Your Ultimate Recovery Team
August 2008 -- In mid-2008, Canada's Neilson Dairy marketed its Ultimate flavored milk products with a naughty nurse campaign that was remarkably similar to the earlier Coors Light Trauma Tour. Naughty nurse models appeared in the dairy's ads and at a related extreme sports tour, the Live Ultimate Tour. Neilson ads matched each of the three main campaign "nurses"--the "Ultimate Recovery Team"--with sports-related sexual innuendo. Nurses...recovery...get it? This month, the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) and 1,000 supporters helped the company recover from its naughty nurse workout and remove the nurse element from its campaign. We salute RNAO and its supporters.
Evidently, the naughty nurse is a good choice to market anything to young males. Neilson's imagery used three attractive young models dressed in very short "nurse dresses" in promotional material placed in print periodicals, online, and at "event sampling." In the material, we learned that "Krista, Steph, and Melissa" would be "touring this summer and they'll want to know what your flavour is." After all, "our girls might just send you home with a sample of the Ultimate." "Nurse Krista" likes French Vanilla to "recover after long days of biking along the beach. If only she'd share a bike built for two with you." "Nurse Melissa" loves the way Strawberry "helps her bounce back after a run. Hopefully, she'll be on the lookout for a running buddy this summer." And "Nurse Steph" favors chocolate, so "[i]f you're lucky, she might just share some with you. That'll be one Ultimate Chocolate milk with two straws." Mmmm. Wouldn't you like to have these hot "nurses" find out what your flavor is, and send you home with a sample of the Ultimate?
In response to all this farm fresh goodness, RNAO president Wendy Fucile sent a letter in late July asking Neilson to end the naughty nurse imagery. The company declined. So in early August, RNAO asked its members to let Neilson know what they thought. More than 1,000 wrote to the company to express their concern. Less than a week after RNAO made that request, RNAO received a letter from Neilson in which the Ontario company apologized and promised to discontinue the nurse imagery in its Live Ultimate promotions.
Neilson's letterhead reveals that its logo includes the words "A votre sante / To your health." That's a nice thought, but we can't escape the delicious irony of a company with that logo using advertising that shows disrespect for nurses, who are vital to public health. Naughty nurse ads may seem as harmless as artificially flavoured cow's milk, but for decades they have discouraged practicing and potential nurses, undermined nurses' claims to adequate resources, and encouraged sexual abuse in the workplace. This is not what the nursing profession needs at a time of critical shortage. After all, we hope to avoid future advertising like this:
Nursing. If you're lucky, she might just share some with you!