ALEXANDRIA, VA — In response to Verizon’s popular ad tagline — Can you hear me now? — florists have a clear response: We can — now stop disparaging Mother’s Day flowers.
The Society of American Florists (SAF) recently contacted the broadband and telecommunications giant about TV commercials that feature wilting yellow roses and negative messaging (“Smartphones Trump Flowers”) along with company radio ads that criticize flower longevity.
SAF, as the floral industry watchdog on harmful publicity, asked the goliath to reconsider its advertising strategy and promote its products on their own merits. A day later, Debi Lewis, Verizon Wireless’ executive director of corporate communications, responded: “Your perspective, and that of the groups represented by SAF, is important to us. Please be assured that the comments have been shared with the team that creates our advertising to consider as we move forward to other gift-giving holidays and events.”
Edible Arrangements also ran a TV commercial that knocks floral gifts this Mother’s Day. The ad shows women yawning as they receive bouquets with a voiceover saying, “She might be getting tired of flowers.”
The commercial comes as a disappointing about-face as Tariq Farid, CEO of the fruit bouquet company, told the floral industry in 2010 that it would stop disparaging flowers.
On April 30, SAF once again asked Farid to reconsider the negative approach. On May 5, Farid replied: “While I understand your initial reaction and concern, Edible Arrangements’ business model is no different than that of local florists…operating on Main Street in communities and neighbourhoods across the U.S. … In fact, we have been contacted by a number of owners who are very interested in partnering with us. We are very interested in partnering with local florists and have just initiated a program called ‘Edible Arrangements Affiliate Program’ that enables local florists, and other types of local retail store owners, to sell our products as a complement to their current assortment — and make additional revenue.”
SAF also responded to LongHorn Steakhouse. The chain operates 370 restaurants in 35 states, and sent an email promotion on May 2 that read: “Flowers are overrated.”
After hearing from SAF, John P. Connelly, senior vice president of Brand Foundation at LongHorn Steakhouse, replied: “We are very sorry you found it disparaging to the floral industry. I can assure you that was not our intention and we never meant to imply that flowers aren’t an appropriate and wonderful gift for Mother’s Day. Rather, this was an attempt at a tongue-in-cheek way to advertise what we offer at LongHorn Steakhouse. That said, we understand your perspective and that of the members of your association, and will certainly keep that in mind in the future, as well as make some changes to our current Mother’s Day marketing tactics. We truly value the services you and your members provide. In fact, I assure you that I’ll be buying my wife flowers in celebration of Mother’s Day this year!”
Other companies SAF contacted this Mother’s Day season for negative floral statements include:
Applebee’s: “Remember: Flowers Wilt, But Gift Cards Last Until You Use Them.”
International Diamond Center: Flowers “won’t last.”
Loft: “Think Beyond Flowers.”
Nest: “And unlike flowers or jewelry, it can help her save energy.”
Reebok: “This Mother’s Day, Skip The Flowers.”
Positive Publicity: Clear Channel Outdoor and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
Not all companies are putting down flowers this year; some are actually trumpeting floral gifts. On May 7, Lee R. Herman, president of Palace Florists, Inc., in Washington, D.C., spotted a digital advertisement by Clear Channel Outdoor that read: “Don’t forget about the flowers! 4 days until Mother’s Day!”
And Chaim Casper, president of Surf Florist, Inc. & Miami Beach Flowers in Miami Beach, Fla., alerted SAF to a Krispy Kreme online description of its Flower Doughnut that reads: “Nothing says spring like flowers. Celebrate spring.” “I intend (after Mother’s Day!) to go to my local Krispy Kreme store and high five the manager,” Casper wrote in an email to SAF on May 5. SAF sent Clear Channel Outdoor and Krispy Kreme thank-you letters