Old Spice recently sponsored a contest via all-things-manly blog, ‘The Art of Manliness,’ which focuses content on “uncovering the lost art of being a man”. The blog’s editors are husband and wife team, Brett McKay and Kate McKay, who have (according to them) some 19,000 subscribers.
The McKays’ contest sought out the man “who represents the ideals that The Art of Manliness represents. We want to honor this man and give him $2,000 in cash.” Now, W+K is the AOR for Old Spice. How much they had to do with this blog (from green-lighting sponsorship of the blog to be being involved in the contest) is still unclear.
The man the blog chose as the winner is considered to be an outspoken right-wing fundamentalist of sorts. The honorary title (voted upon by the site’s readers) went to Matthew L. Chancey. But upon his nomination (and ever since), Web chatter about the 32 year-old’s personal beliefs sprung up over the last few days.
Chancey is an aspiring far-right politician who has performed work under the Christian Reconstructionist-oriented banner and also is an integral part of a Texas-based organization called Vision Forum. Stay with me here. Vision Forum is headed up by a guy named Doug Phillips who empowered his base of followers to help Chancey clinch the win. Vision Forum believes in homeschooling, that Jesus is the only lawmaker, that homosexuality is evil and that women should be obedient to the law of men. From the website:
“Homosexuality is not a victimless crime. It is a cruel moral perversion that wreaks moral, physical and spiritual havoc on men, women, children, families and institutions. The Bible makes no distinction between homosexuals, pedophiles, bestials and rapists. All are criminals, the toleration of which brings judgment on the land and devastation to children.”
Phillips is also the publisher of Chancey’s wife, Jennifer’s, books. She is a “a popular speaker on matters of wifely submission and ‘faithful’ daughterhood (namely, eschewing college to stay under a father’s protection until marriage).” Chancey’s wife Jennifer has also spoken publicly about her opposition to women voting and that women shouldn’t vote or hold public office.
Popular blog Queerty has penned an editorial about Chancey that asks the pertinent questions: “How did such an awful person get named Old Spice Man of the Year, hot on the heels of using Neil Patrick Harris as a spokesperson?”
Neil is openly gay. Neil was part of the campaign from created by Wieden & Kennedy for the Old Spice brand. Alas, the internet decided that Chancey was the winner based on a set of ideals that sum up an Old Spice man including doing the right thing, even when it’s not convenient and has a confident swagger, but isn’t a pompous jerk. Yeah. Okay. Of course, many of the voters didn’t know of Chancey’s beliefs from the entry submitted to the site. And the Old Spice site says that: “It was not possible, or even desirable to quiz each candidate about their political, religious, and social views.”
Forget Chancey’s politics for a second, whether you agree or disagree. From the brand’s perspective, this is a FAIL, an epic one. If Old Spice was going to choose a man whom satisfies their brand messaging than they MUST check backgrounds. Of course. Otherwise, brands open themselves up to a PR disaster such as this and this ain’t no small thing. If brands are going to give the reins to the public, then one must vet. It’s why many consumer campaigns let millions enter, narrow it down to some top choices after vetting and THEN let the public decide. Duh.