It looks like Halifax Harbour Bridges and Bridget aren't going to be best
You know Bridget, the fictional vixen created for the bridge authority to
encourage commuters to practice safe driving on the city's bridges.
radio spots, billboards
and the @listentobridget
Twitter feed, Bridget tells her
presumably male target audience that "Bridget likes a driver who takes it slow"
and with a sultry voice that sounds like a bad Marilyn Monroe impression, warns
drivers to "watch your speed on my bridge, fast boy."
Let's not kid ourselves. Sex is still used to sell everything from beer to
sports cars. But it is 2012 and most image-conscious organizations tend to stick
with more mundane, politically correct ad campaigns.
So it should have come as no surprise that Bridget raised more than a few
eyebrows. The push back began almost immediately. Hundreds signed an online
to stop what it called a "sexist and demeaning" ad campaign.
Now several women's support groups, led by the Avalon Sexual Assault
Centre, have published an open letter to the bridge authority
. They say the
"campaign promotes and encourages treating women not as respected persons in our
society, but as objects to be disrespected."
It gets worse. The letter says Bridget's Twitter feed "has resulted in
responses that actively promote violence against women."
Halifax Harbour Bridge says while it "appreciates their opinions" it
disagrees and "would never have a campaign that encourages sexual
But while it tries to defend the campaign, it's clear it wasn't expecting
these kinds of accusations.
Allison MacDonald, HHB's communication manager, says while they didn't
think everyone would like Bridget she admits "that people feel so strongly one
way or another was a surprise."
Can Bridget survive the uproar? It doesn't sound like it.
The radio spots and billboard buys end in about a week. HHB says it will
"evaluate" Bridget over the next few weeks and will decide then what the
campaign will look like in the fall.
Hardly a ringing endorsement.
Creating a safety campaign that has people talking is an ad agency's dream.
Creating one that has respected women's groups accusing you of promoting sexual
violence is a client's nightmare
My guess is once the bridge commission completes its "evaluation" over the
summer, Bridget will be filed in the "it seemed like a good idea at the time"
drawer, never to be seen again.