A frozen yogurt chain has apologized over a marketing email blast's attempt at political humor told subscribers of its newsletter to "Grab 'em by the fro-yo."
The advertisement was emailed Wednesday by 16 Handles, a New York-based company with locations across eastern U.S., including a shop in Brookline, Massachusetts, where customers said they were offended.
"I think it's clearly offensive and the fact that they're makign money off of it just irritates me," Robert Kovalko said.
The email subject line read "We're Making Fro-Yo Great Again," with American flag emojis on either side.
"Tonight's debate will be pretty heated. Cool off with some Fro-Yo from 16 Handles! Be sure to order in time for the presidential debate at 9 PM," the email read.
The advertisement played on controversial comments made by Donald Trump, captured on a hot mic 11 years ago, in which the GOP presidential nominee said that women let him, as a celebrity, do anything, including "grab 'em by the p---y."
“I think it’s disrespectful to women who have been sexually assaulted, mishandled or abused in any way,” Jennifer Champy said.
“You shouldn’t make jokes about sexual assault,” Elizabeth Paquett said.
A few hours later, 16 Handles issued an apology to the e-blast recipients. The company also published their apology on its official Twitter and Facebook accounts.
"The 16 Handles team deeply regrets any unintended harm our recent e-blast has caused. We do not endorse any presidential candidates, nor their statements or actions," the company wrote. "In an attempt to facetiously reference pop culture, we made a callous mistake. We apologize for the offense we have caused, and we would like to remind our customers that we oppose all forms of sexual abuse and harassment."
We are deeply apologetic, and we will do better. ���� pic.twitter.com/mKL0EuPzdu
— 16 Handles (@16Handles) October 19, 2016
The email and subsequent apology have some questioning if politics should play a role in product marketing.
David Gerzof, president of BIGfish PR in Brookline, said it is not unusual for brands to want to tap into trends, but they have to be careful.
“Not everything is always funny and not everyone is a comedian,” Gerzof said. “You want to go up to the edge to get attention, but you don’t want to go over the edge, and that’s what happened here.”