While there’s been a ton of debate about Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships resuming visits to Haiti, a bigger Haiti-related PR blunder might just have been made by the Glad brand of garbage bags. Two nights ago, while watching a network newscast filled with reports from the earthquake-ravaged island, I caught a spot for Glad’s ForceFlex garbage bags. The ad, which centers around two kids doing an Olympic-style judging of garbage bags, includes two shots of their parents throwing away totally uneaten plates of meatloaf and vegetables.

Perhaps in a different viewing environment, the spot would come off as cute, but viewed immediately after news footage of Haitians starving and fighting over food drops, it seemed shockingly crass. Even more amazingly, when I flipped the channel, the spot was running almost simultaneously on a different network newscast.

Given today’s harsh realities of rampant unemployment and near-empty food pantries, this creative concept seems questionable enough…but to be running a “roadblock” media buy during newscasts dominated by scenes of starvation? C’mon! How much more tone-deaf could Glad be? Sure, the Haiti crisis may have boosted news ratings that day, but shouldn’t the buyers have taken a little more nuanced view?

Admittedly, I’m a cheapskate who routinely eats leftovers. But I’m willing to bet I wasn’t the only one grossed out by that ad…and contemplating a possible switch from Glad to a less expensive brand of garbage bag. After all, the money saved could be used to send some meatloaf to Haiti.

Andy Larsen

VP/Director of Public Relations

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