Can An Agency With A Name Like “Arnold” Be Anti-Male?

Adweek reports on a war of words between Arnold and Glenn Sacks, a blogger who thinks Arnold’s commercials denigrate men.

Glenn Sacks, on his Web site glennsacks.com, yesterday wrote, “We are asking Volvo not to award the contract to Arnold and instead award it to one of the other agencies, preferably Euro RSCG.”
He objects to several of the agency’s recent commercials, notably an execution for Fidelity Investments, in which a dad jumps up and down after besting his daughter in a game of Ping-Pong.
Sacks derided as harmful the portrayal of men in general, and fathers in particular, as “stupid” and “insensitive.”

While it’s true that making men look like doofuses is fairly standard in many ads, it’s a trend that comes after decades of commercials that made housewives look in desperate need of the newest household cleanser/detergent/TV dinner.
It’s interesting to see an agency formally respond to a blogger’s efforts–and Sacks is directly trying to influence Volvo’s decision making.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestLinkedInRedditStumbleUponEmailDiggShare
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.

  • Justin Bowen

    “it’s a trend that comes after decades of commercials that made housewives look in desperate need of the newest household cleanser/detergent/TV dinner.”
    So, in otherwords, because ad agencies portrayed women as nothing more than idiots who couldn’t do anything without certain products it is now okay to ridicule men? What kind of logic is that? I thought we were supposed to be a progressive society. I guess I was wrong. Heck, while we’re at it, why not take property from whites and give it to blacks and treat whites like blacks were treated decades ago? It would be fair, right?
    “It’s interesting to see an agency formally respond to a blogger’s efforts–and Sacks is directly trying to influence Volvo’s decision making.”
    I think it’s a great step forward. Corporations have seen what bloggers can do. Verizon, in particular, is probably going to be more wary of who they hire to create their ads and what they run. Also, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with bloggers or SIG’s trying to influence corporate decisions. Feminist and minority groups have been using their clout to sway corporate policies for decades. Is it wrong now for men’s groups to use their influence just because they’re men? Let’s not be total hypocrites here.

  • http://www.adcolumnist.com Danny G

    All good points, Justin. Just to clarify, I never said it was okay to ridicule men–I’m only pointing out that doing so is a pervasive advertising cliche nowadays–and there are tons of cliches–and it’s, for the most part, accepted in our society to do so.
    Let’s assume that all these commercials that make men look like doofuses are trying to be humorous. Whether they are humorous, that’s up to you. George Carlin has a theory about joking: “I believe you can joke about anything. It all depends on how you construct the joke. What the exaggeration is. What the exaggeration is. Because every joke needs one exaggeration. Every joke needs one thing to be way out of proportion.” He says it better than I ever could. The exaggeration in these spots is that the man is a doofus. Take that element out, and you have to find another way to be funny in the ad. Which isn’t easy, particularly in a character-heavy spot if the actors can’t do or say something funny for fear of offending someone. Most copywriters can’t find something that’s universally funny, in part because most people can’t agree on what’s funny, so they resort to cliches. And right now, as a society, it’s okay to make fun of men. Short, bald, pudgy, willing to forego sex for a beer–even more okay in today’s commercials.
    Sacks has every right to believe what he believes and try to influence corporations the way he’s doing it. That he’s getting a response means people are starting to take him seriously.
    I’ve been reading for years the opinions of so-called experts who say that marketers want or need to “engage” with their audience or participate in a “two-way conversation with consumers.” Now they’re getting it–big time. And marketers aren’t going to like everything they hear.

  • solorunner

    More power to him. I for one am sick and tired of my gender being made out to be bumbling idiots at every turn. Women have been sold cleansers etc but it is very few and far between where women are made to look stupid. In fact I dont think the industry has the cajones to do it en masse. They want to show how “cutting edge” and “gutsy” they are maybe they could produce an ad mocking a Muslim or Muhammed.

  • Chris

    Perhaps Arnold is getting his ideas from his children’s view of the world around them.
    Who’s next in our politically correct new world,
    the very children we are trying to make into lifelong customers for our clients.

  • http://www.anaheimseofirm.com anaheim seo firm

    thanks for sharing the vital information. for more seo related information go through anaheim seo firm