The recent dismissal of Lisa LaFlamme from CTV National News has sparked widespread debate about age discrimination in the workplace, with two prominent brands, Wendy’s and Dove, voicing their support for the veteran journalist. However, their approaches to advocacy have raised questions about whether they are genuinely championing the cause or simply seizing an opportunity for publicity.
It has been widely reported that LaFlamme’s decision to embrace her natural gray hair during the pandemic was a key factor in her dismissal, with allegations of age discrimination coming to the forefront. Two major brands, Wendy’s and Dove, have shown their support for LaFlamme, albeit in different ways.
Wendy’s, the fast-food chain, made a notable move by changing the profile picture on its Canadian Twitter account. Instead of the familiar image of their mascot with red pigtails, they used an image of the mascot with gray hair. Accompanying this change was the caption, “because a star is a star no matter hair color,” with Lisa LaFlamme’s name used as a hashtag.
However, Wendy’s gesture did not receive the overwhelmingly positive response they may have anticipated. Many Twitter users expressed confusion, as Wendy’s had never been associated with ageism issues. Some critics argued that Wendy’s had missed the point, emphasizing that the issue is not solely about hair color but primarily about ageism in the workplace.
In contrast, Dove Canada adopted a more comprehensive and thoughtful approach with its “Keep the Gray” campaign. This campaign celebrates the beauty of aging and emphasizes that women should have the freedom to embrace it on their terms without facing consequences. Dove encouraged individuals to change their profile pictures to grayscale to show support for the cause.
Unlike Wendy’s, Dove did not reference Lisa LaFlamme in any of the campaign materials. Furthermore, Dove committed to donating $100,000 to Catalyst, a nonprofit organization that works to create inclusive workplaces for women.
The response from CP24, a news outlet owned by Bell, the same parent company as CTV, also garnered attention. CP24 shared an article from The Canadian Press cautioning marketers about the potential backlash they might face for leveraging the LaFlamme dismissal issue.
Retail analyst Bruce Winder, quoted in the article, expressed his views on the brands’ responses to the controversy. He considered Wendy’s reaction to be somewhat shallow, while Dove’s approach was deemed deeper and more serious. However, he also noted that both brands appeared somewhat opportunistic, capitalizing on a trending topic and potentially appearing insincere in their efforts.
The controversy surrounding Lisa LaFlamme’s dismissal has ignited a broader discussion about age discrimination in the workplace. While brands like Wendy’s and Dove have expressed support for the cause, the public’s response suggests that authenticity and a genuine commitment to addressing ageism are essential factors in advocating for change in the workplace.
As the debate continues, it serves as a reminder that advocacy should be thoughtful and sincere, driven by a genuine desire to bring about positive change rather than simply seizing an opportunity for publicity. Age discrimination remains a significant issue that requires careful consideration and meaningful action from all stakeholders.