Late Friday afternoon, we get a phone call from an irate female customer complaining that we were degrading women; however, she never mentioned we had a nipple problem with the ads. We just assumed she didn't like the fact that we were using a young attractive woman for selling financial services. That was the tip of the iceberg.
The market opens up Tuesday morning and our giant online ad campaign launches right when the TV goes live (Elsie was only in print). The ads were click rate optimized so that the best performing ad was shown the most times. Unfortunately, the ad that was being shown the most times was a giant 160x800 un-airbrushed ad on the NY Times. The other eye popping ads were an introductory message on MarketWatch.com as well as a 728x90 ad on Yahoo Finance's home page that expanded below. Within 15 minutes of the market opening we had about 100 written customer complaints and so did many of the websites. In fact, this was the first time that I learned that a Compliance Department in a Financial Services Company monitors message boards, because we were all over them.
Megan got the offending ads pulled down as soon as we found out, but the pain didn't end there. The remaining ads were moving or as some jealous Director's in the company said were jiggling and this offended customers too (I think they were trying to follow the dots with their eyes). I had numerous calls with Brenda, the president of Harrisdirect, Bruce S, as well as Brenda's boss Susan P. Around 2 PM that day the following call takes place....
Brenda: Eric, have you fixed the ads and made sure that none of the other ads have a (nipple) problem?
Eric: Brenda, I've been staring at this women's chest for 5 hours now, I can't tell what I'm seeing.
Brenda: But, are they fixed?
Eric: Brenda, sometimes I see something, sometimes I don't, and sometimes I see a shadow. So, I think we are good to go. If I have to look at another pair of breasts today I think I will scream.
Brenda: Ok, let's not go that far. Did you eat lunch? Why don't you take a break?
Eric: Brenda, I don't know if you know this about men. We can not think about food and women at the same time. Kinda of affects the same region of our brains....
Once I was sure the ads were fixed, off they went back into rotation, the entire nipple gate issue over or so I thought....