Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Time to ante up

As you recall I am in the midst of expressing my displeasure over the ads that were shown during the Super Bowl this past weekend. Of particular interests was the "Love Hurts" Pepsi Max ad. Well I went to the main site for the contest to discover that the other four ads weren't that much better. So I decided to say something about it.

The only method of contact I found was the Contact Us section of the main Pepsi website. Here's a copy of what I plan to submit.

To whom it may concern,

Recently I saw one of the ads that was a part of your recent "Crash The Super Bowl" contest for fan made ads for your Pepsi Max product. While I understand that you are trying to foster a relationship with your consumers I have to say that the 5 ads that were selected at finalists (and the 3 that were chosen as winners) seem to invoke rather persistent and negative stereotypes. Of the five finalist ads (going from left to right on the finalist section of the http://www.crashthesuperbowl.com/ site):

1. Invoked the notion that women are obsessed about their weight to the point that they can't even interpret the mere mention of a lack of calories in a drink.

2. Invoked the idea that hitting men in the testicles is funny rather than a problem.

3. Invoked the notions that women are only plotting to get into men's wallets while men are only plotting to have sex with women then playing up how important Pepsi Max is by implying that discussion over it is more important that those notions.

4. Invoked the notion that female against male violence is not only a problem but is actually okay. This seems to be backed by the idea that said man somehow deserved it.

5. Invoked the notion that women are so obsessed with their weight that they go into fits of disbelief over a product that can taste good and have no calories.

And by no means are these the only problems with these ads (especially the fourth one). I understand that while Pepsi's marketing division did not create these ads I think Pepsi still holds some accountability due to the fact the ads were allowed to be featured in the contest. Simply put the content of these ads and the notions they invoke in order to sell Pepsi Max bothers and I'm willing to bet I'm not the only one. I do sincerely hope that such this line of advertising is not indicative of what the Pepsi Corporation thinks of the people its wishes to purchase its products.

Thank You for Your Time,

I think what matters here is to get the point across while trying to be civil. I'm going to take a day or so to think about this before actually sending it.

By chance do you have any suggestions on how to reword my letter or perhaps even another method of contacting Pepsi with my concerns?

3 comments:

Jut Gory said...

Danny,
I think this is a good letter. However, not having gone to the site, I do not know which ads are which (of course, Pepsi would know). My suggestion would be to refer to the ad by name (usually they have names, I think).

One thought though, if I may digress. As far as the groin shot goes (#2), I know that a lot of guys object to this as violence against men. It is, and there is some hypocrisy in the way people think it is something that is okay to joke about.

On the other hand, I do find it funny at times. There is that Simpsons episode where there is a movie contest and Homer Simpson's evaluation comes down to "Football in the Groin has a football in the groin." I still giggle when Moleman gets hit by the football (and it's a freaking cartoon!). Can we agree that it is funny, even if it is wrong?

Before you answer, I would observe that it is funny in the same way that The Three Stooges are funny. Granted, The three Stooges is over the top, but the violence can be amusing in certain contexts.

I would also observe that it is funny because we know how it feels. It is incredibly painful and part of what is funny about it is that we can sympathize with the pain (much in the same way we might laugh at America's Funniest Videos, which shows some very painful looking accidents (and usually contains a "nut shot" or two)).

I will grant you that it is often gratuitous, overused, and not funny. And, if you want to look at it through a feminist perspective, it should be condemned not only as violence against men, but as sexual violence against men. Then, of course, there is the obvious way that the core feature of masculinity, the phallus, when injured, causes the masculine male to be transformed into a weak, helpless feminine figure. Or, maybe we just don't want to go there.

-Jut

Danny said...

Thanks for the feedback Jut.

