To Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, Ms. Craig, and all the other diet programs out there, Unilever sends a message: Fuck you. In a bid to sympathize with the exasperation consumers feel toward counting calories, agency Ogilvy has created a new campaign for Unilever’s German line of food products Du Darfst with the tagline “Fuck the Diet,” aiming to convey the idea that with the company’s products, one can be a little less fastidious about sticking to a regimen.
Given Du Darfst’s demographic of health-conscious young women and mothers, and Unilever’s position as one of the largest companies in the world, the pithily abrasive quip does seem a touch out of place–especially in a TV ad where women laugh, party, flirt, and nosh to an upbeat pop-rock track with an even more upbeat voiceover artist letting it be known that with Du Darfst there are no regrets–just take what you want and, you know, “Fuck the diet.” Apparently German TV is a bit more lax about the f-bomb (the spot is below, in German, except for the payoff phrase) and consumers may not be so hung up on the expression. But, unsurprisingly enough, the “fuck” has caught some flak.
Since launching the commercial in late March, Du Darfst’s Facebook page has been slammed with complaints from angry and confused consumers, many of whom are demanding the ad be banned and the tagline changed. But Du Darfst is standing firm and posted an explanation on Facebook for their choice of words. According to a translation, although “Fuck the Diet” might be an “emotional expression,” it was meant to be the printed and vocalized manifestation of what women were secretly thinking. Du Darfst goes on to admit going for shock value in order to “trigger a discussion around the subject of diets”–mission accomplished.