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Brandweek: 'There's controversy in ad world over portrayal of fathers in TV ads'
Los Angeles, CA--"There's a mini-controversy brewing in the advertising world over the sometimes-stereotypical portrayal of fathers in TV ads. Most notably, fathers' rights advocate Glenn Sacks almost succeeded in derailing a bid by Arnold, Boston, to win the Volvo account. Sacks complained that a previous Arnold ad for Fidelity Investments showed a father in a negative light. Arnold has since won the account and Sacks said he has no issues with the agency's ads for Volvo. " We've done several protests against ads which portray men and fathers as clowns--see Campaign Against Anti-Father Verizon Commercial, Campaign Against Anti-Male Advertising, Campaign Against Detroit News ‘Get Her a Gift or She"ll Give You a Black Eye" Ad and Portable On Demand Storage Decides to Remove Anti-Male Ad in Face of Protests. The Volvo/Arnold campaign referenced above was the brainchild of advertising guru Richard Smaglick of www.fathersandhusbands.org, and he worked with me on the campaign. Brandweek Magazine is a weekly marketing trade publication, one of the largest in the advertising world. In November, Brandweek editor Todd Wasserman discussed the problem of 'Dad as Idiot' advertising in his column The Surviving Dads Of Ads (11/12/07), writing, "It"s hard to argue that guys like Sacks don"t have a point". He discussed several of the anti-male ads we cover on this blog, as well as some of our campaigns against anti-male advertising. After the article came out, our readers flooded the magazine with letters, 12 of which were printed--to read some of them and learn more, see my blog post Brandweek Prints Dozen Letters Criticizing Anti-Male Advertising. Later the Washington Times interviewed Wasserman and published an article on the subject of father-bashing in TV advertising. The Times wrote: "Todd Wasserman knew he had touched a nerve when he saw the enormous number of responses from readers...The dad-as-buffoon and the anti-father imagery seemingly permeated advertising and marketing campaigns, which continually use stereotypes about men to get cheap laughs, he observed...The letters poured in. 'I don't think we ever got so much reaction,' said Mr. Wasserman...the more people I talked to, the more it seemed a lot of people felt that way.'" Today Brandweek came out with a new article on the Spike network's True Dads series and the issue of how men and fathers are portrayed on television. They write: "The Spike network, home to Ultimate Fighting Championship and Steven Segal movies, is channeling that testosterone-fueled lineage to cater to that frequently mocked demo: dads. "The idea is proving to be an advertiser magnet, with Red Lobster recently inking a first-time deal for True Dads, an on-air series of spots that show dads spending time with their kids. Call it the slightly softer side of Spike." We'll be talking more about Spike's "True Dads" campaign soon. If readers would like to write a Letter to the Editor of Brandweek and express their views about the way men and fathers are portrayed within the advertising industry, go to [email protected]. One quibble--when Richard and I did the Volvo campaign, we weren't unhappy over one previous Arnold Worldwide ad, as Brandweek indicates, but several ads. Some of them can be seen on our campaign page here. Also, as I've explained many times, the problem is usually not this particular ad or that one, but instead a consistent pattern of portraying men negatively. To learn more about the problems with the way men are portrayed in advertising, click here. The Biz: Spike Takes Break From Bond Marathons To Laud Fathers Brandweek Magazine February 25, 2008 The Spike network, home to Ultimate Fighting Championship and Steven Segal movies, is channeling that testosterone-fueled lineage to cater to that frequently mocked demo: dads. The idea is proving to be an advertiser magnet, with Red Lobster recently inking a first-time deal for True Dads, an on-air series of spots that show dads spending time with their kids. Call it the slightly softer side of Spike. A number of sponsors, including Jeep, T-Mobile and Pizza Hut, already have linked with True Dads, which the network now sells as part of its upfront presentations to advertisers. The Darden Restaurants-owned Red Lobster chain's brand will be featured in the new co-branded spots starting next month. The program is an example of the ways in which cable channels are getting increasingly creative in order to snag ad dollars and give marketers face time outside of traditional ad pods. Broadcast networks are inching further into that territory, but the looser cable environment seems to favor the risk-taking necessary for the campaigns to work. Spike has embedded advertisers into unscripted series, such as Toyota's inclusion in Pros vs. Joes. Those deals often wind up spilling over to single-marketer commercial breaks, on-air contests and other attention-grabbing gimmicks. Spike has a history of packaging its shows, from its wrestling and movie nights to late night sports and reality. The network created a micro-miniseries for Mountain Dew, 45-second segments, to run in Thursday night's TNA Impact, a series that's a little mixed martial arts and a lot of theatricality. On the horizon for ad partners: live commercials. "The market demands it right now," said Chris Rapp, Spike's vp-integrated marketing, "and putting short-form content on the air gets viewers more engaged in the brand and in our network." True Dads works like this: when an advertiser wants to participate, Spike's internal creative team comes up with a concept for linking the theme of dads and kids with the brand's message. With input from the marketer, the team puts together a custom-made co-branded spot, usually 30 seconds, that airs throughout Spike's schedule. Advertisers have bought into the program for weeks or months at a stretch. The Red Lobster spot features a father and his son on a fishing trip that turns out to be not too successful. They have to eat something, so their seafood craving is satisfied at Red Lobster. The family-friendly campaign, emphasizing the "fresh" theme of the restaurant chain's current mantra, happens to coincide nicely with Lent, a time when fish consumption is up. Spike has done similar work for Dunkin' Donuts, T-Mobile and Dominos. Those brands have been woven into vignettes called The CSI Guys, a parody of the popular CSI series. The stars of that short-form programming might use a victim's cell phone to call for pizza, for instance. The marketers always have approval of the spots, but rarely want to tone down the irreverence. "We position ourselves as the voice for guys," Rapp said, "and advertisers look to us to figure out ways to connect with that audience in the language they speak." True Dads comes as there's a mini-controversy brewing in the advertising world over the sometimes-stereotypical portrayal of fathers in TV ads. Most notably, fathers' rights advocate Glenn Sacks almost succeeded in derailing a bid by Arnold, Boston, to win the Volvo account. Sacks complained that a previous Arnold ad for Fidelity Investments showed a father in a negative light. Arnold has since won the account and Sacks said he has no issues with the agency's ads for Volvo.