In a terribly misguided move that seems more akin to heckling on the playground than celebrating our differences, a new Match.com ad campaign plastered on the walls in several London Underground stations deeply offended freckle-faced people everywhere. Part of a series of ads intended to comically point out that we all have our flaws; the freckle-shaming ad severely missed the mark. The posters feature a close up image of a red-haired, freckled woman’s face with the tagline, “If you don’t like your imperfections, someone else will.” Although the ad included the meant-to-be-empowering hashtag #loveyourimperfections, this did not go over well with commuters who took to social media to express their outrage and disappointment at the unintended dig.
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— Fleur Bone (@FleurBone) April 11, 2016
Despite Match.com’s good intentions, the ad backfired, causing immediate backlash from the offended parties. In an interview with the Guardian, the Advertising Standard Authority (the independent regulators of all advertising in the UK) confirmed that they’d received multiple complaints about the ad. An ASA spokesman said, “We’re currently carefully assessing the complaints to establish if there appear to be any grounds for action.”
— Katharine Longworth (@Klongwo) April 11, 2016
— Charlie Clemmow (@charlieclemmow) April 8, 2016
It did not take long for Match.com to see the error of their ways and respond to the criticism by pulling the ad and issuing a mea culpa statement to clarify their original intentions. The dating site said: “We believe freckles are beautiful. The intention of our “Love Your Imperfections” campaign is to focus on the quirks and idiosyncrasies that people wrongly perceive to be imperfections—this can include freckles, a feature that is sometimes seen as an imperfection by people who have them. We’re sorry if this ad has been interpreted in a different way and we apologize for any offense caused, this was not our intention.”
Freckles are beautiful. We celebrate them, as we celebrate whatever makes people unique. We’re sorry if we’ve offended anyone with our ad
— Match UK & IE (@match_UK) April 11, 2016
Although freckles have been viewed in the past as a trademark of unconventional beauty, the upside to this advertising mishap is the way in which the public stood up to celebrate freckles and challenge unrealistic beauty standards in the media. You can be certain the next Match.com ad won’t negatively mislabel or comment on people’s looks.
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