Lush’s SpyCops campaign is an example of the blurred line the company has long created between advertising and political campaign efforts.
It sees posters and mock police tape highlighting the scandal in the UK of undercover police officers having used the names of dead children to take on fake identities, and have intimate relationships with the women they were spying on.
The campaign uses the #spycops hashtag on social media, with the posters stating undercover officers are “paid to lie” and that “police have crossed the line”.
The campaign has divided opinion and hit global headlines, with the police and some commentators criticising it strongly.
Criticism: unnecessary attack
Some critics of the campaign suggest it comes across as attacking or denigrating the work and performance of the entire police force, and the nuance of its specific focus - of the unethical behaviour or specific undercover operations - is lost.
“Another customer here now lost. Why anyone should think it was a good idea to launch any such campaign is beyond me. Campaign about the environment, natural products etc by all means, but this sounds like the radical idea of one person, possibly with an axe to grind,” reads a comment on Lush’s website.
Another comment, however, voices support: “I applaud your campaign, Lush, and you are correct in thinking that unless the public demands full disclosure of the targeted campaign groups and information on the individuals whose lives were infiltrated this abuse of human rights will not be properly addressed.”
The comment goes on: “I do not mean to denigrate the police, as this could not have happened without either the approval or the negligence of their superior officers, but I support wholeheartedly your statement that " all citizens should be concerned when human rights are abandoned by those in power". Well done, Lush.”
Lush is currently standing by its campaign.
“This is not an anti-state/anti-police campaign,” it asserts in a statement.
“We are aware that the police forces of the UK are doing an increasingly difficult and dangerous job whilst having their funding slashed. We fully support them in having proper police numbers, correctly funded to fight crime, violence and to be there to serve the public at our times of need.
“This campaign is not about the real police work done by those front line officers who support the public every day - it is about a controversial branch of political undercover policing that ran for many years before being exposed.”
Lush’s full statement can be read here.