Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Controversial Ad

*See 2/8/07 update below*

Since I feel like death, this is going to be quick and totally not about me. Apparently there is some controversy brewing over yet another one of the Super Bowl ads. First it was the K-Fed one, then the Snickers one and now it is the GM one. Personally, I haven't seen any of the ads that ran during the Super Bowl because I didn't watch it, nor do I typically watch commercials even if I am in front of the tv.

I found out about the GM issue when I received an email today from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Apparently this commercial is insensitive to mental illness and makes light of suicide by having some robot jump off a bridge after being fired for making a mistake. I heard about the flak surrounding the other commercials by reading about them in the news online, but (and not surprisingly considering the avoidance of the topic of mental illness in the media except when it involves murder) I have yet to see any mention of the controversy regarding the GM one.

To read more about it, here is a link:

AFSP Issues Statement to General Motors Regarding Super Bowl Ad

Aol had a story about this on their main news page at around 4 pm C.S.T. They also had two polls. 1) Should GM pull the ad? and 2) Do you think the ad encourages people to consider suicide? When I took the polls, the responses so far were: 72% said no, GM should not pull the ad and 84% said the ad did not encourage suicide.

Here's the full story they had:

Suicide-Prevention Group Criticizes GM Ad
By Bruce Horovitz
USA Today

Yet another Super Bowl marketer is swimming in hot water.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has sent a letter to General Motors criticizing an ad that shows a perfectionist assembly line robot dreaming about jumping off a bridge after dropping a bolt. The group said the spot may encourage people to consider suicide as a solution to their problems. The group demanded that GM apologize, not air the spot again and remove it from its website.

"We wouldn't see this ad around cancer or heart disease," says Robert Gebbia, executive director. "Why's it OK to make fun of mental illness or depression?"

The letter comes two days after Masterfoods, maker of Snickers, said it would not reair its Super Bowl ad and took it off its website. Some gay activists had objected, saying the response of two men in it to their accidental kiss was homophobic.

Despite these objections, controversy over this year's ads pales compared with what happened after Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" during halftime of the 2004 Super Bowl. That sparked debate over broadcast decency that engulfed the ads and 540,000 consumer complaints to the Federal Communications Commission.

Several marketers took flak for the decency of their ads. Among them was Anheuser-Busch, the game's biggest advertiser. CEO August Busch IV apologized and said A-B would rethink the tone and content of its ads. Several companies' ads have not been seen again.

In the years since, Super Bowl marketers, who this year paid up to $2.6 million for 30 seconds of time, have faced closer examination of their ads. In the Internet age, Super Bowl ads are seen by millions more eyeballs, and criticism is instant.

"Super Bowl advertising is the ultimate stage," says Renee White Fraser, an advertising psychologist. "You get a higher level of scrutiny."

GM has "no plans" to drop the robot spot, spokeswoman Ryndee Carney says. The ad currently is scheduled to air next during the Feb. 25 Academy Awards broadcast on ABC, she says.

GM has received "more than a handful (of complaints) but not a tsunami," she says. She says GM "did not intend to offend anyone."

GM should drop the ad now, says former Energy secretary Donald Hodel, who also was Interior secretary in the Reagan administration. Hodel's teenage son committed suicide 23 years ago.

"They should never have run that commercial, and they shouldn't run it again," says Hodel, who says he and his wife were shocked when they saw it. "If I had a child who committed suicide some time after watching that ad, I'd seriously consider consulting a lawyer and suing GM."


Anonymous dawn said...

hmmmmm. yeah, I watched it I think it's a pretty insensitive add. i dont even get what it has to do with an ACTUAL car, you know like the specifics of a car, the reason why people buy them.

2:40 PM, February 08, 2007  
Blogger Dr. Deborah Serani said...

I thought it was a very bad idea for a commercial. Insensitive to say the least.

10:12 AM, February 09, 2007  

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