Dove's billboard attempting to redefine New Jersey's reputation as the "Armpit of America" seems to be getting the state in quite a lather. The backlash, while not unexpected, is especially notable considering the billboard won't even go up until July.
"Dear New Jersey," the Unilever billboard says, "when people call you 'The Armpit of America,' take it as a compliment. Sincerely, Dove."
With its North American headquarters based in New Jersey, Unilever swears the outdoor board is positive.
"The message that we want to get out there is that the armpit is not a bad thing," senior marketing director Matthew McCarthy tells The New York Times, "and that we stand for caring for the armpit."
Not everyone seems to share that assessment of the message.
"I can think of a another body part to describe the person who thought up this ad," notes a commenter on News 12.
Several commenters on NJ.com say they'll be boycotting Dove products over the billboard. Others are encouraging readers to write to Unilever about their anger toward the ad. My favorite commenter, though, handles it like a true New Jerseyan: "I guess it's OK to be the armpit. Kansas is the butthole."
UPDATE: Following the criticism, Dove is ditching the billboard plan entirely. Matthew McCarthy, senior marketing director of antiperspirants and deodorants at Unilever, tells The New York Times in an email: "Our intent with the 'Dear New Jersey' ad was to call attention to the fact that armpits can and should be considered beautiful and ask women everywhere to accept this as something that is O.K. We did not wish to cause any misunderstanding or offense. We take feedback from our community very seriously and will not be running this billboard advertisement."