Say what you will about Bob Garfield, but his column does get the attention of the ad industry. And this week’s column, An Open Letter to John Wren, will certainly get attention, as he addresses the CEO of Omnicom about some not-so-subtle gay bashing in this Snickers spot done by AMV BBDO in London.
The entire letter is worth reading, but here is the last part, which gets at the ultimate point:
Since you are the executive ultimately in charge of both TBWA and BBDO, I ask you: How could you be so insensitive, how could you be so shallow, and how could you be so mean?
This letter is to you, but it is equally to your colleagues throughout the industry. Are you so bereft, of ideas and simple humanity, that you must be reduced to stereotyping and bullying? That you must identify an “other” to ridicule, or worse? That you must build a brand on the backs of people who have harmed no one save for challenging a high-school locker-room standard of masculinity?
Stop the dehumanizing stereotypes. Stop the jokey violence. There is no place in advertising for cruelty. Pull the campaign. Do it now. Then tell your agencies how to behave. Or else.
The response and debate will certainly be interesting. Obviously, the issue of inappropriate or insensitive advertising is one that affects everyone in the industry. And does John Wren, a finance guy-turned-holding company honcho, care one whit about the ads his agencies produce?