Adrants Congratulates Pit Bulls, Mr. T on Job Well Done

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Hmm. Let's see if we can drag this "OMG, it's gay bashing" Snickers kerfuffle out just a bit longer and try to snag a few more vociferous comments. Hey, Advertising Age is doing it. Why not Adrants? Rather than move on, much like the rest of the non-ad world has..if they even heard the whining in the first place, Advertising Age decided to do...yes...a trend piece on banned ads adding to Snickers the Verizon Pit Bull ad and the swearing Churchill Insurance dog.

Is this really what the industry needs to spend its time debating? Oh wait, of course it does. That's all this industry does; bitch about the work of others' while inflating ego balloons over their own. And that's before the cause groups enter the debate.

The Snickers ad was funny. The Verizon ad was innocuous. The Churchill ad was...well, it was just weird. They are all all over the internet and there's nothing any brand, cause group or Bob Garfield can do about it.

There is something, though, the offended can do in similar situations if their goal is to make sure people don't see these ads. Nothing. Yes, nothing. Do nothing. Say nothing. Ignore the ads. But no, the cause groups (and critics) have to pump these things up by fanning the flame (we know, we've done it here) which insures an inverse result: everyone talks about them and everyone sees them.

And guess what...the brands who paid for these commercials and the agencies which created them are popping champagne bottles in the conference and laughing their way way to the bank in celebration of all the free publicity these "banned ads" bring.

And the hand full of people who swear never to buy a Mars or Verizon product EVAR again? Inconsequential. An unregistered blip on these brands' P&Ls.

Of course, half this stuff is purposefully planned in the first place to incite negative reaction with full knowledge critics and cause groups won't be able to keep their panties untwisted or their mouths shut.

And so the cycle continues.

UPDATE: Kathy Bauch from the Humane Society responds in Comments.

by Steve Hall    Jul-28-08   Click to Comment   
Topic: Opinion   

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Comments



Comments

if this doesn't get bob garfield the pulitzer—if not a nobel prize—nothing will.

Posted by: whatever on July 28, 2008 12:44 PM

I'm with one of those "cause groups" (The Humane Society of the United States)that complained about the Verizon Wireless spot. We get lots of complaints about commercials, but we only reach out to advertisers when we believe a spot can actually lead to harm for animals. This one fit the bill. (and if anyone wants to know why, just contact me) So here's a standing offer to all creatives. Send me a concept, script or storyboard and I can tell you if you're about to step in something smelly BEFORE you spend $$ to do it. Free of charge.

Posted by: Kathy Bauch on July 28, 2008 2:48 PM

Ha! Kathy, your offer presumes that the creatives would suspect they were heading towards trouble. Don’t you get it? These things happen because the people involved are completely oblivious to the issues. They are totally insensitive. Clueless. That being said, the complaints on the Verizon spot are nothing short of ridiculous.

Posted by: whatever on July 28, 2008 4:07 PM

Well, actually, the complaints are not ridiculous. At least not from our perspective. And as I mentioned, I get a ton of complaints about ads from souls far more sensitive than I...and I do exactly what you suggest for most. Lay low and not draw attention to the ads. But here's the thing with this one from the perspective of people who have to deal with these issues every day (and forgive the relatively lengthy message here).

Pit bulls are among the most abused dogs. Some, many, are bad dogs. Many, probably many more, are not. Yet there are many places where people can't rent if they have one, or get homeowner's insurance, or can't legally have a dog that even resembles a pit. So this spot reinforces all of that at a time when shelters around the country are overrun with pit bulls. These shelters get hosed by the public (and some animal rights groups, though not by us) for euthanizing them; they have to be extra careful when trying to adopt them, etc. So this is a real, every day
problem for animal shelters, and responsible dog owners. The commercial plays into the stereotype that causes much of these problems.

Chained dogs/guard dogs. More than 100 ommunities in more than 30 states have legislated against chaining in some form (so one could argue the spot is encouraging illegal behavior, though we didn't take that tack). Chained dogs ("pets" or guard dogs) are usually neglected, abused, more prone to bite, more prone to die of starvation. Again, not something good to depict.

You can't be (I wouldn't think) in advertising if you don't believe in the power of the message, overt or subliminal. We, other animal groups,
animal shelters, and people who care about animals try hard to tell people that dogs should be inside as members of the family, chaining is
bad, not all pit bulls are vicious killers -- and a spot like this uses as a reference point exactly what we tell people not to do or believe. I can't speak for other advocacy groups, but in the animal field, we are often swimming upstream from mainstream thought. We tell people that
some of their beliefs about how to treat animals no longer hold true. So it's disheartening to have an image--backed by a lot of money to shove
it out there--that negates all the effort. tks

Posted by: Kathy Bauch on July 29, 2008 9:29 AM

Kathy,

I am in advertising. Very successful, in fact.

The difficulty is, like it or not, advertising uses stereotypes. We have to, in order to quickly communicate concepts. Now, this doesn’t mean that we should push negative stereotypes or perpetuate damaging stereotypes. Hopefully, the stereotypes are being used for a strategic, brand-relevant motives. In the case of Snickers, despite the people criticizing outraged respondents as being overly PC, there was a negative, destructive and unhealthy stereotype being used—physical assaults on gay and/or effeminate (Bob Garfield’s term) people. There are hate crime laws that specifically address violence against people based on things like sexual orientation.

It’s unfortunate that pit bulls have a negative reputation. But they get almost more negative press than positive. Even you seem to imply the realities. You say, “…not ALL pit bulls are vicious killers.” Did you also protest Steven Spielberg for producing “Jaws”? Not all sharks are vicious killers. Additionally, as you admitted, the argument did not tap into the laws you referenced—which are not even enforced on a national level. Your argument seems to really be against the people who chain/mistreat animals versus what Verizon was doing with its depiction. The Verizon spot was not communicating that all pit bulls are bad and should be chained and hated. I feel like you just jumped on Verizon to support/hype your tangential cause.

To be clear, I think you have a legitimate and real cause. And it needs to be addressed. But attacking Verizon does not make you look good, in my professional opinion. Especially since you did not make your full argument public (the PR just made it look like you were the pit bull equivalent of tree huggers).

Posted by: whatever on July 29, 2008 11:06 AM







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