• Mar 2, 2007
Poor Arnold Worldwide. They were mining advertising gold for Volkswagen in the late 1990s with clever spots and print ads. Apparently the relationship went cold, and VW moved on. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth in Boston, but now, Arnold has found themselves in the crosshairs of father's advocacy groups as they vie for Volvo's ad money.

Arnold is in contention to win the $150 million account for Volvo's advertising, but they're drawing fire for past work that's denigrated fatherhood. Men's-issue advocate Glenn Sacks is leading the charge, along with the groups HusbandsandFathers.org and Fathers and Families. Sacks cites Arnold's recent work for clients such as Fidelity and Verizon as evidence the advertising agency is "anti-father."

For its part, Arnold has been dragged in far enough for CEO Fran Kelly to rebut Sacks's claims and point out that the client has the final say on any creative before a campaign leaves the concept stage. It must be a little bewildering. One day, you're sitting there in the Pru, doing your agency thing, and the next thing you know, they're outside with a cauldron and pitchforks. While Sacks has a point that portrayals of fathers on television is a caricature at best, most of what's on the tube is hyperbole. The efforts of these advocacy groups may be better directed at the brands and companies that are approving the campaigns that offend. With a little sensitivity training, the end customers may start making more considered decisions. We won't be holding our breath, but hey, it could happen.

UPDATE - Volvo has provided us with a statement regarding its current ad agency search:

"Volvo has four outstanding agencies vying for its advertising account, and it is our intention to select the agency that we think has the best understanding of our brand, the best creative and that can best communicate our brand and product attributes to the public. In the end, Volvo will be the ultimate decider on the advertising that reaches the airwaves or the printed page."

[Source: Automotive News - sub req'd]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 12 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      "Anyone who takes societal roles and values from clever ad spots is an idiot."
      Amen!!
      And black people don't like fried chicken and watermelon. And all black men have a large.....
      And a small dog represents all Mexicans
      • 7 Years Ago
      There are some things both the supporters and opponents of the Sacks campaign should address.

      1. Would anyone deny that there are segments of the population that don't get bashed in the media like men do? This doesn't happen for certain groups because there is a mechanism to prevent it. Do the frequent negative portrayals of husbands, fathers and men in the media affect society or not? Consider the advancement of women and the coincidental absence of portrayals of incompetent women in the media. Is there a causal relationship? If so, why not stop portraying men this way? If not, why not start portraying women as incompetent idiots? The outcome boils down to values based decisions made by values driven human beings. Has the value of the husband and father been overlooked? Are men caught in a double bind, unable to object to a real problem without being demeaned? Is it politically incorrect to bash women or portray them as incompetent because such portrayals are in fact detrimental to women?

      2. (for advertising people) Should the agency be held accountable for aggressive male bashing, or is this entirely the responsibility of the marketer? When it comes to racist and anti-gay material, does the agency have an ethical responsibility? If so, by what mechanism does the agency influence the client in these matters?

      3. If encompassing male bashing themes like the one underlying Arnold's Fidelity campaign can be created at the marketer's request, why don't we ever see marketer originated female bashing themes? Is there a barrier to female bashing themes that exists outside both the marketer and ad agency organizations? If so, is this a barrier within the networks? Is it a barrier based on public opinion and values?

      Countless studies show that men and boys are in trouble in many ways. The fathersandhusbands.org web site includes links to highly credible work on this subject.

      More of Arnold's male bashing ads may also be viewed at http://www.fathersandhusbands.org .
      • 7 Years Ago
      #7 - Richard S.
      You have got to be kidding! The Fidelity commercial you harp on about 'bashing' fathers...please get a life if this is all you have to present as a case of bashing. It's only a playful way of painting a picture of things that would be incredibly easy. If you have never shared a moment like this with your son or daughter (all in the name of fun), then I feel very sorry for them and you as well.

      In this day and age it is refreshing to even see a father interacting with his kids. At least he wasn't picking up his child from day care (may be preschool) in a Volvo...not saying a word to his daughter while they drive...basically brushing aside any semblence of a converstaion. Yet you applaud that commercial for Volvo.

      BTW - I do work in the Ad industry and can sadly say with the utmost certainty that females/women/mothers are routinely bashed in ads, campaigns, etc. Any protrail of a woman as stupid, incompetent, or as an object constitutes true bashing. You arguement about racist or gay bashing holds no water either - when have fathers had to fight for basic civil liberty or equality?

      In truth - you and your group 'fathersandhusbands.org' are doing far more damage to fathers and husbands and men in general than any of these commercials could ever accomplish.

      Thanks - thanks a lot.

