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Hawaiian Tropic Drops Bikini Contest


h2Another bastion of sexism in marketing bites the dust. Tuesday Hawaiian Tropic announced it was retiring its long-running bikini contest. A staple of Hawaiian Tropics marketing since 1983, the bikini contests were a signature of the brand. So what happened?

Somebody at Hawaiian Tropic finally realized that the majority of their consumers were women. And women don’t care about bikini contests as much as guys do. So they’re cancelling them.

Oh. OK.

Replacing the bikini contest is one that focuses above the neck, with a search for what the brand is calling the new face of Hawaiian Tropic. The contest, which will be held through the brand’s Facebook page, will ask contestants to fill out a character profile with the aim of, as marketing materials put it, finding the “woman who best embodies everything Hawaiian Tropic now stands for — beauty, confidence, style, enjoying the sun and keeping skin healthy.”

The change in tune came not as a result of backlash from the bikini contests. Instead increased consumer awareness of skin cancer risks and the brand was purchased by Energizer Holdings in 2007 prompted the move.

While we at Thought-Tech lament the demise of the bikini contest we are surprised it took the brand so long to figure out their customers were mostly women…and to our knowledge most women don’t give a darn about bikini contests.

Knowing your target audience is not a nice thing to know. It’s essential.

In the same space is Dove which seems to have an exceptionally good handle on who their customer is. In fact Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign has gone viral – in large part for its effectiveness but also because “Real Beauty” resonates with Dove consumers.

While we’ll miss the cheekiness of the Hawaiian Tropic bikini contest we’d prefer to see marketing elevated to new levels such as Dove’s “Real Beauty”. Watch the Dove spot. Nearly 28 million other people have.

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