Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Super Bowl advertising revisited...

According to a recent Reuters report, the PC Shocktroops are at it again...

Reuters reported that several special interest groups have demanded that certain ads never be shown again. The advertisements included GM's suicidal production line robot, the Snickers ad with the two mechanics ending up in a "Lady and the Tramp" kiss, and the Nationwide ad featuring Kevin Federline working the fries at a fast food restaurant. It also noted an issue that arose from the ad campaign for the new Hannibal movie.

Let's address each complaint:

1. "GM became the subject of sharp criticism when The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention complained about the insensitivity of a commercial by the automaker that showed a factory robot leaping from a bridge after it was fired for a making a mistake.
The group said in a statement the commercial 'is offensive to the tens of millions of survivors of suicide loss nationwide. In its carelessness, it portrays suicide as a viable option when someone fails or loses their job.'"

GM responded by saying that they did not mean to offend anyone, but they will not change the spot.

Is the criticism justified for their spot? Yes - but not by the AFSP. In their complaint the AFSP comes off as the parents that sue MTV or Warner Brothers because they haven't imbued their children with enough common sense to realize that Beavis & Butthead or Wile E. Coyote are cartoon characters. It's a frakkin' robot - and if you can't make that distinction when contemplating suicide, maybe - just maybe - you have a serious mental issue that needs 24 hour care...not an hour per week with a therapist, but serious effing observation...y'know, 24-7-365.

Now employees and the recently unemployed in Detroit's motor industry have a legitimate complaint that the spot is insensitive and in bad taste based on this little snippet reported on February 1 by David Shepardson of the Detroit News, "GM and Ford have lost more than $25 billion since 2006, while cutting more than 55,000 hourly jobs and thousands of salaried jobs. GM wants to close nine plants by 2008, while Ford is in the process of shuttering 14 factories by 2012. GM's accounting is the subject of an SEC probe." For the full story, click here.

Makes me question my desire to ever buy American again.

2. "This year's advertisement by Masterfoods, a unit of privately-held Mars, showed two auto mechanics locked in an accidental kiss while eating a Snickers candy bar, then ripping out chest hair to prove they are 'manly.'

"'The makers of Snickers and its parent company at Mars should know better,' the Human Rights Campaign said in a statement. 'If they have any questions about why the ad isn't funny, we can help put them in touch with any number of Americans who have suffered hate crimes.'"

The ad was pulled the next day.

Justified? Only if they were defending homophobes, because, and let's be honest, this ad made fun of the homophobic, not the homosexual. I guess making fun of prejudice that is without base is off-limits now as well.

Somehow, in light of their faster-than-light-speed we're so sorry to have offended response, I find myself respecting GM for not caving to special interest groups, in spite of the fact that GM had the more offensive ad. If they pulled the ad because they deemed it unfunny, or decided they didn't like it, that would have been one thing, but because you offended a few people? Hell, I do that everyday...usually by the time I've had breakfast.

3. "Even before the Super Bowl aired on February 4 on CBS, drawing the third largest U.S. television audience ever, the National Restaurant Association called an ad featuring Kevin Federline as a fast-food worker demeaning to the industry.

"The commercial by Nationwide Financial Services had not even aired when the group called for it to be dumped."

I won't even ponder whether this one is justified as it is by far and away the most ridiculous of all the complaints - unless the Restaurant Association felt Kevin Federline as a fast-food worker was demeaning to the industry, not the fall from grace that the ad implied (it is my understanding that the music industry does indeed consider it demeaning that people consider K-Fed part of that industry).

Let's take a minute to ponder the joke that is the world of, "do you want fries with that?" It is a minimum wage world with a huge profit margin. While employment in the industry is okay in high school, and it is honest work, there is a stigma that goes with working fast food world that is there not because of ads like this, but because of the refusal of mega-corporations like McDonald's and Burger King to raise salaries to living wages in order to keep prices down (in spite of the fact that people at corporate make a very comfortable living off the sweat equity of those in the kitchen making minimum wage).

4. From the ridiculous to the ludicrous, "CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves told a conference this week the network turned away millions of dollars worth of ads it deemed unfit for this year's game.

"In one case, he said, the network discussed changing the wording of a film critic's endorsement of the feature film 'Hannibal Rising' to remove the word 'terrifying.'"

When society has gotten to the point that changing a word in the endorsement of a HORROR film (for Christ's sake) from "terrifying" to something else we have gone way too far as a society.

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