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You Effed Up Again, Summer’s Eve

Lissa Rankin's picture


Summer's Eve

I thought last year’s Summer’s Eve campaign was horrendous enough. After they asked me to be their spokesperson (and I said “No freakin’ way - it’s supposed to smell like a vagina) I was appalled at their advertorial in Woman’s Day magazine that offered up tips for how to ask your boss for a raise. Nobody mentioned things like “Hey, you know how I come up with the most creative ideas in the board room and we land boatloads of accounts because of my brilliance.” Nope, instead, the #1 tip for asking your boss for a raise was WASH YOUR VAGINA. You sure wouldn’t want to show up with a stinky cooch when you’re asking for the big bucks. (You can read the whole story here).

Last year, they effed up so badly, their marketing director even publicly apologized on Owning Pink. She asked me how Summer’s Eve could rectify their major f*ck up. Here’s what I wrote to her:

How can Summer's Eve fix this?" I thought long and hard about it. Yes, I know it must be a PR nightmare, and I empathize with those who are struggling to rectify what has happened. But how CAN Summer's Eve fix this and stay in business?

I would love to see Summer's Eve start a campaign aimed at helping women learn to love their bodies (and their good-smelling natural vaginas) just the way they are. Rather than tapping into the fears and insecurities most women have about their girl parts, why not help them know that they're normal - and they're beautiful, and that if they have an odor so strong that they might not get a raise - they need to see a doctor!

How will this sell product for Summer's Eve, when I know you all have quotas to meet? Just look at alcohol and tobacco companies for guidance. They are selling something most of us know is bad for us and yet many use the products anyway. So while it may seem counterintuitive to empower women about how to love their natural odor, rather than scaring them into buying a feminine wash, it just might work. There are still those committed followers of the brand who will love the brand all the more for helping spread the message that we're beautiful, perfect, whole beings. If the brand starts a campaign like this with a pure heart - not just to sell product but to truly help change the way the female body is viewed, that would be something I would rave about here at Owning Pink. That would take guts. That would take a stand on behalf of all of us. And I'd love to see more brands willing to truly support the whole health of women.

So thank you, again, for your apology. Now, take a deep breath, get a massage, call your BFFs so they can take you out and give you hug, and please join the rest of us in the fight to redefine the new feminism and bring advertising into the modern world.

Unsurprisingly, I got no response.

Berries?

Let’s start out by stating one thing we all know very clearly. As an OB/GYN physician, I can tell you that Summer’s Eve products are not only unnecessary (who wants their vagina to smell like Delicate Blossom?)  They’re also dangerous and increase the risk of allergic reactions, yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and other dermatologic conditions. And pretty much everyone knows this.

So, in light of this fact, I can understand how hard it must be to sell a product doctors despise. But that makes me even more baffled at Summer’s Eve’s new campaign, Hail To the V, which launched in many theaters as a movie trailer for the new Harry Potter film. (WTF? Harry Potter? Summer’s Eve? That’s almost as much of a misfit as asking Lissa Rankin to be their spokesperson. Ha!) You can read all the juicy details of the ad here. But here’s a brief summary:

First we see a woman holding an infant up to the prehistoric, dawn-of-time moonlight..  Next, Cleopatra stands before her adoring audience, raises her arms into a V for victory, and the crowd goes wild.  Next up are two Crouching Tiger/Hidden Dragon type men, flying through a bamboo forest, presumably battling over some woman. Finally, two knights joust, while the queen looks on.

All throughout, the narration is along the lines of, "All society is based on it, men have fought and died for it for millennia, blah blah blah.”

Then, while the knights are still jousting, the ad cuts to a woman in the grocery store, strolling through the lady parts aisle, and the narrator says something like "So show it some love, ladies!" 

"It" - of course - the "V" we’re supposed to hail - is The Vagina. Enter Summer’s Eve feminine wash product.

