Tuesday, July 22, 2008
5730: Garfield Barks At Verizon And McCann…?
Advertising Age reported another instance of offensive messaging from Madison Avenue: The unfair depiction of pit bulls in a Verizon commercial created by McCann Erickson. Since Bob Garfield is probably too busy ranting against homophobic Snickers spots, MultiCultClassics graciously drafted the following for our culture-crusading compatriot…
An Open Letter to Verizon and McCann Erickson
You Have Produced a Pit Bullphobic Spot. Doggone It!
By Bob Garfield (sort of)
Dear Verizon and McCann Erickson:
Verizon has aired commercials making dads look dumb, prompting official protests. McCann Erickson has been accused of ageism by veteran employees. So it’s no surprise that two bigoted enterprises should team up to heap bias and discrimination on innocent pit bulls.
This despicable spot is explicitly malevolent and beyond the pale. So unseemly, so perverse, so beneath you. This dog shit is enough to make me consider dumping Verizon for Comcast.
This is from Verizon’s own statement on corporate diversity (McCann Erickson doesn’t appear to have a statement on corporate diversity, which explains a lot): “It is Verizon Wireless’ policy that threatening, insubordinate, violent or obscene behavior by any employee will not be tolerated. Prohibited conduct includes, but is not limited to, derogatory remarks, discriminatory slurs and harassing jokes.” Is that so? My guess is that the pit bulls abused and destroyed by Michael Vick would take a different view. Because your commercial is just a cartoonish stereotype of family-friendly pets that are occasionally used for illegal dogfighting.
How could you be so insensitive, how could you be so shallow, and how could you be so mean as a Chihuahua?
This letter is to you, but it is equally to your hound-hating colleagues throughout the industry. Are you so bereft, of ideas and simple animal humaneness, that you must be reduced to stereotyping and pit bullying? That you must identify a “bitch” to ridicule, or worse? That you must build a brand on the backs of canines who have harmed no one save for, well, countless incidents of vicious mauling and death?
Stop the dehumanizing stereotypes—even for non-humans. Stop the rabid violence. There is no place in advertising for cruelty (except to minorities). Pull the commercial. Do it now. Then tell your people how to behave—plus how to sit, roll over and beg. Or else you might get hit in the snout with a rolled-up newspaper.