Good turned to bad turned to worse for Bayer recently as a Brazilian aspirin ad took home a Cannes Lions award--and then ignited a firestorm on social media. And now, the German pharma is the one with the headache.
The company has disowned the controversial ad--which snatched up a bronze Lion--amid an uproar from critics condemning it as sexist, and it’s vowed not to let the campaign ever air again, Adweek reports. The drugmaker also says maker AlmapBBDO--not Bayer--paid to run the ad, targeting judges at Cannes rather than consumers.
The ad, which displays the text, “Don’t worry babe, I’m not filming this.MOV," seemingly recommends the over-the-counter headache remedy to those who have been nonconsensually recorded during sexual activity. And last week, Cindy Gallop--former president of global advertising firm Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s U.S. arm--took to Twitter to express her discontent, inspiring others to do the same.
Bayer--while it did approve the ad for “limited placement” in Brazil--told Adweek the company hasn’t done any advertising for the aspirin brand for “several years.”
In response to Bayer’s moves, AlmapBBDO withdrew all of its Bayer work from the festival, with BBDO global creative chief David Lubars labeling the ad “pretty scammy.”
He told AlmapBBDO to return the Lion, he said, because “I don't want that kind of Lion. BBDO doesn't want that kind of Lion."
Things still don’t look great for the Leverkusen-based drugmaker, though, which boasts a longstanding relationship with BBDO. Back in 2014--as Bayer was working to fold in the brands it picked up in through its $14.2 billion buy of Merck’s consumer unit--it handed its biggest spending brands to the agency, including Claritin, Afrin and Dr. Scholl’s in the Americas.