Readers Weigh In on Why Mother and Father Know Best

I’m writing to thank you for your coverage of Glenn Sacks’ campaign against anti-male stereotyping in advertising [“Father Knows Best, March 12] and for the column “Dumb and Dumber” by Lorraine Duffy Merkl [March 19]. I agree with [their] points, but I’m intrigued that Merkl offers The Gap/Claire Danes commercial as a “[step] in the right direction.” In my opinion, that commercial represents a very small step. It is refreshing that the two actors appear to actually enjoy each other’s company, but from the jingle to the conclusion, the commercial is a dramatization of emasculation. In the end, Danes literally wears the pants in their relationship.

Ironically, this “enlightened” commercial is marketing a product to a female demographic target. Personally, I expect that the men featured in this type of advertisement would be there primarily to help make the women look good. My primary concern relates to gender neutral products—automobiles, food, household goods, banking, insurance—where the ad should appeal equally to members of either gender. So I was much more disturbed by the ad for the full-size truck, where the “father” is towing a boat through the desert, obviously lost and refusing his wife’s “suggestion” that he use the navigation system. When I saw that commercial, my first thought was, “Wow, are they trying to sell full-size trucks to women now?”

Certainly, there have been some really inspiring ads. Jif brand peanut butter comes immediately to mind for their updated slogan, “Choosy moms and dads choose Jif.” [sic] But for every Jif, there’s an ad saying, “Daddy used to eat not-so-good-stuff before he met Mommy” [Cheerios]. So, in my pantry, you’ll find J.M. Smucker products but no General Mills, because Smucker’s seems to understand that during the 25 percent of time that my son is visiting me, everything he eats is the result of a purchasing decision made by me, and I only do business with companies that acknowledge and ask for my patronage.

Steve Winfield

Operations Specialist

FirstEnergy Corp, Cleveland

Thank you for publishing the recent article, “Father Knows Best.” Glenn Sacks brings to light an aspect of advertising many in the industry seem to have forgotten—much more than the product is sold in many commercials.

In one commercial, “Ping-Pong,” for Fidelity, the notion that fathers are insensitive is more prominent than the sponsor of the ad. In another, “Chatterbox” [sic] for Volvo, the concept that dads are loving parents is emphasized as strongly as the vehicle.

When a father is belittled, more than the parent is hurt. The belief that dads do not matter is instilled. And this is an unhealthy thought for any child to consider.

Advertisers need to remember children need both parents. And advertisers and children need to have respect for parents. Great commercials can be made with this concept in mind.

Don Mathis

Editor, The Fourteen Percenter

Sherman, Texas

Auto Industry Layoffs One Reason ‘Robot’ Believed to Be Insensitive

I read your article commenting on the use of suicide in ads, in particular GM and Volkswagen [“Going Over a Ledge,” Feb. 19]. While I am glad to hear that GM [edited] its ad, I am surprised that you and other critics have not said much about the theme. It seems that GM and Deutsch and everyone else has forgotten that hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs in the auto industry in the last two to three years. The city of Detroit caries the highest amount of bankruptcies in the nation due to the layoffs at the big car companies. The economy of the entire Midwest has been damaged.

This ad follows the robot through a nightmare sequence that is all too real for many, many people. The insensitivity and poor taste of making fun of anyone who has lost a job in the auto industry is gigantic. In addition, the Monday after this ad ran on the Super Bowl, Chrysler announced they were closing another plant and laying off 10,000 workers.

Even after editing out the suicide, I see no humor in this ad. I am deeply disappointed in journalists who cover the auto industry in not reacting to the ad as a whole as well as the suicide.

In closing, I would like to mention that while by some stretch of the imagination it could be argued that Deutsch is out of touch with the Midwest, we should remember that it is GM that approved the ad and allowed it to run.

Paulette Glauser

San Diego