Dustin Hoffman 'Retard' Ad For Mobile Phone Accessory Company Angers Autistics

Lately, Dustin Hoffman has been quite busy flashing his mug in ad campaigns. Following a recent television commercial for the Audi A6 in which Hoffman re-enacts the famous church scene from "The Graduate," Hoffman's 1988 "Rain Man" likeness is seen in an ad for OneToo, a mobile phone accessory company in the U.K. The ad, which ran in a football (soccer for us Americans) magazine called FourFourTwo, promotes OneToo's mobile phone logos and wallpapers.

All well and good except for one tiny detail. The ad contains the word "retard" emblazoned across Hoffman's image. The National Autistic Society didn't take too kindly to that and has complained the U.K.'s Advertising Standards Authority which agreed with the NSA saying the ad would, indeed, cause "serious and widespread offence amongst people with autism, their carers and their families".

OneToo has been in hot water before following an ad showing a gorilla's face on the body of a black woman in a bikini.

by Steve Hall    Mar-23-04    

Horny No More For U.S. Soldiers

For soldiers in need of a little diversion, they will soon have one less outlet. Drill Magazine, published by John Brown Publishing, will bare cleavage no longer after its third and final issue. New York Daily News reports John Brown Publishing may merge with or be bought by Rodale. All this merging and backroom purging among publishers is all at the expense of the American soldier. Come on publishers, where's your American patriotic spirit?

by Steve Hall    Mar-23-04    

Blue Fusion Launches In-School Youth CAPTV

Comprised of source boards, book covers and postering, Youth CAPTV is the latest in-school advertising venture. Youth CAPTV parent company Blue Fusion Managing Partner Morris Reid says he's aware of the dicey prospect of in-school advertising but is a proponent of the channel as long as it is done tastefully.

"Schools are strapped for revenue, so I think they're looking towards arrangements that are more entrepreneurial," Reid said. "It's a necessity for them, really, and I think our model is both viable and appropriate."

I have mixed feeling about in-school advertising writing in a previous post, "Whether this is harmful to children will be debated for years to come. There should be a time of innocence in life where commercialism does not enter in with its powerfully persuasive messages selling things people don't really need or want. Young minds have enough trouble filtering through the information that is relevant to their daily lives. The age at which a kid becomes indoctrinated into commercial culture gets younger every year. Let's not get to the point where a newly delivered baby, eyes just cleared by the doctor, stares at the ceiling of the delivery room and sees a McDonald's logo."

I'm not entirely sure I see it that way anymore. Like anything, done right, this initiative could prove to provide commercialism that is far more "vetted" than what kids see and hear in other media. One can be sure, with all the teachers, parents and administrators walking school hallways, any advertiser that "crosses the line" will be booted out immediately. There's a built in ad-review board of sorts. And that's not even accounting for the jaded "you can't sell me" attitude that's already pervasive in today's youth which can instantly flop any ad campaign attempting to "fool" its target.

It's no secret that school districts need money to survive. They're already pocketing money from school bus advertising and other means. While advertising continues to be the necessarily evil contract between marketer and consumer, it can become a productive and informative conversation as well. Let's hope this latest move heads in that direction.

by Steve Hall    Mar-23-04    

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