Sunday, July 27, 2008

5748: Slightly Off On Offenses.

Advertising Age Editor Jonah Bloom presents an attempt at levity over the recent spate of offensive advertising. However, Bloom technically makes an error in his perspective. Advertising agency executives rarely receive direct criticism for their insensitivity; rather, the advertisers take the heat for Madison Avenue’s ignorance.

Dear Sir: I Write to Inform You That I’ve Taken Offense …
It’s Been One of Those Weeks

By Jonah Bloom

This week everyone was offended. Bob Garfield and some gay lobbyists found a gay-bashing agenda in a juvenile Snickers ad; animal-rights activists railed against the portrayal of pit bulls as aggressive in a Verizon spot; others bemoaned an appeals court’s decision not to uphold the FCC’s fine against CBS for accidentally letting the public see a bit of breast. I thought I’d reassure the people fighting against such offenses today they’re not alone, so I looked back through the archive (in my head) and found these:

Dear Mr. Ogilvy,
Your esotericism has got the better of you. While you and your cronies on Madison Avenue may think there’s something cute about employing an eye patch for the purpose of selling Hathaway shirts, the sight-impaired among us can still see enough to know that this is nothing but a cheap, offensive stunt and that it is you, sir, who lacks vision.

The only possible interpretation of your decision is that you are the kind of man who rides roughshod over people less physically able than yourself, deeming them suitable targets for mimicry and even mockery. Do you shove people from their wheelchairs too?

Your despicable approach will win you no friends among the many-million-strong blind lobby and our friends, and we intend to urge Hathaway to dismiss your agency immediately. This is no way to sell shirts.

Dear Mr. Bernbach,
Since when was it OK to stigmatize a defenseless fruit? I suppose as long as you’re hawking strange little German autos, it doesn’t matter to you that you’re destroying not only the great American car-manufacturing business, but also those of us who feed our children by engaging in the honest and humble profession of lemon growing.

There is nothing imperfect about lemons, and my colleagues and I deeply resent the implication that our lovingly cultivated crop is somehow flawed. I suppose you yourself have never quaffed a refreshing glass of lemonade on a hot summer’s day, nor asked the bartender for a lemon drop martini on one of your many trips to a Mad Ave cocktail establishment.

You’ll never get anywhere with this kind of crude humor, Mr. Bernbach, and I can tell you that the fruit farmers among us will not be ditching our U.S.-made vehicles anytime soon.

Dear Mr. Clow,
I don’t know where to start with the inexplicable aberration that aired in the recent Super Bowl.

If you had suffered as my family has suffered, perhaps you would not have been so quick to show a sledgehammer handled in such an irresponsible manner. Three years ago my husband temporarily lost the use of his left thumb in an atrocious nailing incident. A trip to the hospital and several weeks of missed work later, he was still unable to hammer anything without reopening the psychological scar. Since this time we’ve embarked on a mission to educate the public about the risks of pounding one object with another designed for that purpose.

For you to show a hammer—and not just a ball-peen or framing, but a sledge—being used so recklessly not only undoes our work, but jeopardizes the safety of millions by encouraging such misuse of heavy objects. Should there be a hammer-related death next year, it will be on your conscience.

(Incidentally I have also written to the FCC to demand it fine you for the reckless act of featuring a scantily clad lady in indecently tight shorts. If people want that sort of filth, they need only visit the Hooters restaurant chain; the rest of us would like to preserve our children’s innocence.)

Clean up your act, Clow—you’re helping neither yourself nor Apple.

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