Unilever is the world's third-largest consumer goods company and most of their brands are known to the public without any introduction.
However, this doesn't mean they can't make an impact with their advertising – in fact it's usually encouraged. But there are varying degrees of impact advertising before it becomes just plain offensive.
And, while it's worth pointing out that Unilever did not run with these ads that were produced by an external advertising company in South Africa, the age of the Internet means it's almost impossible to avoid backlash for proposed ideas.
Two Flora spread adverts have turned up online and caused a whole heap of controversy thanks to their homophobic nature.
Posted on Buzzfeed the Flora adverts compares coming out as being homosexual to shooting someone in the heart (shown above) – and by proxy, cholesterol. Another ad references the Kama Sutra (shown below), again, as a bullet to the heart.
The first bullet reads "Uhh, Dad I'm Gay" while the second simply states "Kama Sutra, Page 48".
A Unilever spokesperson responded to the adverts by Lowe + Partners Johannesburg, saying to The Drum:
"This advert was prepared by an external agency in South Africa and was not approved by anyone at Unilever. The advert is offensive and unacceptable and we have put an immediate stop to it."
Is this really acceptable advertising to even have produced into a concept stage?
Seeing as the Internet is largely omnipresent, it's incredibly important to ensure that brand identity isn't compromised due to external sources and influences – after all, you never know where it'll end up.
Do you think Unilever have managed to back out of this situation successfully, or could this balloon into an even bigger deal?