There is that Simpsons episode where there is a movie contest and Homer Simpson's evaluation comes down to "Football in the Groin has a football in the groin." I still giggle when Moleman gets hit by the football (and it's a freaking cartoon!). Can we agree that it is funny, even if it is wrong?
Speaking of that episode after laughing at it back in the day I'm not conflicted over it. I like the fact that it ultimately didn't win. However it did not sit well with me that Homer was treated like his opinion was wrong (with Marge even saying at the end of the episode, "I'm so glad you chose the right video." after he changed his mind.

Before you answer, I would observe that it is funny in the same way that The Three Stooges are funny. Granted, The three Stooges is over the top, but the violence can be amusing in certain contexts.
I'll you that violence does come off as funny to me. However when watching the Three Stooges I really don't get the vibe that they are trying to say that violence against men is funny and therefore okay (and oddly enough when's the last time you've seen it played on modern TV?).

I will grant you that it is often gratuitous, overused, and not funny. And, if you want to look at it through a feminist perspective, it should be condemned not only as violence against men, but as sexual violence against men.
No offense but if I were to use a feminist perspective I could very well end up thinking that its only a problem because such content is made by men and then proceed to absolve any and all women who make and support that content. But thanks for assuring me that that's not the only feminist perspective to use.

Then, of course, there is the obvious way that the core feature of masculinity, the phallus, when injured, causes the masculine male to be transformed into a weak, helpless feminine figure. Or, maybe we just don't want to go there.
While I can't speak for all men it actually doesn't play out like that. To me its a matter of being injured in one of the defining places of my masculinity. These I'll be the first to agree that testicles isn't representative of some single idea man/masculinity, that's just how its works for me and mine. And honestly I think some people really try a bit too hard to link injured masculinity to femininity. To put it bluntly its not always about women. More of, "I am a man and this injury has tarnished my manhood." than "I am a man and this injury to my manhood makes me a woman."

And one other thing. Oddly enough the phallus itself is much more resistant to pain than the testicles. I can squeeze my penis with all my might and it won't hurt. On the other hand if I sit down wrong and my testicles simply get caught between my thighs it really f'n hurts. But I'm sure you are speaking more in a symbolic sense than a literal since.

Danny said...

I finally got around to submitting an actual letter. Looked at the site again and the order of the ads seems to switch at random but thankfully the ads are named so I was able to name them when pointing out my complaints. I wonder what sort of response I get.

Recently I saw one of the ads that was a part of your recent "Crash The Super Bowl" contest for fan made ads for your Pepsi Max product. While I understand that you are trying to foster a relationship with your consumers I have to say that the 5 ads that were selected at finalists (and the 3 that were chosen as winners) seem to invoke rather persistent and negative stereotypes. Of the five finalist ads (on the finalist section of the http://www.crashthesuperbowl.com/ site):

1. (Zero Calories? PSSHH) - Invoked the notion that women are obsessed about their weight to the point that they can't even interpret the mere mention of a lack of calories in a drink.

2. (Torpedo Cooler) - Invoked the idea that hitting men in the testicles is funny rather than a problem.

3. (First Date) - Invoked the notions that women are only plotting to get into men's wallets while men are only plotting to have sex with women then playing up how important Pepsi Max is by implying that discussion over it is more important that those notions.

4. (Love Hurts) - Invoked the notion that female against male violence is not only a problem but is actually okay. This seems to be backed by the idea that said man somehow deserved it.

5. (Elevator Girl) - Invoked the notion that women are so obsessed with their weight that they go into fits of disbelief over a product that can taste good and have no calories.

And by no means are these the only problems with these ads (especially the fourth one). I understand that while Pepsi's marketing division did not create these ads I think Pepsi still holds some accountability due to the fact the ads were allowed to be featured in the contest. Simply put the content of these ads and the notions they invoke in order to sell Pepsi Max bothers me and I'm willing to bet I'm not the only one. I do sincerely hope that such this line of advertising is not indicative of what the Pepsi Corporation thinks of the people its wishes to purchase its products.

Thank You for Your Time,
Daniel Gibbs

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