A Perspective From Where “Smoking A Fag” Is Perfectly OK

Lost amid the big Snickers ad controversy was the fact that Americans complained about an ad being aired in Britain.
Here’s a perspective from Britain, written by Paul Shearer, a founding partner of Arnold London:

What’s so amazing is that the ads were pulled because of complaints from the US. We Brits are supposed to be the upholders of all things Godlike.
Is it the Obama influence? Or has Mr Bush got too much time on his hands and is watching daytime Freeview?
Come on! We don’t complain that the World Series does not include anyone outside the US. Or that you never let Elvis come here to visit us.
The serious point I see in all this is that once again advertising is being left behind by the real world and by that I mean TV programme-makers. If we lose our edge, fast forwarding through the ads will be the norm.
Let’s look at the facts here. Kissing men have been in ads for years and over the top macho is come and gone. Levis had men stripping in public 30 years ago. Banning these ads defies common sense.
By not treating overreaction with a swift boot up the backside we are putting TV commercials even further behind the programme-makers.
Programme-makers would scoff at the ridiculous restrictions we ad people bring upon ourselves.
Companies like HBO stand up to these pipe and slipper brigades and produce visual feasts of relevance. Advertising needs to do the same. Well at least make an attempt.

In the age of Internet, we all get to see what type of advertising is being produced, no matter where it’s from. Inevitably, there’ll be a clash of cultures.
And just in case you don’t understand the headline of this post.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for TalentZoo.com. Dan published the best of his TalentZoo.com columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. The essential issue with this argument, at least in America, is that while we ad folks love to talk about how we create entertainment and culture, a good section of the public just doesn’t see it that way. For the most part, advertising and art are simply not equated in consumers’ minds.I believe it has to do with the issue of choice. In the end, people can choose to watch HBO or not. People don’t feel the same immunity with ads (even today). Throw in the built-in sentiment that we are mind-warping liars hellbent on destroying society with needless consumerism (have you seen WALL-E?) and, well, you get letters. Lots of letters. Particularly if any sensitive type perceives corporate sponsorship of any kind of “hate.” Now, for some brands controversy is welcome. For most it is not. We may not like it, but it is certainly the way of things. Still, I say we keep tilting at the windmills. But when we get knocked on our butts, whether we REALLY deserved or not, we shouldn’t whine. This is reality not portfolio school.

  2. I think this Shearer guy is wrong. The Heinz ad was pulled because of complaints in the UK, not the US. Plus, his basic premise is bullshit. The UK has hardly been silent overall, consistently complaining about stuff abroad, including US actions and policies. He needs to get up to speed and realize that digital technology is blurring the lines and borders. Human rights issues are exactly that—human rights. They’re not defined by county or country lines.