Friday, March 14, 2014

Or how to ride the Camry as if it were a woman.... (UPDATE)

Perhaps I am reading a lot into a silly ad, but it did bother me a lot the utilitarian way the Camry was compared as it if was a woman. Obviously the ad is directed to males, and it describes the car as "attractive, reliable, low maintenance - it's the ideal relationship".... Hmmmm, OK so your (female partner) should have those qualities too - no brains, no education, no self-esteem, no dignity, no pride, no initiative - oh... and to be vulgar here - you can get to "ride" it too.
If I were a female I would be seriously offended here.
Since I am a male, I am outraged on their behalf.

Please note I just got this reply from BUMC - the Lebanon Toyota dealer who ran the above ad:
We apologize if you were offended by this advertisement. This ad on the Camry is not meant to demean women or even compare a Camry to a woman. To call us or insinuate that we are sexist is completely false. On the contrary, women lead many of our departments and branches and play an integral role at BUMC. The purpose of the ad was to comment on the relationship between a driver and his/her vehicle and certain qualities that make the relationship ideal. In your blog post, you said that we were saying that a female partner should have "no brains, no education, no self-esteem, no dignity, no pride, no initiative - oh... and to be vulgar here - you can get to "ride" it too.” Well, we respectfully disagree and nowhere in our ad did we mention you can “ride” or suggest that women have "no brains.” We believe, as you said, that you might be reading into this ad too much; however, we welcome you to sit down with our marketing team so we can hear and understand your side better. Waiting for your call…
Best Regards,
BUMC

To which I replied (the whole exchange happened on Facebook):
Dear BUMC,
I have worked in advertising since 2001, obviously the ad has not been run through a focus group. Had it been so someone would have definitely picked up the sexist undertones. Be they intentional or not, is beside the point. And when a relationship is based on these three elements "attractive, reliable, low maintenance" it is bound to exclude other items (again, if you say so or not in the ad is besides the point). I have done ads for Toyota myself in very challenging market (Saudi Arabia where I worked for the Abdul Latif Jameel owned Drive Communication (now known as Drive Dentsu). Any mistake there would have been fatal - and yet the track record was spotless while still remaining creative and funny. Perhaps you did not intend the ad to infer what I understood, sadly it did.
Tarek Chemaly

To which came this answer from BUMC:
We understand your side of the situation and we thank you for sharing this concern. You mentioned that you used to work with Drive Denstu and that the ad was not run through a focus group. We’d like to let you know that we have a team that overviews the advertisement before it is released publicly and ensures that the advertisement is appropriate for the general public. In fact, the team that created this specific advertisement and overviewed the advertisement is Drive Dentsu Lebanon.
We have taken your concerns into account for future advertisements and wish you a nice day.
Best Regards,
BUMC
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