200. Maybe My Least Favorite Ad. Ever.
Sep 16, 2008 at 11:00AM

So, I’m watching a little football while working a long weekend recently and on comes this spot.  Two sweet young girls begin to talk to their dad in what appears at first to be a fairly standard, somewhat boring, but nice Hallmark-moment type of spot. Soft music sets the mood. “Dad... It’s time.” And we cut to the normal looking dad as he reads the paper while the girls continue, “You’d be a really nice catch for somebody.”  And then they present a box of Just For Men. (See the ad at the bottom of this post.)

Gross. Seriously, this is gross. Somebody needs to stop this kind of garbage.

The spot continues with the dad taking a cellphone pic of his newly found shallow girlfriend and sending it to his girls. “See girls, making yourself look like what the media projects as the ideal appearance can help you score dates! Remember this when you are of dating age.”

Sometimes advertising can be a lot of fun and a rewarding career. Then you see something like this and it makes you feel dirty just being associated with the industry. Let me count the number of ways in which this spot is gross. Keeping in mind that I’m getting closer to the demographic they are targeting every day and have more than a few grays showing up.

  1. The girls – who look to be about seven and ten respectively – seem to have already been socialized into thinking that gray hair (and no doubt other visible signs of aging) make you old and ‘less of a catch' and less of a person.
  2. They are insinuating that their dad, probably a decent guy, isn’t a catch with gray hair. Is it normal to present children in such a disgusting, materialistic and manipulative way?
  3. The way the spot should have ended: The dad takes the girls aside and explains how the exterior of a human being isn’t the important thing as it’s the character of a person that counts. And any date worth being a ‘potential mom’ would not only understand that, but be looking for a person of substance herself.
  4. As a guy, this does not make me like this company at all. It is derogatory, condescending, manipulative and disgustingly shallow.
  5. The ad has no other redeeming qualities to make up for this - “You’re getting Old!” approach. Maybe if it were funny, actually kind of sweet instead of sick, informative or otherwise interesting we could forgive the grossness. But it doesn’t. It’s just another twisted view of the world from a company that – if it were a person – you would never want to talk to, let along invite into your home.
  6. And a tiny art direction complaint - one of the girls' socks at the end of the spot are disgustingly dirty. Ha.
I don’t have a problem with the product in general. I don’t have a problem with people who use it, maybe I will choose to someday. I just have a problem with this disgusting, foul brand talking to me like I’m less than a person if I don’t use their product. If you buy into ‘branding’ than you should try to act like a brand that respects people. There are other ways to go about it. For instance, “It’s sad that other people will look at your gray hair and make judgments about your age, virility, energy and competence. But they will. You can do something about it, if you so choose...” Not a great ad, but a much better strategy starting point. Of course, woman have been dealing with this type of stuff for a long time, but men are becoming an increasingly popular target for insecurity based advertising lately.

Can you tell I hate this kind of stuff? It is advertising at its worst. So who is responsible for this? Ultimately the client - White Plains, N.Y.-based Combe. But the ad agency bears a lot of the responsibility too. (Though I can't find out who that is. La Agencia used to do their Hispanic marketing... but no dice on the 'regular' stuff.) This spot almost makes me miss their sports legend ads featuring a creepy Keith Hernendez and Walt Frazier trying to attract more ladies. (And that's saying something.) And Yes, this entry breaks the record for the number of times I have used the word disgusting.

Article originally appeared on Graphicology (http://www.graphicology.com/).
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