Bowing to Advocates, Dior Agrees to Change 'Addict' Marketing Campaign

Responding to a pioneering advocacy campaign on behalf of people in recovery, Christian Dior has agreed to change major elements of the advertising campaign for its Dior Addict perfume and cosmetics.

After meeting with representatives of the addiction and recovery community in New York in late January, Christian Dior President Claude Martinez said that while the company would not rename the product — as advocates had requested — it would stop using the tagline “admit it” in its marketing materials. Martinez also said that ads would be altered to emphasize the full name of the product — “Dior Addict” — in line with the company's contention that the campaign was meant to imply that the Dior “brand and lifestyle” are addictive.

In addition, Dior promised not to use the word “addict” alone to promote its products, and to remove an image of a bicep with a lipstick tattoo from ads and the internet. However, other controversial elements of the campaign remain, such as using the words “addiction,” “sensuality,” “pleasure,” and “energy” to promote Dior Addict.

“Parfums Christian Dior and our parent company, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vutton, fully recognize the serious public-health issue of addiction,” said Martinez in a Jan 23 letter addressed to Susan Rook and Rick Sampson of Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR), Stacia Murphy of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), and Sharon Smith of MOMStell, a group of parents concerned with addiction and recovery issues.

“Christian Dior has never had any intention to trivialize or glamorize drug abuse or to offend individuals who suffer from or are trying to recover from addictions, or their families,” according to Martinez. “We regret that certain aspects of the promotional materials for Dior Addict may have nonetheless given rise to misunderstanding.”

Rook said the changes represent a significant victory for the growing recovery advocacy movement. “Some people are disappointed that the fragrance retains the name Dior Addict, but you can see by the changes that the name is explained and 'neutralized,'” Rook said in a Jan. 27 alert to supporters of the “Addiction is Not Fashionable” protest campaign, coordinated by FAVOR.

“Is this a 100-percent win? No,” said Rook. But, she noted, “The agreed-upon changes to the ad campaign will cost Dior a lot of money, time, and above all attention to the reason why they have to make the changes.”

That attention includes coverage of Dior's decision in publications like the Christian Science Monitor and Vogue.

Rook said that the success of the Addiction is Not Fashionable campaign demonstrated the power of advocacy on recovery issues and provided an opportunity for grassroots leaders to learn by doing. Other advocates agreed.

“Our letters mattered. Our children mattered,” said MOMStell's Smith. “We can do this. We can give a voice to our children, to the parents, to people in recovery. We can do this as long as we pick up a pen. In this case, the pen was mightier than the bank account.”

“This shows how we can all come together to address issues related to the disease of addiction,” added Andre Johnson of the Partnership for a Drug Free Detroit, which coordinated local opposition to the Dior Addict ad campaign. “People from different perspectives were able to come together with this, people from the recovery community, prevention community, families who had lost someone to addiction. We came together and were able to show these executives these issues. Corporate executives need to respect what we have to say because we're consumers.”

Rook credited local leaders like Ben Bass and Mary Vallejo of the El Paso Recovery Alliance for the campaign's success, saying their advocacy led to the U.S. military pulling Dior Addict off the shelves at stores on bases around the world — a major step that helped convince Christian Dior to compromise.

Vallejo praised Dior for listening to recovery advocates and changing the Dior Addict advertising. “A lot of corporations can't admit when they're wrong,” she said. “It's amazing that Dior was not only willing to admit that, but they are also making changes.”

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