Scare Tactics Must Go.
No matter how many years go by, there is still one campaign that haunts me in my sleep. Now before I say anything else, and you start thinking this is going to be a brand-bashing brawl, I would like to say that I absolutely adore this company. It creates wonderful products, has great corporate social responsibility, stays natural and organic, and doesn’t test on animals. That company is LUSH, the cosmetic brand that prides themselves on ethical buying, green living, handmade products, cruelty-free testing, and lots and lots of charity work. Not to mention, their products are amazing. My skin glows because of them; thanks kudos to you for that, LUSH.
So here’s my issue: they go a bit too far for my liking with their campaigns. Case in point: three years ago, in a PR stunt designed to fight against animal testing in the cosmetic world, LUSH turned their London shop window into a stage for a performance you would wish you hadn’t seen. Artist Jacqueline Traide was center stage for 10 hours, playing the role of an animal while a male “scientist” took charge as if they were in a cosmetic lab. She was dragged on the floor, injected with things I don’t want to know about, had her head shaved and her mouth held open with hooks, as she was force-fed different items. Products were tested on her skin and eyes in front of a live pedestrian audience that was likely as innocent as the animals she represented. The “show” got more and more gruesome as time went on.
Now, if you’re reading this and you’re thinking to yourself, “hell yeah activism at all costs,” we may not see eye to eye. I am 100% for animal activism, but I believe there are much better ways to advertise your product and get your message out without using scare tactics like this. Plus, the whole male “scientist” dominating and abusing the passive, female “animal,” seemed to just add another layer of wrong – something that isn’t the core message of the LUSH brand at all. If I walked by the LUSH window and was greeted by a young university student dressed in a flesh colored leotard having her eyeballs poked and prodded, I would probably never go near that store again.
In the end, the impact that PR campaign had on me was quite the opposite of what LUSH intended. I took a lot of time thinking about whether or not I still wanted to support a brand that goes to such extreme measures. Plain and simple, extremists freak me out. If you want people to avoid products that go through animal testing to eliminate the demand to decrease the supply, why not try having fluffy, cute bunnies running around the store or sectioned off in an area, and when people ask why, you say it’s because you want to save them from being tested on (and ask them to sign a petition). You could have a day where store visitors are able to adopt the animals that have been rescued from testing facilities! There are so many opportunities to turn the horrible situation of animal testing into a chance for people to positively get involved, end the situation, and leave them feeling happy that they walked by. After all, LUSH is still a brand selling products, and these campaigns can have long-term effects.
At the end of the day, I have one request: please, for the sake of all human kind, quit it with the scare tactic approach and use a smart, responsible way to advertise that makes people feel good. It works.
~ Emily DiLaura, Summer Associate, The S3 Agency