This story is a part of our Mad Men Takeover. Season four of the series premieres on AMC this Sunday, July 25.
There’s no denying that the mad men of Madison Avenue were brilliant at their craft. But there’s also no denying that, as represented on the show, many creatives of that era possessed a particularly virulent brand of misogyny and cultural insensitivity. (Remember that time Roger Sterling performed in blackface?) Unfortunately, it looks like some companies still carry those less-flattering elements in their work in 2010. Here’s a roundup of products and ad campaigns that hearken back to the Mad Men era in the worst way.
Danica Patrick for GoDaddy.com
Instead of heralding NASCAR driver Danica Patrick for being an iconic female figure in her sport, GoDaddy focuses their ads on her female figure. And consumers have taken notice: Following the last Super Bowl, the web hosting company’s ads were ranked at the bottom of USA Today’s AdMeter.
In a recent ad for Miller Lite, the typical beer commercial dude-bro explains that he does not care about how his light beer tastes, and the bartender advises him to “lose the skirt.” Because women should stick to alcohol they understand. You know, like vodka cranberries! Sigh…
FloTV’s “Spine Removal”
Jim Nantz guest stars in this 2010 Super Bowl ad for portable television system FloTV, in which the women are nagging, life-sucking succubi, men have to fight for their male pride and no one, regardless of gender, comes out looking particularly flattering.
The Dodge Charger ad that aired during the 2010 Super Bowl followed in the same pattern as FloTV and several other ad campaigns. Dudes are emasculated and crushed under the (presumably high) heel of modern living and must struggle to retain their manly manliness (which can only be fully achieved by BUYING MORE STUFF) and women are demanding harpies. It’s the sort of gendered portrayal one can imagine coming out of a Sterling Cooper boardroom after too many execs started complaining about “the wife.” The ad did, however, also inspire this rebuttal).
Taco Bell’s Fiesta Platter
Because nothing says “Mexico” like mariachis and inauthentic fast-food fare. Right? Right?
Hasbro’s Rose Petal Cottage
We could probably include any toy company that employs horribly gendered product development and marketing (and many do), but Hasbro’s Cult of Domesticity-touting products like the Rose Petal Cottage feel like revamped Suzy Homemaker toys from the ‘60s, but with more of the technology of today. No honey, you don’t want the totally awesome science lab with the make-your-own volcano. That’s for boys. Here, this has your own pretend washer-dryer! Ugh.
Svedka’s “Bot Or Not?”
The “fembot” meme in advertising is interesting because it combines two major fixations of 1950s and early 60s culture: science fiction and The Future (Buck Rogers, the advent of the Space Race and all the programming it inspired, etc.) and the notion of women as domestic and subservient.
In this commercial, which aired during Super Bowl XLII, a panda couple sells bamboo—of course—and talks like Kahn from King of the Hill in one of the most overdrawn and offensive portrayals of Asian stereotypes since Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.