Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Marketing Ethics and Masculine Images

Recently, Chevrolet ran a series of ads for the Silverado truck that criticized the masculinity of Ford and Dodge pickup truck owners. Both of the advertisements focus on prominent, advertised features of the competitors trucks. For the Ford F150, the ad finds Chevy spokesman Howie Long watching a man clumsily dismounting the bed of his truck despite using the additional step that Ford added to the truck.

The ad creates a simple message: Chevy is the brand of pickup for strong men who don’t need the extra frills. (Incidentally, I’ve loaded plenty of stuff into the back of a pickup and - as a person who only towers over young kids - I think a “Man Step” would be a pretty good thing to have.) The visual comparison of the out of shape, middle aged man to the Pro Football Hall of Famer more than gets the point across. I really don’t see a problem with this criticism from an ethical standpoint in that strength is technically a tangible measurement.

However, after speaking with a wide range of people about the ad mocking owners of the Dodge Ram, I’ve found a range of reactions but a sense of uneasiness behind the underlying message.

The makes the argument that if a person is not masculine than he is weak, but this second ad says that if a person is not masculine than he is feminine. (I say that because the manicure implies that women are more likely to get a manicure than a man).

Does this type of comparison cross the ethical line? Is it truly different from the first ad?

Please feel free to post a comment and share your thoughts on the subject.

1 comment:

andrew said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.