By heather | February 8, 2010
I have the kind of job where people are compelled to ask me what my major was in college. For the record, my degree is in Advertising and Public Relations with a minor in Business Administration and has absolutely NOTHING to do with my job.
My engineering-major husband liked to joke that to earn my degree I watched television and analyzed commercials. This is true. I would rather be watching commercials than plowing through hours of complex math problems that take 4 sheets of paper to solve when both paths resulted in a college degree.
Therefore I feel somewhat qualified to rant on the Dodge Charger spot from the Super Bowl last night. When the commercial started with those tired looking guys listing all the things they do everyday I had a feeling where it was going, and I wasn’t wrong. It was described as a “defeated man launching into an internal tirade against a castrating little wife” and ranked as one of the ”best” ads in unscientific polls.
I’ll stay away from the fact that Chrysler is basically owned by the government and that its only thanks to a gigantic bailout that this brand even still exists. I’ll also refrain from a discussion of how much this commercial cost to produce and air, again if not using government money then certainly thanks in part.
I would like to point out that in playing into these same sexist stereotypes of men always being nagged by the woman and never getting to do what they want because they appear to be dragged down by marriage and family, Chrysler proves that they didn’t learn anything from events over the last 2 years and they still believe perpetuating the good ol’boys network is the way to go.
I should mention that numerous studies show marriage is highly beneficial to men in terms of longevity, happiness, and overall health while having the opposite effect for women. Poor you commercial-guy, for having a job and all those responsibilities. I know plenty of people who would love to have a job and a family – some have neither.
At the risk of sounding hyper-sensitive, I was really offended by this spot.
Perhaps it was the fact that I’ve been spending a lot of time immersed in yoga teachings lately, learning that THINGS won’t make you happy and neither will negative perceptions about how much your work and life suck. If you don’t want to do those things, then don’t. If you don’t want to live that life or be in a partnership, then don’t. It’s as easy as that.
Perhaps it’s because marriage should be a relationship of equals and when it comes to major purchases there should be none of this “I’m going to do what I want” garbage. Maybe if more people had actual conversations about finance there would be less debt and less divorce.
Perhaps it’s because I have a better marriage than that, and I want my daughter to have better than some loser who thinks she is a burden to his imagined free-wheeling lifestyle.
Perhaps I just took offense to the amount of money spent on continued stereotyping rather than original thought. I’m starting to despise the advertising industry for their lack of creativity and perpetually enforcing and teaching notions that degrade both men and women. Then again, I am more astounded by the number of people who, lemming-like, think this qualifies as a great commercial without taking any time to really think about it.
There is a theory that every single thought and action affects the overall happiness of the world and that we are all affected by problems other people are having, no matter how irrelevant it may seem to you. Think of us as all standing in one big giant line, waiting for help from whatever God or god you pray to. By clearing out some of the negativity you hold on to, you make room for other people to work on clearing theirs and then you are in a position to help them do so. Further, if you can approach things positively you never get in the line in the first place.
If you watched the show Undercover Boss that was on right after the Super Bowl, maybe you were inspired by the people working hard clearing up trash and cleaning port-a-potties and never bitching about the work. Those are the people who are contributing to the happiness of the world and putting that theory into practice.
I recognize that there probably was very little thought put into this ad other than trying to make it funny. Certainly, suited execs sitting around the table while some eager creative director pitched it to them didn’t stop to pontificate whether some over-burdened guy would then go out and buy a car without discussing it in the grand scheme of family finances, thus leading to a marital rift.
I remember clearly the PR mantra that there is no bad publicity, (at least that’s what we would tell ourselves in the midst of a PR debacle) so any discussion over the ad is probably considered good for the brand.
I just think we can do better. Better than accept this as one of the best, most creative commercials out there. Better than to accept that any married, employed man is burdened by those things and that no matter what the person he’s talking to thinks he’s going to do what he feels like.
Come on Chrysler and Go-Daddy (not touching this one, BTW) and my fellow Ad/PR grads…YOU CAN DO BETTER.