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Klondike responds!

21 Jul
The ice-cream purveyors at Klondike/Unilever have responded to my complaint about their heinous heinous ads! Read below:
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Hello MS. SARAH _____,

Thank you for writing to us.

We do apologize for the experience you reported concerning Klondike Commercials.

Unilever Ice Cream markets its various brands in ways that are meant to entertain and engage our target audience. It was only intended to be humorous.

We certainly do not wish to offend anyone. You may be interested to know that all of our commercials and advertisements are pre-tested and various techniques are used to evaluate consumer reactions. Based on the results of our pre-testing procedures, the presentations are chosen for their majority appeal. Please let us assure you that your comments are extremely important to us in evaluating the success of our commercials and advertisements.

We will certainly forward your comments to the Marketing staff. Consumer comments are very important and evaluated on a regular basis.

Sincerely,

Your friends at Klondike

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More to come on this later. But feel free to poke some holes in their pre-testing procedures with their target audience. I see no way that these ads wouldn’t offend most demographics – even the darling demographic of straight white men dislike being portrayed as oafish.

Also: Note their use of an honorific!

Klondike bar ads are insulting, lazy

19 Jul

Have you guys seen this crap? Apparently I’ve been hiding under a rock, or at least eschewing prime-time network television, because Klondike’s effort to re-brand was going mostly under my radar until recently. Peep this horribleness:

Oh ha! I get it! Women are boring! Especially if you’re married to them! It’s like torture to listen to them! BAAHAHAHAHA! Hilarious. /sputter Oh yeah, and did we mention gay people are just … icky?

It’s a generally-accepted fact that the very last thing a straight man would ever want to be caught doing is something gay-seeming! Although it might be worse to actually care about the person you committed to spend your life with – hard to tell from these commercials.

Sarcasm aside, it is possible to be funny and sell ice cream without implying that women are insufferable bores and being gay is wrong (and straight men can never show affection). This is lazy work, plain and simple. The Via Agency, the ad agency that Klondike hired to put together their re-branding campaign, should be ashamed.

I complained, I hope you do too. Tell Klondike you won’t be buying their products because of these spots. If you’re an advertising nerd like me and you’re opposed to the ads on multiple levels (not only are they sexist and homophobic, they’re unimaginatively so), you can also scold The Via Agency. Humor ain’t hard, people. Wise up or lose business.

Do you think these ads are worse than normal, or just more blatant? And who decided that all mint flavors must forever come in fluorescent green anyway? Technicolor is for TVs, not food. Sheesh.

Wal-Mart Sex Discrimination: Let’s Sue the Patriarchy Too!

29 Mar

The Supreme Court heard opening arguments on behalf (and against) up to a million women today to determine the class action status of a Wal-Mart employment discrimination case. Those of us who’ve been following the case know what’s at stake if the court finds in favor of Wal-Mart: Not only would the corporate juggernaut responsible for filling your house with cheap plastic crap be more or less let off the hook for systematized sex discrimination, it would become harder for victims of job bias to secure class-action status, forcing low-wage workers to try their cases individually – virtually ensuring no future employee litigation case ever reaches viability, ever.

Dire, no? First, a brief history of the arguments for and against (more or less) from the magazine Corporate Counsel:

In certifying the class, the lower court said it found that there was significant evidence of centralized corporate-wide practices involving sexual stereotyping and excessive subjectivity in personnel decisions, as well as statistical evidence of gender disparities, and anecdotal evidence of gender bias. The court said it saw a “common pattern” of Wal-Mart’s discriminating against women workers nationwide.

In its brief to the Court, Wal-Mart argues that millions of discretionary personnel decisions on pay and promotions by thousands of individual managers defy any common pattern of treatment.

Let’s entertain Wal-Mart’s counterargument, shall we? From a purely feminist theory perspective, this argument actually holds some water. Why? Because those “millions of discretionary personnel decisions on pay and promotions by thousands of individual managers” were surely not solely influenced by the Long Arm of Corporate America (although surely that played a not-insignificant part), they were also influenced by the sexism that runs rampant through every fiber of society’s fabric.

So instead of suing Wal-Mart*, let’s certify every victim of the existing gender wage gap (read: all women worldwide) as members of a giant class action against the patriarchy. Since millions of discretionary personnel decisions are made every single day by managers who really ARE independent and not affiliated with Wal-Mart, but they’re made to consistently favor men in terms of power, prestige, and money, it’s clear that there is significant evidence of centralized worldwide practices involving sexual stereotyping, gender disparities, and gender bias.

Let’s sue the patriarchy! Who’s with me?

*Actually, not instead of, in addition to. Wal-Mart deserves to get sued, a lot. And so does every company that filed an Amicus Brief in support of Wal-Mart’s Evil Anti-Largesse.

Media: Find a new dead horse

18 Dec

If you hang out long enough with lefties, eventually someone will repeat an old saw as if it were a new blade: The Evils of Media Consolidation. This memetic concept has spawned a whole cottage industry of conspiracy theorist-journalists, infographics and vitriolic discussions, both off and online.

Self-styled investigative journalists write their pieces about media consolidation as if they were the first to discover – horror of horrors – that an entire industry is run by only a handful of corporate giants. They are, of course, telling us this tale for the VERY FIRST TIME, and we should all be shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you! not to mention appalled, that we’re being spoon-fed drivel that turns our minds into oatmeal by Evil Men in Grey Flannel Suits. They lurk in the shadows, forcing Sarah Palin news upon the unsuspecting populace, and using man-bites-dog-stories to cover up What’s Really Happening.

If only media and news were the ONLY industries run this way. You better believe that every industry that reaches any point of maturation will consolidate. Central management allows for reduced operating costs – and it’s join or die for most companies, media or not.

Let’s make a cool infographic like this that shows how
class mobility is a lie your parents told you.

So OK. We get it. The media is owned by a very small number of corporations, and the variation we think we’re getting with six gazilion channels and 7 trillion newspapers and 800 bajillion news blogs isn’t actually that varied. But it’s time to stop blaming corporate consolidation (at least, stop blaming it solely) for the  monochromatic messages. Culture itself, not just corporate ownership, plays a pretty big part in media influence.

Think about it: We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of information workers, here – all with their own backgrounds and worldviews – work for tiny tiny subsidiaries and focus on itsy bitsy niche topic areas and interest groups. Not every single reporter is hell-bent on serving his or her corporate overlords, peddling the Faux News message and pulling the wool over the eyes of Joe America. At least not any more than your average every day Joe is hell-bent on achieving those same goals by parroting Faux News talking points, or mindlessly perpetuating the patriarchy.

Herman and Chomsky’s propaganda model says that the internalization of the biases and values of corporate owners of the media leads to self-censorship by journalists, but that’s not the whole truth. It’s not just reporters and editors submitting to the wills of their corporate overlords – it’s all of us. We have all, to some degree, internalized the values of corporate owners – whether we work for the media or not. Journalists fall prey to systemic and cognitive biases no more and no less than your average accountant, pro athlete or sous chef.

Yes, corporate consolidation is a problem (as it is in many other industries). But so is our culture – the one that’s built several gajilion support structures to ensure the propagation of a ruling class and dominant culture. Media is just one column supporting a monolithic superstructure that includes patriarchy, capitalism, nuclear families, the legal system, class hierarchies, office jobs and deep-fried Oreos.

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