Most companies try to avoid controversy. While it does get you a lot of press, there are too many chances for it to go wrong. Regardless, Amsterdam-based menswear company SuitSupply gave it a shot.
Founded in 2000, the suit startup, while previously courting controversy, made a name for itself as the place where convenience, quality, and price all meet. Last week the company debuted its new “Find your perfect fit,” ad campaign, which prominently features same-sex couples doing things like kissing and embracing. The ads were posted on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, in addition to appearing in SuitSupply stores across the globe.
The ad campaign, however, ended up exposing the lingering anti-gay sentiment that still runs deep in parts of society. The company said it had anticipated the reaction, but that a campaign featuring same-sex imagery was “overdue.”
“The attraction between people is an important part of fashion advertising,” said Founder and CEO, Fokke De Jong. “A campaign featuring the attraction between men was long overdue and particularly relevant for our brand.”
Yet, while the Dutch are a famously tolerant and open-minded, some followers on social media have voiced opposition to the gay-centric images. This resulted in the brand losing more than 12,000 followers on Instagram overnight. Others voiced their displeasure through Facebook; some outright said they would boycott SuitSupply, while others expressed disgust at the images. One particular image, of two men kissing, has gained over 600 comments, many of them negative.
“We do not aim to and cannot control the reactions. However, the new followers and positive messages that have been prominent in our social media is a good indicator that this campaign has been well received. And has impacted many people positively. It’s amazing what one kiss can do.”
Not all of the comments were negative though; many praised the company for its courage in going forward with the campaign while knowing it would provoke backlash. SuitSupply clearly believes in their principles, the strength of their brand and the willingness of the public (in Western countries anyway) to embrace this kind of advertising. Regardless, you have to admit that these same-sex ads are bold, eye-catching, and certainly gotten people talking.
You should also take a look at KFC and how they have the first woman to portray the iconic Colonel Sanders.
Daniel is an Art Director and Graphic Designer with over a decade of experience in advertising and marketing in the Greater Toronto Area.