Lush’s SPY COPS ad Campaign
Stores decorated with fake police tape in protest against undercover officers’ behaviour
Lush’s SPY COPS ad Campaign. The cosmetics retailer Lush has been criticised by leaders of the Police Federation of England and Wales for an advertising campaign that addresses the scandal over undercover police officers forming relationships with the women they were employed to spy on.
As part of the campaign, promoted using the hashtag #spycops, Lush storefronts have been decorated with fake police tape emblazoned with the slogan: “Police have crossed the line.”
Since 1968 several women have had relationships with undercover police officers, not knowing they were using false identities to infiltrate the groups the women belonged to. The Metropolitan police have also been sued by a man who discovered that the father who abandoned him as a child was an undercover officer assigned to spy on his mother. Victims of deception have been critical of the undercover policing inquiry, set up in 2015 and led by Sir John Mitting.
As part of the campaign, Lush’s Facebook and Twitter accounts have featured video clips about the controversy, and have pictured a model whose appearance is split between being a police officer in uniform, and an undercover activist. The image is accompanied with the slogan “Paid to lie”. As yet, none of the material has appeared on the company’s popular Instagram account.
The campaign has faced a fierce backlash online from consumers and from representatives of the police. Ché Donald, the vice-chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, tweeted: “This is very poorly thought out campaign and damaging to the overwhelmingly large majority of police who have nothing to do with this undercover enquiry.”
Calum Macleod, the chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said he hoped Lush would “have the good sense to realise they made a mistake, and apologise to police officers and their families for the offence this poorly judged PR campaign has caused. No doubt the company will have many employees who have friends and family in the service and I urge them also to act now and hold their bosses and the company to account.”
Lush’s SPY COPS ad Campaign
In a statement, Lush denied that the campaign was “anti-state” or “anti-police”. The company said they “fully support [police] in having proper police numbers, correctly funded to fight crime, violence and to be there to serve the public at our times of need” and that they were only addressing “a controversial branch of political undercover policing that ran for many years before being exposed.”
Lush said its campaign had a specific aim to make changes to the undercover policing inquiry, and is urging customers to send postcards to the home secretary, Sajid Javid, asking him to add a panel of experts to the inquiry to aid the chair. It also wants to extend the scope of the inquiry to cover Scotland, to stop the current practice where the identities of the officers involved and the groups they were conducting surveillance on are not being disclosed to the public.
Rebecca Lush, the charitable giving coordinator at the company, said: “When Theresa May launched this public inquiry we all hoped that the truth about this scandal would finally be exposed and that the disgraceful police tactics would be examined. Instead, the public inquiry chair is making the inquiry more secretive and is granting the police anonymity in secret hearings. It is time the home secretary listened to the victims and appointed a diverse panel to hear the full evidence.”
Lush’s SPY COPS ad Campaign
Lush’s Facebook page has been bombarded with one-star ratings, and users have adopted the hashtag #FlushLush to campaign for a boycott of the company.
Lush has defended the campaign on social media, saying: “This isn’t an anti-police campaign, it’s to highlight the abuse that people face when their lives have been infiltrated by undercover police.”
It has directed social media critics to an essay about the scandal published on its website, and to an anonymous account by one victim, who spent five years in a relationship with a man she knew as Mark Cassidy, who was actually an undercover police officer called Mark Jenner.
Based in Poole in Dorset, Lush has a history of campaigning on political and ethical issues, including same-sex marriage in Australia, and helping to protect hen harriers in the UK. In 2016 US branches raised $300,000 for Syrian refugees by selling a limited edition Hand of Friendship soap.
Lush, whose headquarters are in Poole in Dorset, sought to defend the campaign. “To clear this up, this isn’t an anti-police campaign, it’s to highlight the abuse that people face when their lives have been infiltrated by undercover police,” the company tweeted.
The latest "advertising" campaign by LUSH UK….. ? You might now expect a 100% reduction in calls to the Police, given that they're displaying their contempt in their shop windows… pic.twitter.com/LGXCZ5o7BG
— UK Cop Humour (@UKCopHumour) May 31, 2018
In a statement released on its website, the brand said: “Lush will be hosting a national campaign to raise awareness of the ongoing undercover policing scandal, where officers have infiltrated the lives, homes and beds of activists.
“The campaign will support the already active #SpyCops conversation and aims to highlight the current lack of progress of the Undercover Policing Inquiry and the granting of anonymity to key police witnesses.”
This is very poorly thought out campaign @LushLtd & damaging to the overwhelmingly large majority of #police who have nothing to do with this #undercover enquiry.
I will now clear my house of any of your products and my family and friends will never use them again. #FlushLush https://t.co/BXuwUNH6mQ
— Ché Donald (@PFEW_Che) May 31, 2018
Lush has said its campaign was intended to urge the home secretary, Sajid Javid, to listen to campaigners who have accused the inquiry of endeavouring to protect officers.
Lush’s Facebook page has been hit with one-star ratings and the hashtag #FlushLush – a campaign to boycott the company – has gained increasing traction on Twitter. Its UK Facebook page has also been bombarded with negative reviews.
The Advertising Standards Authority said it was “assessing the complaints” made against the Lush campaign and the company is currently not under investigation.
Source: bbc.com, theguardian.com, independent.co.uk