Dodge – Gay Bashing??

I’ve talked a lot about the importance of authenticity.  Companies today must walk the walk.  Consumers – both advocates and protagonists – are watching what you do as well as what you say.  You want to create a brand?  Everything you say and do must reinforce that brand image.

So – along comes Dodge’s new commercial for their Caliber model now known as "silly little fairy" though officially known as "Too Tough".   Many are crying out that the commercial is homophobic at best and pure gay bashing at worst.   Bob Garfield lends his thoughts on the matter in this AD Age article.

Faggot. Queer. Fairy. These are synonyms, epithets one and all disparaging gays — or, more often, heterosexual men deemed insufficiently masculine. Let’s call that Fact No. 1.

Macho brand
Fact No. 2: Dodge is marketing its new Caliber subcompact as a tough little car, as opposed to sissy little Civics, Corollas and the like. This comports with Dodge’s long-cultivated macho image, as exemplified by the grunting, Aerosmith heavy-metal music tag punctuating every spot.

Fact No. 3 is that one of the introductory commercials from BBDO, Detroit, features the juxtaposition of a burly tough guy and his Doberman with a sweater-draped girlie man who is walking four little lap dogs. Fact No. 4 is that the only line of dialogue in the commercial is the burly dude exclaiming, "Silly little fairy!"

And Fact No. 5 — the genuinely astonishing fact — is that Daimler Chrysler asserts that none of the above is meant to invoke a sexual insult.

Now – do I like the commercial?  No.  I don’t find it funny or even remotely amusing.   But does it convey the message Dodge wants to convey?   I think it does.   If you’re a manly man, full of testosterone, wanting to drive something ugly and solid as opposed to cute and effeminate, if you want to feel secure in that manhood and convey to the rest of the world what a manly man you are – this car is for you.   No one will ever mistake you for a sissy or a fairy queer guy. 

You could take it even further – why don’t you add those fake truck balls you see hanging from the back of trucks just to prove your point.   “I have balls and everything I do is going to prove to you I have balls even if I have to hang fake ones from the back of my car.”

My problem with Dodge is – they are denying that this is the message. 

When accused of gay bashing and the double entendre of fairy – they are apparently claiming they didn’t realize the double entendre of “fairy” and intended no gay references whatsoever.

Bob Garfield describes Dodge’s reaction to the criticism.

"Was it intentional? Absolutely not," says spokeswoman Suraya Bliss, whose voice quavered as she spoke, perhaps because she was choking on the corporate line. "It’s not the kind of company we are."

Oh puhleeeeeeze.     I have officially lost any and all respect for Dodge.   Not so much for the ad, but for their response to it.   I know in this politically correct day they couldn’t come right out and say, “Yeah – fairy, double entendre, feminine guy in sweater with faggy dogs – you figure out what we’re trying to say.”      But denying any intentional slam?   “ohmigosh, people mistook “fairy” in direct conjunction with a burly man turned into an effeminate man in a sweater with poofy little dogs as a reference to gays?   How could they possibly have come to that conclusion.  We certainly didn’t”.

And Enron’s Kenneth Lay and Worldcom’s Bernie Ebbers and Tycos’ Dennis kozlowski all had no idea of the fraud going on at their companies.  Nothing reeks of hypocrisy like a company head or spokesperson blatantly lying to your face.   The public is smarter than that.   

If you’re going to take a tough/controversial stance – back it up.  Don’t  run cowardly away when you’re called on something.  Instead of proving they have balls, Dodge did just the opposite. 

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24 Responses to Dodge – Gay Bashing??

  1. middle-aged sensitive white guy says:

    I’ve seen infinitely worse gay-bashing from the “gays” on Will and Grace. Why is it only incorrect if it is perceived as bashing from straight people? Can we find out if any gays worked on the ad?
    I think the message was that the macho idiot got what he had coming. Let him walk a mile in those shoes. What’s wrong with that? The car was impervious to the wand but the jerk wasn’t.

  2. Mary Schmidt says:

    It is pretty silly isn’t it? Not so much that Dodge did a dumb commercial but they actually have the audacity to play dumb.
    Me – whenever I see one of those gigantic “man-mobiles” Dodge trucks – all I can think is “Geez. And, just how tiny is your – ahem – stick shift?”
    As Michele says, You go girl!

