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Gay-themed advert prompts calls for boycott of Brazil cosmetics brand

Gay-themed advert prompts calls for boycott of Brazil cosmetics brand

A new commercial airing heavily in Brazil has prompted controversy and calls for a boycott because it features same-sex couples.

Cosmetic company O boticário (which translates as Apothecary) produced the commercial for Valentine’s Day (Dia dos Namorados), which falls on 12 June in Brazil.

The campaign is to promote its Aegean brand of unisex fragrances, and features four couples – include a male couple and a female couple – choosing the fragrance and presenting it to their partners.

The commercial began airing last week and immediately prompted a backlash on social media, with many commentators saying that they objected to children seeing the commercial and that it was ‘disrespectful to society and the family’. Many have said that they will not shop with O boticário again.

However, many others have praised the company for its positive portrayal of gay couples, some praising it as ‘campaign of the year’.

The company has invited comments on is Facebook page – prompting over 3,000 comments both for and against.

At the time of going to press, the official video of the commercial on YouTube had garnered 261,650 ‘likes’ and 163,999 ‘dislikes’.

According to G1, at least 20 complaints have been made to Brazilian organization Bonar, the National Council for Advertising Self-Regulation. The agency is expected to make a ruling within 45 days of receiving complaints, but until then, the advert will continue to be shown.

Responding to complaints O boticário released a statement saying that it believed in ‘the beauty of relationships’, and that the aim of the campaign was ‘to address with respect and sensitivity, the current resonance on the different forms of love – regardless of age, race, gender or sexual orientation.

It went on to say that the brand ‘values tolerance and respects the diversity of choices and points of view.’

Although Brazil offers legal equalities for LGBTI people, including hate-crime laws, same-sex marriage and gay adoption, Brazil has a poor record in relation to homophobic violence – with literally hundreds of reports of homophobic and transphobic murders each year.

The advert was praised by Ian Johnson, CEO with marketing organization OutNowConsulting, who said that it showed O boticário was forward-thinking and in tune with younger generations.

‘Companies today are wise to prepare their brands for 2020 and 2030,’ he told Gay Star Business.

‘Brands like this one in Brazil are doing the right thing on two levels: they are showing their brand to be one that understands “Marketing for Good” as a modern imperative, as well as one that understands the business future belongs to those brands that can show they genuinely support respect for the diversity extant in their own customer base.’

Responding to the widespread calls of a boycott of O boticário, one Sao Paulo-based writer said that the company was far from being alone in making a stand for LGBTI rights, and that calling for a boycott of O boticário alone was fairly futile gesture.

Writing on UOL James Cimino pointed to the fact that 379 companies in the US had signed an amicus brief this year urging the US Supreme Court to regulate in favor of same-sex marriage.

He went on to point out that if Brazilians who had an issue with gay relationships felt moved to boycott O boticário then they should also boycott Starbucks, Apple, Coca Cola, Visa, Disney, Amazon, eBay, Gillette, Microsoft and Facebook, among many others.