Skechers pulls Christina Aguilera "nurse" ad after receiving more than 3,000 letters from nursing supporters
August 17, 2004 -- In response to widespread protests sparked by the Truth's campaign over the last two weeks, Skechers will discontinue the Christina Aguilera "naughty nurse" ad that had begun to run in markets worldwide, according to a statement released by Jennifer Clay, a public relations official at Skechers' Los Angeles headquarters. In a letter sent to the Center, Skechers stated that it has "discontinued [its] international media buys."
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Virginia Linn described this result as the Truth's "latest success" in a good article about the Skechers campaign published today in the paper's health section. (See the full listing of our international press coverage). However, because of the lead time required for much print press advertising, we expect that the ads may still run in some publications in the next month or two. In addition, because of the different media in which the ads were apparently slated to appear (such as point of sale retail locations), we are working to get clarification on exactly what has been discontinued.
Please let us know at email@example.com if you see these ads and we will monitor their appearances.
The text of the letter which many of the letter-writers received from Skechers read:
Thank you for voicing your opinion on our recent advertisement. Your words were heard by SKECHERS management and the following statement was issued:
"The Christina Aguilera advertisement was in no way meant to trivialize or marginalize the valuable services that the nursing profession contributes to our society. As you can imagine, as a consumer brand, SKECHERS in no way wishes or intends to offend any group. As a result of the valuable feedback given to us by the various nurses' organization, we immediately pulled all United States distribution of the advertisement and discontinued international media buys."
Jennifer Clay Director of Corporate Communications
Our congratulations and thanks go out to the nurses and many non-nurses who wrote letters to Skechers on behalf of the nursing profession. This was our biggest campaign yet. Skechers seemed unusually resistant to our message at first, but the determined efforts of our supporters ultimately prevailed.
We have also sent the following letter to Skechers asking the company to make amends to the nursing profession for having run ads that adversely affected the views of the global public about nursing. About 3000 letters from our supporters, many similar to the one below, have also also been sent to Skechers. We ended this campaign in October 2004.
Dear Skechers executives:
Thank you for taking action to remove the Skechers' Christina Aguilera nurse ad from worldwide publication. We trust that you will also refrain from using such harmful nursing images to sell your products in the future. Your decision shows a laudable concern for the views of nurses, many of whom, as you know, objected strongly to the image of nursing presented in this ad.
Unfortunately, just ceasing publication of this ad cannot undo the damage already done, or "unring the bell." In our view, the ad has imprinted a negative image of nursing on those who saw it, potentially including health care decision-makers and career seekers, at a time of critical shortage. Persons who associate nursing with sex are unlikely to see it as worthy of being their career or of receiving significant public or private resources. They are unlikely to realize, for instance, that many thousands of nurses with doctoral-level education in nursing work on the cutting edge of health care research. Nor are they likely to realize that nurses save or improve countless lives every day through their difficult, highly-skilled work. It is imperative for global health that we not only halt this kind of damage to the nursing image, but also start reversing the damage by helping to create a more positive image.
Nurses represent a key consumer group. There are roughly 3 million registered nurses in North America alone, all are working age adults, the vast majority are female (who do most purchasing), and many of their family members and friends are also consumers of Skechers products. It is obviously in Skechers' interest to make amends to these consumers in a tangible, visible way. Indeed, even without any evident public relations problem, Johnson & Johnson recently put $30 million into an image campaign (the Campaign for Nursing's Future) <www.discovernursing.com> in response to the worsening global nursing crisis. There is no doubt in my mind that nurses are buying more Johnson & Johnson products as a result of it. A similar effort on behalf of Skechers would show nurses that you are determined to make amends.
What can Skechers do? I have a number of ideas, many of which are also described on The Truth About Nursing's web site, www.truthaboutnursing.org/action. For instance, the company might undertake image-building efforts such as:
funding art that portrays nurses in an accurate light: www.truthaboutnursing.org/create
funding "Be a nurse for a day" programs:" www.truthaboutnursing.org/action/follow_a_nurse.html
funding media training programs for nurses: www.truthaboutnursing.org/action/media_training.html
creating ads for Skechers that feature nurses in a positive light (please work with the Truth on these)
becoming a supporting member of the Truth, helping us increase public understanding of the nursing profession:
funding other image campaigns, such as Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow: http://nursesource.org/sponsor_info.html
The Truth About Nursing would be happy to work together with you in a way that can benefit both Skechers and the nursing image.
Thank you again for pulling the Christina Aguilera nurse ad. I urge you to begin working to repair nursing's image and address the crisis in nursing.
Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, MD 21212-2937