Durex got itself into a bunch of trouble in South Africa last week over a botched social media campaign, reports Peet Van Ardt at News 24.
The campaign was focused around the #DurexJoke hashtag. The company’s account @DurexSA tweeted out sex jokes, and encouraged the Twitterverse to join it.
Durex was bound to cross the line eventually.
And it did. Here’s the joke that it tweeted out (via memeburn):
Obviously, it was in bad taste, even from a company in a business based on sex.
But as Jessica Phelan at the Global Post points out, a joke that like is particularly unfunny in South Africa, a country where more than one-in-four men have admitted to raping at least one person and has a notorious history on the subject. And it came the day before the nation’s 16 Days of Activism campaign against the abuse of women and children.
Local activist group FeministSA led the charge vocally against Durex, and a barrage of complaints ensued amid calls for a boycott. A simple apology might have ended it right there, but Durex doubled down.
The company refused to apologise, told folks to get a sense of humour, and kept tweeting out jokes for the rest of the day. It finally bowed from the pressure the following day, deleted the tweets and dumped the blame on its local PR agency. Hardly a sufficient way to make it up to all the people offended.
Durex’s campaign was designed to be edgy and stir up controversy by pushing boundaries, but it likely wouldn’t have had such a huge backlash if it paid more attention to context. A joke like that might not have flown anywhere, much less South Africa. In one of its apology tweets to FeministsSA, Durex said: “You reminded us that rape and violence against women is still a major concern in SA.”
Of course it is. Isn’t it a concern everywhere?
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