There is a lot of debate about age discrimination at the moment and the company wanted to use that energy for good, a senior executive at Unilever Canada said.
After more than 35 years at CTV, Lisa LaFlamme, the chief news anchor, was fired, reportedly on account of her graying hair. LaFlamme revealed the news of her firing in a video that was uploaded to Twitter, saying the decision "blindsided" her and expressing her "shock and sadness" over it. "On June 29, I was informed that Bell Media made a 'business decision' to end my contract, bringing to a sudden close my career with CTV News," she said, according to TODAY.
Bell Media, CTV's parent company, listed "changing viewer habits" as a factor without specifically stating the reason for LaFlamme's departure. However, The Globe and Mail reported that Michael Melling, the head of CTV News, questioned the former anchor's graying hair. According to a senior CTV official who attended the meeting, Melling allegedly asked who had given their consent to "let Lisa's hair go gray." Melling also claimed that because of the studio lighting, LaFlamme's hair color was "taking on a purple hue." In her video, LaFlamme clarified that she was asked to keep this news "confidential from my colleagues and the public until the specifics of my exit could be resolved."
Age is beautiful. Women should be able to do it on their own terms, without any consequences 👩🏼🦳👩🏾🦳Dove is donating $100,000 to Catalyst, a Canadian organization helping build inclusive workplaces for all women. Go grey with us, turn your profile picture greyscale and #KeepTheGrey pic.twitter.com/SW5X93r4Qj— Dove Canada (@DoveCanada) August 21, 2022
In response to Bell Media's action, companies have released statements on aging taking a stand for LaFlamme. "Age is beautiful," Dove Canada wrote. The beauty brand took a shot at businesses that force older women out of their jobs as part of their campaign "Keep The Grey," urging people to change their profile pictures to grayscale and also share pictures of themselves in grayscale. "Go grey with us, turn your profile picture grayscale," stated the message. The traditional Dove logo also transitions to gray in the campaign video.
“Women with grey hair are being edged out of the workplace. So Dove is going grey. Together we can support women aging beautifully on their own terms,” read the message. LaFlamme, who is 58 and has spent her working life at CTV's newsdesk, shared that she still thought that she'd "have a lot more time to tell more of the stories that impact our daily lives. Instead, I leave CTV humbled by the people who put their faith in me to tell their story."
A senior executive at Dove owner Unilever Canada told The Toronto Star that the campaign was timed perfectly. Leslie Golts, head of marketing for Unilever Canada's beauty and well-being division, stated that there is a lot of debate about age discrimination at the moment and that the company wanted to use that energy for good. Golts argued that there should be a wider discussion about how women are discriminated against for reasons unrelated to their ability to perform their jobs. “We often hear stories about discrimination related to the beauty choices that women have made,” said Golts. “And we certainly want to stand for change.” Dove Canada also announced on Twitter that it is supporting Catalyst, an organization that works to "build inclusive workplaces for all women," with $100,000.
Wendy's, an international fast food restaurant chain, also announced its support on Twitter writing that a star is a star "regardless of hair colour," with the hashtag #LisaLaFlamme. The food chain put up a picture of its iconic red-haired girl logo, except that the girl in this photo had gray pigtails.
In the wake of mounting online criticism, CTV has also responded with a report on Wendy's, Dove, as well as Twitter users' reactions, titled "In wake of LaFlamme’s exit, brands should be wary when jumping on hot topics: experts," stating that brands should beware of blowback after integrating news moments into their branding.