The grocery store woman is holding a Summer's Eve "feminine wash" product we’re supposed to use to show "it" some love. (Cause that’s how I show my "V" some love. Don’t you? Forget sex with someone you adore. Forget masturbation. I wash my vagina with something that smells like RAIN and then my "V" feels loved. BULLSHIT!)

Say What?

Plus, what does all this mean? Is that all we are? Why are we hailing the "V" here? Because there have been vaginas since the dawn of time? Because powerful women like Cleopatra have one? Because they are so enticing, mysterious, and consuming that men die for them? (Guys, how does this make you feel? Cause I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure any guy who would die for me would do it for reasons that go way deeper than my "V". I tend to think most dudes aren’t quite that shallow, but maybe Summer's Eve knows more about men than I do.)

The rest of the campaign is now rolling out and it’s even worse. The star of the Hail To the V campaign is - it’s hard for me to write this and feel even remotely serious - a talking vagina hand. Yes, a talking hand, like the kind you hold up against a wall for kids to make animal shadows that moo or oink. (You can see the vagina hand live and in person, along with Pauline Campos review of the ads here.)

If My Vagina Could Talk

Suffice it to say that if my vagina could talk, she would not be saying, “Giiiiirl…wipe me before we hit the club with one of those Summer’s Eve feminine hygiene cloths and we’ll be Lady Wowza.”

And she would definitely not say, “Ay yi yi…next time you’re in the shower, show me some love with Summer’s Eve feminine hygiene wash.”

Nope. Right now, my vagina is angry, and she would probably have some choice words for the Summer's Eve people. Something like:

Giiiiirl...(or Dude, as the case may be), if you knew anything about women and their vaginas, you'd know that we are supposed to smell like PUSSY. Not Summer Rain. Not Berry Garden. Not Gardenia Blossom. Pussy. Plus, I know how to clean myself, thank you very much. God pretty much designed me as a self-cleaning organism, and I'm not some stinky sock you gotta scrub up with some special product designed to clean me up and make me smell like a sorbet flavor. So why don't you just back off, asshole, and shove your feminine hygiene wash somewhere the sun don't shine (and I'm not talking about inside me, just so we're clear on that.)

What Were They Thinking? 

I can just see them around the boardroom table when some ad executive -likely some white bread male from Connecticut (no offense to the white breads or racially diverse people of Connecticut!) conceived of the whole thing. “You nailed it this time! The women are gonna EAT UP that Latina vagina hand!”

I’m afraid I have nothing more to say (and you know me. That doesn’t happen very often.) 

Ay yi-freakin'-yi,

Lissa 

P.S. If you haven't seen Colbert's answer to the Summer's Eve ads. . . presenting Hail to the D

 

Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.comPink Medicine Revolutionarymotivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.

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Comments

littlephoenix's picture

Wow....

That is so messed up. I went to see the new Harry Potter movie yesterday, and I am *so* glad that ad was not shown...

Lissa Rankin's picture

KC, you get it

I just love your comment. That's EXACTLY how I feel! Thanks for getting it, love.
Born this way,
Lissa

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Mrs. Awesome's picture

???

You claim to be about woman power and respect, but your language is offensive and disrespectful. What gives? Your "vagina rant" comeback was far more offensive and stereotypical of a complaining woman than anything I saw from the other ads...

Also, I use Summer's Eve and have never once had a problem with vaginal odor or itch or anything like that. An example of why someone who apparently "doesn't love my body/vagina" (according to you) would use Summer's Eve is because I use a body wash that exfoliates. Obviously I would never use this on my vaginal area, so I've been using Summer's Eve.

After seeing the Summer's Eve campaign it made me feel good about using the product, knowing that it was ok to use this brand, I don't need to be embarrassed because I'm just giving my "V" some special attention. Did the Summer's Eve ad make me feel bad about this? No.

