What was your favorite Super Bowl ad this year? The remodeled kitchen from Bud Light? How about the HomeAway commercial where a baby appears to be smashed against a glass wall? Well if this was too crass for your taste, you’re not the only one. After hundreds of complaints from angry customers who thought the ad was insensitive to child abuse, the vacation rental company has issued an apology and pulled the ad from TV.
The original press release that went out on January 21, 2011. The 30-second spot depicts a family in a “hotel room simulator” who becomes frustrated from the lack of space in the room. The father is hit in the face with a pillow and falls on a desk, where the baby is lying, who is then launched across the room and smashes into a glass wall. HomeAway even created an interactive platform, in which viewers can go online and upload their own pictures in the face of the smushed test baby. Ben Sharples, chief executive officer of HomeAway says they wanted to create a tv spot that was a ” ‘Super Bowl-worthy’ moment that breaks through the clutter of so many ads” and a “comic situation.”
But some viewers did not have such a big sense of humor. Complaints from spokespeople from organizations such as the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation, feels the ad marginalizes serious conditions and life situations like child abuse. USA Today quotes a woman who suffered from post-partum obessive-compulsive disorder says the ad actually gave her flash backs.
When dealing with crisis situations like this, working for a pr agency can feel like a never-ending battle. It’s similar to Groundhog’s Day. Do you immediately respond with an apology? Do you stand behind your decision and hope your loyal customers will stay true to you? In this situation, I think it was a great move to issue an apology so quickly. The ad was suppose to be funny and appeal to families who vacation, but instead, it ended up offending the very audience they were trying to connect with .
Judge for yourself: was the commercial insensitive to shaken baby syndrome or are viewers being hyper sensitive about an ad that was suppose to be a jokel?
In case you missed it, here’s the ad.