18 Feb How the Bench Ad Failed in Some Points, and how we ALL missed the point



JUAN SAYS: We deliberately chose not to dip our fingers in the whole Bench-Ad-we-want-to-showcase-the-love-amongst-the-LGBT circus because right from the start, something didn’t feel right. Something was amiss or rather, to put it bluntly, something was insincere about the whole thing.
When the campaign went out, the whole of Summit Media (we are talking about Summit-owned websites) was all in praises about the campaign. Parang may rally sa facebook ng mga soshal. Grabe.
Sure they’d do that because the one of the subjects of the campaign was Preview’s Creative Director Vince Uy. Moreover, who would refuse to be included in the whole scale of things especially if the one who is asking is a major advertiser for your glossies. Tanga ka na lang kung tatanggihan mo.
Then the billboard went up, and then an “influencer” (someone who has a lot of followers in twitter and is paid to help trend a certain hashtag) sees the billboard sprayed with black paint. Posts a picture of it. An artist then picks it up, reposts and gets a brilliant idea of creatively “painting over” the blackened hands on the gay couple in question. Then others followed suit, utilizing their computers and phone apps just to join in the “fun” and make a statement to the ad board or whoever was the perceived “bigot” for hating holding hands between men printed on the billboard for all EDSA motorists to see. (We hated it when they took down the Volcanoes billboards, how come we were passive on this billboard this time around? Was it because we are shallow that we would want to oogle at the scantily clad men instead of “fighting the rights of the LGBT community? Hindi naman siguro. Hilaw lang talaga ang execution.)
We kept silent knowing that this was just too organized for a chaos, something that only a good PR company can do. And then this came out on facebook. We were not alone.
We expected the “organized marketing ploy” to reach its pinnacle, much like the whole brouhaha of the brands recent efforts to be controversial via the Bench Universe fashion show (you know where Coco was dragging a girl on a leash), and it’s original controversy on Volcanoes erupting in Guadalupe (oh we felt the heat. We did. We did. We did!). But it didn’t. Sadly, it failed to reach that level, because people in the know could see an orchestrated ploy at the mere sight of its first salvo.
Surprisingly, none of our LGBT advocate-friends on facebook bothered to repost or react to the said campaign.
Bench then admits to putting up the “blackened hands” billboard right from the start because they thought that said “blackened hands” image does not lose the essence of what the campaign was all about. (We were all so engrossed with the hands that we forgot that Bench was a clothing line and NOT an LGBT rights organization). We all indeed missed the point somewhere, including the PR community, the media and the unsuspecting netizens feeding on the manipulation of the brand and its website cohorts. You just got yourselves PUNKED!
To stress our point further, here is a post by a PR/Marketing practioner JC Valenzuela as addressed to Amor Maclang, PR head on an article she wrote on Rappler (read it here):
Dear Amor Maclang, if you’re going to talk about this campaign in the context of PR, let’s call a spade a spade and I say this objectively with no (emotional) context on the campaign’s execution/message.
When you say that the ultimate goal of this campaign was it “endeavored to shed light on an important topic – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights – in such a concerted and powerful way.” and while “disingenuousness,” should be taken in the context of the big picture – you’re also missing the point.
Bench’s ultimate goal is to sell fashion in context of its market’s lifestyle. 
In the context of marketing and or PR, it made itself relevant in the season of love, skewing a sub message towards all kinds of love, LGBT included. Its execution – whether deliberate (which it seems) – is a stunt that hoped to make publicity and it did. However, it seems to have backfired, and the big picture here is its effect on sales (to be seen).
In the realm of fast-fashion where foreign brands (with competitive price points and perceived better quality, and globally aligned trends) are fighting locally for a slice of the market, and since (my assumption is that) the big picture of this investment is to contribute to tactical sales, (secondary on branding), its execution backfired towards bad PR, (not to mention how its handling of the situation was bordering scapegoating) and makes their battle against the reality of having to compete with foreign brands a steeper fight.


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