Now, how did your article/write-up/rant make me feel? Embarrassed, ashamed and patronized. That the only reason I am using this product is because I am uneducated, dirty and diseased. I have never had a yeast infection and have been using Summer's Eve products for years.

I understand your position on this matter, however feel it is incredibly ironic - and hypocritical - for you to say this ad campaign is offensive, and then you write an offensive article as a response.

KC's picture

Sorry

Hi,

I am sorry this article made you feel this way. However, if you read all Lissa's comments you will see that she is not against this product. She explains the fact that if the product is for you then great. It's how it goes ABOUT making the women who do not need this product feel ashamed and un-natural and not a real woman.

It's how it tries to use inappropriate marketing tactics to do so instead of listening to what real women (and some professionals who do listen to women) want and advertise according to such. Lissa is trying to bring about that to feel good about yourself, you don't need a product to brand you. For example, you are only cool if you smoke and drink alcohol. You are only only a woman if you have big boobs, etc... But rather, like Lady Gaga sings, "You are born this way". How many women in this world are looked down upon just because they are a woman and we all know that women have vaginas. The world sees strength through masculine penises. So why isn't there power is feminine vaginas since they are the birth canal and there is strength that comes with bearing and delivering a child. Vaginas are also a sense of pleasure and man would be lost without it. It should be treasured like gold. Respect with Mother Nature's awe.

Now in order for you to feel comfortable with yourself and bring about your best self, finding products that work for you is great!!! But the root of confidence lies within solely within yourself. We have a physical body that we can adorn to support our inner confidence. Because as we age, so does our physical appearance and health. If we have total confidence just in that (as marketers want) then we will have a big surprise once we hit our later years. As they say, inner beauty shines out. So, start inside and then you can adorn your outter and inner physical properties: that includes your body parts, your thighs, your hair, your ovaries, your hormones, etc. If companies would show respect for women as they are, they can successfully advertise that they have the products to help us enhance our confidence, instead of relying on them to feel beautiful.

I watched on Oprah once that a woman got fired from a certain airline just because she refused to wear makeup. Does that make her less of an employee? Now I know jobs have dress codes, etc but she couldn't wear makeup for health reasons. And as a woman whose skin is constantly in pain, I have to use Jane Iredale makeup. But I know, that in the end, I am ok without it. Wearing does help my inner beauty shine outwards and helps me to be the best I can be and that my skin feels better when I wear it. I use the makeup even while I am just at home. But this company never makes you feel like shit because you don't wear it. And when I had my tonsillectomy last year, the hospital says to go without jewelry, deoderant, etc. for health reasons as part of the surgery. I went in feeling great about myself au naturale. Now I did enjoy my makeup after, but you are getting the point. I hope my response helps all women to know, that you are valuable because you are a human being. And also for men, that if your body parts aren't all the equal, well, you are great just that way too. And for whatever reason you want to enhance your confidence (through hair color, bath products, surgery for some), than that is great. You have your confidence in your soul FIRST.

Peace and love,
KC

seagirl's picture

Colbert

LOVE IT!! This is a great comeback. Why not start some kind of "civil disobedience" or picketing or something to Summer's Eve products? Company? Why not run them out of business? I mean, seriously.....they've been around since I was first menstruating, and I've never touched the stuff. SOMEONE must still be buying it, because it's still on shelves.......Can we do something about this? It seems, Lissa, that they aren't listening to you much.....so they must not have the message yet! Keep trying.

Greg's picture

Why?

Apologies if this sounds rude, but that is pretty much everything that is wrong with the Internet. Don't like a product? Then it must be evil! Picket it! Civil disobedience! Run the f*ckers out of town. How about a more rational response? They're not killing and eating babies, they are selling a scented wash for your vagina. If you don't want to use it, don't buy it. If you feel it's insulting to women to suggest that they should be ashamed of their natural body smell, then great, say so. But why on Earth would anyone make the leap from "I don't really like this product!" to "This company is evil and must be destroyed?" It seems somehow emblematic of the current state of the Internet. There's no grey - everything is amazing or evil.

