A Classy Response from Ad Age Editor in Wake of Harsh Column

Los Angeles, CA–Background: A couple weeks ago, I criticized Pepsi for its Super Bowl ad ‘Magnetic Attraction.’ In the commercial, Justin Timberlake gets beat up and is in severe pain. In general our protests have been against ads which depict men and particularly fathers as lazy, dumb, or irresponsible. The Pepsi ad was an attempt at slapstick humor and not as offensive, but I thought it was still over the line. I suggested that readers who agreed with me contact Pepsi and BBDO, the agency which created the ad. Yesterday,
Jonah Bloom, an editor and columnist at Advertising Age, one of the leading advertising trade publications, fired back at men’s and fathers’ activists over our 2007 protest against the advertising agency Arnold Worldwide, the Pepsi issue, and others. In When It Comes to Whining About Ads, Father Knows Best (2/18/08), Bloom depicts advertising guru Richard Smaglick of, who has worked with me on these issues and campaigns, as “unhinged” and an “extremist.” To read my response to Bloom, see my morning blog post Ad Industry Hits Back at Fatherhood Activists. Smaglick and Bloom had a long talk this morning, and afterwards Bloom sent us a response to my critique of his column. While I don’t think Bloom is going to be signing up with us anytime soon, I thought he showed some class both during the conversation and in the letter. In response, I wrote, “I’m impressed with your response and your willingness to rethink the issue. If you don’t mind, I think it would be nice if I could post [the relevant section] so my readers can see it.” Bloom gave me approval. He wrote: “Nice dissection of my column. I would say you are wasted in finding fault in slapstick commercials – but I’ve just promised Richard I’m going to try to take the issue more seriously and at least try to see how they might be contributing to socio-economic issues such as fatherlessness and inter-partner violence against men. I find the whole concept a stretch, but I really am going to try looking at it from a different point of view. “I suspect many of us spend too much time with people who reinforce our narrow points of view, and I’m sure I’m no different–I’ll try to put myself in your shoes. In return I asked Richard to consider whether just maybe there’s a nugget of truth in my point of view that your approach–NOT the issues you say you want to tackle–is misguided and not the best use of your time.”

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