfume for air freshener,” another version read.

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On social media, consumers ridiculed Woolworths for using gender stereotypes.

Comedian Lindy Johnson commented “: This is so lazy, these stereotypes sound like they come from 2001 Jennifer Lopez movies.

“I want to vomit,” ‏@thisismandy said in response to the campaign to which @hannah___D replied, “You hold my hair back first”. 

@HCSCHEEPERS tweeted “: @WOOLWORTHS_SA  - please find someone else to do your marketing. It's very hard for us to find decent goats milk every time we have to boycott you for your tone-deaf nonsense.”

The ads seemed entirely playing with heterosexual stereotypes, with no versions for gay or lesbian relationships.

Woolworths apologised for causing offence after the campaign wasn’t received as intended.

“The intention behind our Valentine’s Day campaign was a light-hearted reference to the clichéd idiosyncrasies within so many relationships, rather than any gender stereotyping,” a Woolworths spokesperson told Business Insider South Africa.

Jeremy Sampson, form brand expert Brand Finance Africa, said it never ceases to amaze him how badly some companies treat their brand identities.

“This tactical move seems to say: we had to do something, anything, because it’s Valentine's,” Sampson told Business Insider South Africa.

He said that perhaps the advert could be considered a success as Woolworths is taking away airtime from its competitors.

“[But the] bottom line is: what will it do to sales?”

For more, go to Business Insider South Africa.

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