  3. Lest we forget, any publicity is good publicity.
    You can bet your bottom dollar that Dodge is banking on those back home boys hearing all about this er uh mistake.
    Can’t you just see “them boys” (and religious zealots too) hollerin from their lazy boys, “Martha get out the typewriter cause I gotta send a letter and ah wan you to do it up fer me real nice like to send to them thar nice folks at Dodge”.
    I can see it now, praise the lord jesus fan mail , bagloads of it. Thank god they can’t type.

  4. Holly Buchanan on Dodge

    Just in case you are under the misguided assumption that women are passive, let-it-go-it-doesn’t-affect-me namby pambys, check this out — Holly opens up a major can of whup ass on Dodge this morning. Not so much for their latest

  5. Jen Harris says:

    I honestly didn’t even pick up on the double “fairy” meaning. I really don’t even get the whole commercial & how it relates to Dodge…my 2 1/2 year old loves it because of the fairy…the one with wings. People need to step back & go after a real cause…turn off your tv and go recycle.

  6. J cowles says:

    This blog endorses the stereotype you idiots. I mean, be as gay you want but don’t be so stupid.
    And by the way, the tough guy is calling the little fairy a ‘little fairy’. THEN the ‘little fairy’ (unsure as to her sexual orientation) zaps the tough guy.
    Obviously Dodge is saying that gay people are supernatural little flying bugs who can cast spells at straight people (See, witchcraft = gay! I knew it!!) Of course the the bad guy is straight because he looks stupid and walks a big dog. C’mon, Dodge! Everyone knows that means you’re straight!
    Pullllleeeze pull your head out! You’re whup ass is assinine.
    J

  7. I. Gottalife says:

    Which came first? The Fairy or the fairy?
    It appears that most of you have no sense of advertising, mythology or know the difference between “tough” and “preppy” neither of which have anything to do with being gay (in case you couldn’t figure it out).
    If the first thing you see or hear is the word fairy and then suddenly get completely offended, it’s quite obvious that you are very oversensitive of your sexual preference or the sexual preference of someone you know and you obviously have no idea what that fluttering thing was that was changing things (except for the car).
    It’s just about time you step outside your world of “what can I complain about now?” and start exploring what other aspects of life there really are. You’re honestly missing a lot of lifes experiences while you’re stuck in your mire of “Oh look! Something else that can be misinterpreted!”
    It’s just a fairy for crying out loud!
    I’ve watch that commercial over and over and found NOTHING gay or ‘gay-bashing’ oriented. If you read something extra into that commercial then you are obviously just looking for something to whine about and you may want to resconsider your stance of your own sexual preference.

  8. Deborah says:

    I do not necessarily agree with the way Doge went about it, but it appears to me:
    they are attempting to introduce a new segmentation based on perception
    this segmentation involves a car type with perceived feminine characteristics. This type of stationwagon.
    classic marketing would say send the desired audience queues through the marketing and product that it is “ok” to purchase the product. This may be why the styling, engine, badging and marketing are designed to appeal to the “manwagon” segment.
    so, if this is the case, Dodge’s focus is on perceived uncertainity in the target segment and is providing a clear go buy me message. Women are probably not the desired audience here and will not be.

  9. I. Gottalife says:

    Woo Hoo! Someone got it! Congrats Deborah!
    It’s all about marketing. After all, why would someone advertise something they want to sell?
    If you want to sell something, you build the advertisement specifically to get attention from a certain genre and even gender.
    Just because they said the “f” word (fairy) doesn’t mean they are gay bashing or trying to secretly send some hate message, it’s just part of the advertisement.
    Anyway, glad to see that someone still has a head on their shoulders. Some faith (how ever small) in people has been restored.

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  12. Some fast food companies have taken a similar approach with their “manly burgers” ads, although those have been more tongue-in-cheek. This campaign is definitely misguided as it doesn’t really appeal to any demographic–sexual preference or gender aside. It’s offputting. I hated the ad from the first time I saw it, but I never got the impression that it was gay-bashing or addressing homosexuality in the least. That seems a bit out of left field to me.

  13. Scottie says:

    Bashing? You are foolish to believe that there is a double meaning. The quote is “Anything but cute” The fairy is turning everything cute.. The train. The building into a castle.. The dogs are supose to be cute. DUH from ugly to cute…

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  23. Amanda says:

    I think the little fairy is cute!

  24. Kisa says:

    We’re in/around downtown Santa Cruz. When you are reesevrd for an event, we tell you exactly how to find us. No need to drive around town with your nose out the window for the great cooking smells.

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