Anonymous's picture

Hate Vagisil

The whole vagina-care product market makes me cringe. I refuse to buy anything with the Vagisil name brand on it - and oh where is Penisil anti-itch ointment, since guys seem to always be scratching down there lol... I especially hate it when they advertise Vagisil on TV. They don't talk about itchy balls on TV why should they talk about itchy vulvas? Or maybe they should come out with a deodorant foreskin wash for uncircumcised men?? Haven't seen that product out yet.

As for Summer's Eve their attempts to promote vaginas are pathetic. (Although I do buy their powder to absorb excess perspiration in the summer, and it's never given me any infections or allergic reactions...)

Liz's picture

I agree, a healthy vagina

I agree, a healthy vagina should be left alone - douching and sprays only lead to infections and the current obsession with brazilian waxing leads to awful ingrown hairs, infections, cysts and other nasty things.
I know many women always wear panty liners too and are obsessed with dryness, yet the norm is the norm for a reason...the sign of a healthy body.
I've never gone in for any of these things, except a panty liner when I'm on a long haul flight and at the grand old age of 53, have never had thrush or any sort of vaginal infection.
I respect my healthy body and leave it alone...that's the answer, in my opinion...

Lynne Hurd Bryant's picture

Isn't this the 21st Century?

I belong to a page on Facebook called "Kitsch Bitsch." She loves all things 1920s to 1970s...adverts and recipes are her favorite things to share. In the 1930s and 1940s, there were tons of ads about using Lysol as a douche being the only way to a happy marriage. Cooch, smell like Lysol? OMG, a recipe for "the whites" and a crap load of itching and burning. Now these sorts of things are coming back around???? You need a fresh cooch to get a good raise? What on earth is your boss's nose doing in your cooch in the first place????

Minge should smell like minge. If it has a really foul odor and discharge, get thee to the GYN, baby you have an infection. Spend your money on some pretty panties to dress your cooch in style and stop worrying about its natural frangrance. Thank you Lissa for all you do!

Jill's picture

RE: Summers Eve,Annonymouss response & Colberts spoof

Hail to the "D" was hysterical! I love Lissa's out spokenness. @ Annonymous, Geez flipping Louise,read the whole story........ Lissa I was one of those people that thought my vag should smell like a bed of roses and because I listened to Summers Eve, I'm probably responsable for my Gyno's kid going to college because I was in there with yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and a slew of other things due to my thinking that I should smell the way God intended me to smell. Hugs to you. Jill

Sheena LaShay's picture

If they had simply had one

If they had simply had one talking hand, I would have just thought them silly, lacking MAJOR creativity and utterly ridiculous. Once I saw that they specifically made one for "African American" women, "Caucasian" and "Latina" women, then I became slightly offended. Its no skin off my back and I do not buy their products and they mean nothing to me. But as a black woman, to think that they think that is what my vagina would talk like or what I as a consumer would react positively too shows how off base they are.

It also shows they are attempting to reach a supposedly "lower class" demographic of african american and latina women based on the stereotypes the convey and by doing so, they are hoping these women are uninformed about their vaginas and will therefore think they NEED their product. It's all so STUPID. So effing stupid.

I simply want them to shut up now. Just shut up Summer's Eve. Your idea about how to grow in my career is stupid and your idea of what my vagina would say is SO STUPID. Shut up Summer's Eve. PLEASE. Or hire smarter people who will stop you before you hit publish.

Michelle Medina's picture

On a light note, Hail to the

On a light note, Hail to the D is funny!
On a serious note. . . summer's eve are just plain ridiculous!!!!! I'm not even sure what to say other then you nailed my feelings on the head, no pun intended!
Love you Lissa!!!!
Vagina, Vagina, Vagina!! Or. . . taking a cue from Mama G, Pussy, Pussy, Pussy!!!!

