Friday, April 07, 2006

Fairy Bad Ad

We want to weigh in on the "too tough" Dodge Caliber ad. (Jalopnik's got a post. Leftlane News focuses on Chrysler's response.

The ad is bad on so many levels.

The controversy, such as it is, is entirely predictable and avoidable. Whether or not outrage is justified, Dodge's surprise that anyone would be offended is either disingenuous or willfully naive. We do not live in a homophobia-free country. There are plenty of ranches on both sides of Brokeback Mountain.

The problem is structural. The ad sets up the dichotomy between tough and not tough (not well or not consistently, see below). There are not too many ways to show the opposite of a tough guy without making the guy effete. And, when your punchline is an effete man, your predictably going to tap into associations with homosexuality, on both sides.

There are two other problems. First, the tough guy/effete guy is not consistent with the previous pre-fairy dust/post-fairy dust pairs: skyscraper/gingerbread house, real train/toy train. If the conceit is the difference between real-world tough and storybook cute, why not turn the tough guy into a cartoon character? It's inconsistent (and unnecessary) to go the effete route.

Second, it's not a stretch to interpret the fairy's shot at the guy as I'll-show-you-who's-a-stupid-fairy. A guy gets a turned up collar and four lap dogs moments after saying the word fairy and people think it's gay bashing? Quel surprise.

Is this reading too much into a thirty-second ad? Nope. Think of the time and money Dodge and its agency spend developing and producing the ad. How many script drafts? How many takes? How much post-production? Think how many times how many people saw this ad it aired. Once it was aired, most people figured out the ad's problems on the first viewing.

There's no excuse for crap like this.