Let’s end the week contemplating a controversy originally reported at the beginning of the week regarding the upcoming Advertising Week to be held the last week in September.
The incident was ignited by a print ad that ran in the July 18, 2005 edition of Advertising Age. The ad promoted the annual extravaganza with cleavage bursting from a bustier and a headline announcing, “Advertising: we all do it.” The sexual angle was furthered with copy reading, “Come listen. Come learn. Come celebrate.” The hackneyed morons behind the concept are presumably coming in their boxers right now, anticipating Gold Lions. They deserve golden showers.
Of course, the ad drew outrage from women in the business — and an apparent shrug from 4As President-CEO O. Burtch Drake.
Executive Director at Advertising Women of New York Liz Schroeder wondered, “What does it tell you about Advertising Week? Is the event a strip show?” Schroeder should be asking what it tells about the advertising industry. The answer is both obvious and disturbing.
Once again, our leaders have demonstrated thorough insensitivity and clueless disregard for anyone who isn’t a White male. Now before everyone accuses MultiCultClassics of seeing biased behavior in everything, please review the facts.
For starters, the print ad was approved by a group of White men (most of whom are semi-elderly to boot): Drake, Euro RSCG CEO Ron Berger, DDB Worldwide President-CEO Ken Kaess and Executive Director of Advertising Week Matt Scheckner. Sooner than later, count on these gentlemen to make attempts at self-deprecating humor. They shouldn’t be allowed to get off so easy — pun intended.
Scheckner insisted, “The campaign overall achieves our goal. We are happy.” No doubt. Scheckner probably pored over selects prior to blessing the final titty picture. Or if the image was shot, he most likely requested a front row seat in the photographer’s studio. Plus, somebody needs to probe Scheckner on the goal he claimed was achieved — preferably with a rectal exam scope.
Drake outdid Scheckner with his own asinine explanation. According to the subsequent Advertising Age story, Drake contended the ad targeted a very sophisticated audience that would react to it differently than regular folks. Spare us the elitist hype, Professor Drake. Communicating to sophisticated people with sophomoric bullshit is lame.
Drake showed a lot less class when stating, “All advertising is subjective… I don’t think it’s that big a deal.” Technically, it’s not that big a deal only when considering the depicted breasts don’t appear to be surgically enhanced. But it should be significant for a person of Drake’s alleged stature. It’s no wonder the 4As has completely failed to make any visible progress in its diversity efforts too.
Women weren’t the sole critics in this scenario. One anonymous male executive admitted, “This is exactly the kind of stuff the ad industry should be trying to get away from. The old guys at the golf club.” The person who delivered the quote should be awarded Drake’s title effective immediately.
Drake closed by commenting, “…If there’s any blame, place it squarely with me.” Well, that’s mighty White of you, O. Taking responsibility when envisioning no negative consequences is the clichéd tactic of a stereotypical adman.
Why are the “Aw, shucks!” and eye-rolling responses — which display a consistent apathy and pattern of offense from authority figures — always tolerated by the rest of us?
At some point, we need to demand new and improved standards. Perhaps it must start with new and improved leadership.