Patricia's picture

Timing!

My boyfriend and I were just talking about this today! And I said similar - let a pussy be a pussy, heavens, enough with the scare tactics! LOL! I hadn't seen the Colbert Spoof - that's brilliant.

The crazy products in this society are incredible. Walk through a drug store - Walgreens, CVS - amazing. I worked in advertising for many years producing TV /R commercials and some clients are soooooooooooooo wacked - stuck in their heads with no "real" idea of what they are creating ... just want the "money, money, money". It is rather disgusting in my opinion ... buyer beware!

Thanks Lissa for being a voice of clarity.

Lissa Rankin's picture

Go for it, itchy Anonymous

I didn't mean to make you nervous, love. If you're using the Summer's Eve feminine wash and it's working for you, by all means- keep using it. You know best what's good for your body. I just don't like the scare tactics often used to convince women that they don't smell good.

For most people. it's fine to use whatever you would use to wash your pits and your feet on your vagina. But if you're sensitive, best to skip all products unless you've found something that works well for you.

Good luck!

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Jeanette's picture

Ka POW!

Your article gave me the best laugh of my whole month.
You have a movie in there some where waiting to happen.
I'm going to post this on Facebook and spread the word and the laughter. Yes I know its a serious subject, but you have such a grand way of delivering a powerful punch.
Thanks for standing up for all women. Hail to the Victory of the Vagina! Take that Eve!

Lilithe's picture

Curious what you think about

Curious what you think about their other campaign that is not getting any press in light of their other hogwash, "That's Vaginal".

http://puresex.wordpress.com/2011/07/12/thats-vaginal/
and
http://thatsvaginal.com/

Beth Franklin's picture

OMG

I had to laugh hysterically at the Colbert spoof..lol...
Hey if these men are so worried about our vaginas....tell em to come find out what pussy is supposed to smell like, taste like..
Have to wonder what they expect from their wives, significant others, g/f'...would they like to taste flower blossoms when going down?
If they don't like the taste of a natural woman..then they have issues..or their woman needs to be more clean.

GEEEEEEZ O PETE!!

Barbara's picture

Colbert's Answer

OMG! Colbert's ad is the funniest commercial I've ever seen! Love the finger, as a response to Summer's Eve hand job. Wonderful, wonderful, as well as your rant, Lissa. Well done. Well deserved.

Lissa Rankin's picture

Offended Anonymous

I added a little "no offense to white breads or the racially diverse of Connecticut" just for you, love.

I really did not mean any offense, just that many of the ad execs trying to sell blacks and Latinas have no blacks or Latinas in their boardrooms, so it's no wonder things like this slip through!

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KC's picture

I knew what she meant. It's

I knew what she meant. It's called a play-on-words. Or to some ironic. Or to some comediens a spoof.

Anonymous's picture

Wow, you had me until your

Wow, you had me until your last paragraph where you managed to stereotype an entire state and throw in a racist remark.

You effed up this time, Dr.

Ade's picture

Boo hoo hoo Anonymous...

Get over it. She's not trying to advertise a product, she's trying to make VERY clear that advertising is male dominated and, in case you haven't noticed, these industries are completely overloaded with white men who think they know what's best for the rest of the world. Perhaps it wasn't an appropriate comment but eff it...It's Dr. Rankin's blog and she can say whatever she wants!!! It's called free speech!

This is the only way we can educate them and ourselves. The only way they'll get the point is if we stop buying their products. I won't endorse or purchase a product that's harmful to my body or my self-confidence.

Lissa Rankin's picture

Anonymous's itchy vagina

Here's what I'd like to know more about, love.
"Since soap aggravates it and plain water doesn't seem to do the trick." What does "not doing the trick" mean to you? That you're still itchy? That you don't feel clean afterwards?

Plain soap can be very irritating to the vagina and I don't recommend it for those who have frequent yeast infections. Usually, plain water and a light wipe with a warm washcloth is all you need to stay clean...

