Dove and Wendy’s battle ageism

Sources: Twitter/@DoveCanada; @WendysCanada
Sep 08, 2022

Dove and Wendy’s in Canada have both launched campaigns against ageism in support of a beloved Canadian news anchor who was relieved of her duties, allegedly for letting her hair go gray.

Last week, Dove Canada launched a #KeepTheGrey campaign across its social networks, urging people to change their profile pics to greyscale in support of those who choose to embrace their gray hair.

“Age is beautiful. Women should be able to do it on their own terms, without any consequences,” the post read. Dove also donated $100,000 to Catalyst, an organization advocating for inclusive workplaces for women.

Wendy’s on its Canada Twitter account swapped Wendy’s red pigtails for a gray shade. The accompanying comment read, “Because a star is a star regardless of hair colour.”

Sports Illustrated retweeted its cover that featured 74-year-old model Maye Musk, the mother of Elon Musk.

Lisa LaFlamme, 58, was relieved of her duties in mid-August after a 35-year career with CTV news, the last 11 as an anchor. Social media erupted after a Globe and Mail report indicated management had questioned Ms. LaFlamme’s decision to stop dying her hair blond during the pandemic.

Bell Media, CTV’s parent company, said it wanted to shift in a “different direction” and denied Ms. LaFlamme’s hair color had anything to do with her exit.

Dove’s execution was praised because the stance aligned with the brand’s long-running “Real Beauty” platform. However, retail consultant Bruce Winder said brands that take a stand on hot-button issues, such as ageism and sexism, may come off as appearing opportunistic and expose themselves to scrutiny from consumers. He told CBC, “You better make sure your house is in order before you start throwing this out there.”

It’s also uncertain how campaigns around ageism will resonate with consumers. The 2017 Cone Communications CSR Study found the top issues consumers wanted companies to help solve were job development, 94 percent; racial equality, 87 percent; women’s rights, 84 percent; cost of higher education, 81 percent; immigration, 78 percent; climate change, 76 percent; gun control, 65 percent; and LGBTQ rights, 64 percent.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see Dove and Wendy’s recent campaigns around ageism as timely, opportunistic or risky? Where do you see ageism ranking as an issue for brands to openly support and build campaigns around?

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"I don’t see a downside, unless the efforts become defined by unhealthy and embarrassing stereotypes and caricatures."

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13 Comments on "Dove and Wendy’s battle ageism"

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Mark Ryski

I understand the motivation of these brands to latch onto themes of the day, and ageism is one of them. The move to embed these themes into marketing messages is opportunistic, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea or even risky. Ageism is an issue, and brands that can tap into these issues in some meaningful way, should do so if they believe it will resonate with their audience.

Zel Bianco

This will continue to be a hot topic as Baby Boomers get stuck in the crosshairs of issues like this one. Women should not be put into this position. It is simply wrong. The fact that men do not generally need to deal with this makes taking a stand on it less risky than Bruce Winder suggests.

Georganne Bender

Thank you, Zel. You get it!

Dion Kenney
16 days 5 hours ago

Advertisers focusing on ageing and ageism is both timely and opportunistic. Timely because this segment of the population is still an accepted basis for bias and discrimination. Opportunistic because, well, marketing is opportunistic by its very nature, and there’s no better way to gain visibility than to join a noisy and timely conversation on the right side of history. Is it risky? I don’t see a downside, unless the efforts become defined by unhealthy and embarrassing stereotypes and caricatures.

Dave Bruno

Yes, these recent campaigns from Dove and Wendy’s are opportunistic, but not all that risky. Because both brands have authentic voices sharing opinions on important issues. Authenticity and your brand’s track record determine risk and, in this case, I think both brands have earned the right to take a stand. And I think they did the right thing for their brands as well as the issues they supported.

Georganne Bender

I watched Mack & Rita last night, Diane Keaton’s new movie about a 30 year old who turns 70-something over night. Keaton looks wonderful, rocking fashions you can’t find in stores, and showing that age is just a number. Except in real life.

We all know that ageism is real and that women are not allowed to age gracefully. Gray hair on TV? Nope. It isn’t fair and it isn’t new. Did Lisa LaFlamme lose brain cells because she stopped dying her hair? Did that change make her any less effective at her job? Of course not.

I don’t view Dove and Wendy’s efforts as opportunistic or risky, and I applaud both companies for stepping up because what they are doing is important. Sadly, nothing will change. At least not in this Boomer’s lifetime.

Lisa Goller

These campaigns celebrating age as beauty are timely — and necessary.

When Lisa LaFlamme was fired, the online uproar was swift and ferocious. Dove and Wendy’s seized the moment, transforming consumers’ incredulity into allyship with older women.

It’s a refreshing, inclusive view. As Millennials and Gen Zers increasingly influence corporate direction, these anti-ageism campaigns counter hurtful “OK, Boomer” hints of obsolescence.

Gene Detroyer

Until a male newscaster is fired for having gray hair or no hair at all, this should be considered pure misogyny. Don’t dance around what happened here.

BRAVO to both companies for pointing out hypocrisy.

Evan Snively

This fits squarely into Dove’s brand voice and Wendy’s quite honestly has earned the right to be opportunistic and get involved in pretty much any conversation. Dove’s position obviously holds more authentic weight and not just any brand could jump straight into the conversation. As long as brands start entering these conversations consistently and in their own channels vs. really pushing for PR, the values alignment angle is a good strategy to fortify brand loyalty.

Shep Hyken

Age discrimination is, unfortunately, alive in the workplace. DEI is a popular topic, and typically focuses on race, ethnicity, disabilities, sexual orientation, religion, etc. Often left out is the age discrimination.

A 2022 study by LiveCareer, “Older People & the Workplace,” revealed some intriguing findings regarding age-related stereotypes and discrimination. Here’s a big one: 8 in 10 respondents claimed age stereotypes were still alive in the workplace. And one more: If you are 50, 69% of the people you work with think you are old.

Good for Dove and Wendy’s to help bring the issue to the forefront.

Brian Delp
16 days 3 hours ago

Both. Opportunistic and timely … but not risky. I’m just not sure how this fully aligns with Wendy’s core values. Logo change great, but what else? If it was instead a shampoo or self-care brand like Dove then I get it.

Craig Sundstrom

Risky? AH-ha-ha-ha! That’s rich; ageism, as it’s now called, has long been a hot button issue for me, but from the other direction: I began to resent it in the ’80s when a (seemingly) systematic effort to turn younger adults into second class citizens began, and as I’ve grown ever farther from that demographic, the resentment has only grown, as have the efforts.

Ok, rant over, back to the question: I think it’s superficial and 183% opportunistic, but will be immensely popular (at least to the extent that courageously taking out an ad will be noticed) … Go for it!

Oliver Guy

Ageism in the workplace can be a huge issue. With people living longer, healthier lives this is something organizations must tackle and those that do will benefit by being able to hire experienced workers who can help with the development of more junior staff.

"I don’t see a downside, unless the efforts become defined by unhealthy and embarrassing stereotypes and caricatures."

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