Photo: Unilever (Screengrab)
Unilever in Germany has rolled out a campaign for its Du Darfst line of food products under the English tagline, “Fuck the Diet.”Needless, to say, it’s causing a bit of a stir. Giant packaged goods advertisers like Unilever and its archival, Procter & Gamble, make a corporate religion of avoiding needless controversy. Unilever spends $7.8 billion €6 billion a year, globally, on ads.
In Germany, the English F-word has become German slang for “let it be,” the company told Ad Age, and therefore sanitised enough for use in ads about the uselessness of diets.
Not all Germans are buying it. (They know whence the phrase came, after all.) On the Du Darfst Facebook page—which is modestly using asterisks, unlike the brand’s web site—commenter Natalie Shelton told Unilever:
We’ve just seen the ad … and it’s revolting. We’re both English and German speaking. Would your ad agency be giving away “Fick die Diat” buttons???? The German ad Industry just doesn’t understand that the word “fuck” is JUST NOT COOL! If you don’t understand the implications of what you’re saying, then don’t say it. Just because Hollywood says it’s cool, doesn’t make it cool. Your ad agency needs new copywriters urgently.
The campaign was created by WPP Group’s Ogilvy Dusseldorf. The client said in a statement:
“Although the current Du Darfst campaign has become a bit of a talking point in Germany — as effective marketing should — it is targeted specifically at German consumers and uses language that we do not believe most German consumers find offensive.”
Here’s the TV ad, followed by a translation:
You don’t want to count calories? Just let it be.
With Du Darfst you can enjoy food without regret.
Because Du Darfst means “you don’t have to.”
Just take what you want — Fuck the diet.
Du Darfst [you may].
Here’s the brand’s “F— the Diet page (click to enlarge):
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