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Anonymous's picture

Water "not doing the trick"

Oddly enough I've never had a yeast infection, but I do have high yeast levels, especially around my period.

Washing with just water leaves me feeling as if I didn't wash at all - still itchy, feeling almost sticky (although I'm not sure that's the right word and I don't want to mislead you here), etc. I don't want to smell like a rain forest or anything, I just want to feel clean. I don't use it daily (probably once/week unless I'm uncomfortable/itchy). I have sensitive skin as it is (which has gotten tremendously better as I've grown, but I still need to use free & clear detergent). Before I discovered summer's eve, I was just getting prescriptions for hydrocortisone creams and occasionally treatments for yeast infections (although as I mentioned I have never technically had an infection). Keeping her clean SEEMED (anyway) to do the trick, but now you're making me nervous.

I guess I'd like to know what's wrong with summer's eve? What are the potential risks? What sorts of studies point to it being dangerous? I've just never heard these things before, so this is very surprising to me. It seems so gentle, so I would never suspect anything. I even use it to clean the occasional bedroom toy. Is this bad practice?

Anonymous's picture

Huh.. (thoughtful pause)

Lissa,I have a couple questions based on the whipping you gave to Summer's eve products.

I actually use the sensitive skin wash because I tend to have high yeast levels (not infection) and can get unbearably itchy (especially at certain times of the month). Since soap aggravates it and plain water doesn't seem to do the trick, what exactly is wrong with the feminine wash and what *should* I be doing about it? My OBs (I have seen 4 due to shared practices and relocation) have all seemed unconcerned.

Thaaaaanks!

KC's picture

Oooh! The irony! :)

Oooh! The irony! :)

Ann's picture

woo hoo

Fan-freaking-tastic post Lissa, & I live in Europe where nobody much (that I'm aware of) uses these silly products.

Ann's picture

woo hoo

Fan-freaking-tastic post Lissa, & I live in Europe where nobody much (that I'm aware of) uses these silly products.

Lissa Rankin's picture

OMG. Summer's Eve took their ads off YouTube

I just clicked on Pauline's post from yesterday:
http://www.owningpink.com/blogs/owning-pink/hail-to-the-what-now

And all the YouTube clips of the Summer's Eve ads are now "private." Ruh roh Shaggie. Me thinks somebody got in trouble...

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Lissa Rankin's picture

No offense Connecticut residents

Kait, you know I'm kidding! And yes, Pauline just alerted me to the Colbert spoof. SO freakin' hysterical!

And yes- you remember Anonymous- VAGINA VAGINA VAGINA!
xoxo
Lissa

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Kait's picture

Tehe

I know...I just had to give you a hard time and disagree with SOMETHING considering I already made almost the exact same rant yesterday (on the quad outside of work...whoops).

<3

Lori's picture

Brilliant.

Simply brilliant.

anonymous's picture

Amen!

Their asking you to be the spokesperson just shows that they weren't paying attention to WHO YOU ARE!

"Hail to the V?" As a tag line? Really? (Still, no one is willing to say VAGINA) I'm recalling your first video speech I saw, where you said it repeatedly! :)

Our bodies are a natural thing that we are responsible for caring for. Why on earth would anyone use a product full of artificial fragrance that could cause problems? Duh!

Thanks for this article Lissa! Keep on Rocking!

Kait's picture

Hey now...

don't be hating on us CT folk! ;)

And please tell me you saw Colbert's spoof? If not, here it is: http://www.thefrisky.com/post/246-stephen-colbert-sends-up-summers-eve-d...

Pauline Campos's picture

There's a reason I love you

This article is one of them. I cannot BELIEVE they asked you to be their spokesperson. Un-freaking-believable.

Pauline is the founder of Girl Body Pride & blogs at Aspiring Mama. Find her at about.me/paulinecampos

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