In Advertisers: Men are Not Idiots, Glenn Sacks and Richard Smaglick argure that advertisers often default to men as “irresponsible fathers and lazy, foolish husbands,” and that’s a bad decision.
They cite a number of sources including a 2005 Leo Burnett “Man Study” that found that 4/5 of men surveyed felt they were portrayed incorrectly (where’s the ‘authenticity we keep hearing about?) and an incredible response to a host of articles and campaigns on the topic.
Sound like a Responsible Marketing backlash?
Smaglick is an advertising critic and the founder of the media-watchdog organization Fathers and Husbands. His advocacy group was founded in 2003 “in response to the increasing prevalence of negative representations of fathers, husbands and men in the mass media.”
Last year, it turned its attention to Arnold Worldwide claiming their ads for Fidelity bashed men. You’ve probably seen the Fidelity ads, as well as advertising for Radio Shack, Royal Caribbean, Nicoderm CQ, Truth and Jack Daniel’s. I know, interesting client mix.
For the most part, I haven’t had a problem with Fidelity’s advertising over the years. They are usually humorous, but not over the top.
Then I watched this video that combines a number of Fidelity’s ads:
I admit, seeing these ads end-to-end reveals a theme that isn’t flattering if you are father or a husband.
The last ad in the series features a woman in the lead role. It’s empowering on a number of levels, and taken on it’s own is worthy of real praise.
The contrast is palpable, isn’t it?
I know, we men are easy targets, but has Fidelity (and many other advertisers) taken it too far? Considering some of the challenges you men face today, is portraying fathers in this way socially responsible?
Or is this just innocent fun?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
Please comment below to weigh in.