      GO ARNOLD!!! I hope they are able to rebound back to the days of glory.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Wow just wow. They are offended by an add showing a father actually interacting with his daughter in a one on one environment. I would assume the fact that they are in the add industry is irrelevant right?
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'm going to sue Guinness for portraying my Irish brethren as flat animated inventors with limited vocabulary.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Volvo's parent company Ford needs to stop undermining the strength of family by funding and promoting anti-family countercultural trends in it's own internal corperate culture (domestic partner benefits)which it can't even afford,and then taking that vitriol to the public at large in it's ads.
      • 7 Years Ago

      Timony: You have got to be kidding! The Fidelity commercial you harp on about 'bashing' fathers...please get a life if this is all you have to present as a case of bashing. It's only a playful way of painting a picture of things that would be incredibly easy. If you have never shared a moment like this with your son or daughter (all in the name of fun), then I feel very sorry for them and you as well.

      Richard S: No, we’re not kidding. The ad you refer to is one of many Arnold ads that depict husbands, fathers and men negatively. A total of six ad video examples are available at http://www.fathersandhusbands.org, http://www.fathersandhusbands.org/more_arnold_2.htm and http://www.glennsacks.com/volvo.php/ . Also included at the second link are images from Arnold ads depicting the heads of decapitated men.

      Timony: In this day and age it is refreshing to even see a father interacting with his kids. At least he wasn't picking up his child from day care (may be preschool) in a Volvo...not saying a word to his daughter while they drive...basically brushing aside any semblence of a converstaion. Yet you applaud that commercial for Volvo.

      Richard S: It’s not refreshing to see a father look like and idiot in an ad. It’s stale. In the Volvo ad the father was lovingly and attentively listening to his chatterbox daughter. That’s what’s so moving about it. I’m surprised you didn’t pick up on that, given that you work in the ad industry.

      Timony: BTW - I do work in the Ad industry and can sadly say with the utmost certainty that females/women/mothers are routinely bashed in ads, campaigns, etc. Any protrail of a woman as stupid, incompetent, or as an object constitutes true bashing. You arguement about racist or gay bashing holds no water either - when have fathers had to fight for basic civil liberty or equality?

      Richard S: Men are 8 – 12 times more likely than women to be bashed in ads. So you’re saying that portraying a woman as stupid is bashing and portraying a man as stupid isn’t? Even your allies aren’t going to back that remark. Millions of fathers fight for and lose their basic liberty and their involvement in their children’s lives in the family law system every year. This is the most serious civil rights issue of our time.

      Timony: In truth - you and your group 'fathersandhusbands.org' are doing far more damage to fathers and husbands and men in general than any of these commercials could ever accomplish.

      Richard S: Thousands of men and numerous men’s organizations don’t seem to think so.

      Timony:: GO ARNOLD!!! I hope they are able to rebound back to the days of glory.

      Richard S: We hope so too… without the male bashing.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Tmoney.I don't see anybody "sharing a moment of fun" in any of those clips from Arnold's Fidelity that Richard put up.As a matter of fact it shows the father and husband as unrealistically ignorant stupid antagonists that are abusing and pissing-off the little girl and woman.They're playing off anti male stereotypes that anger women who were abused by insensitive competitive father figures for one.I suppose the message that they're trying to subliminally convey is "Don't let men have any influence in your decision making" by appealing to feminists and women who have issues with men(for example)to get them to invest their money.Playing divide and conquer.BTW...You work in an ad agencey and you don't see that?
      • 7 Years Ago
      It's great to degrade men, don't do it to women!
      • 7 Years Ago
      There is no free world anymore... We can't open our moths because someone somewhere might be offended.

      All I can say to all those insane complainters is LIVE AND LET LIVE!!! Jesus...
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think it's because men ideally should represent leadership,virtue,authority,responsibility(when they are fully affirmed)and so on.When men relinquish their responsibility other elements attack and rush in to fill the vacumn.The counterculture perpetuated the narcissistic focus on self,and rejection of personal responsibility and respect for athority which one sees in today's TV ad pitches and the dissolution of the family stucture making children vunerable to all sorts pathologies.What you see now is a angry society in a state of arrested development.Naturally as these elements continue to gain in influence they will continue to rip away at icons that represent authority.Fathers.It's no suprise,having worked in the media myself, that this is what's at work in the creative media through dissallusioned dysfuctional people.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Hello Folks,

      I think this one statement from Tmoney says it all:

      "Any portrayal of a woman as stupid, incompetent, or as an object constitutes true bashing."

      OK, so using that logic, any portrayal of a man as stupid, incompetent, or as an object is not bashing at all.

      This is where the divide stands on this issue. For some, women are placed up on huge pedestals and are seen as angels who can do no wrong, and any type of negative portrayal of them is seen as bashing or unfair.

      And on the flip side, men themselves, as we all know, are pigs and idiots, so any type of negative portrayal of them cannot even be considered as bashing at all, it is simply telling the truth.

      If you are a man and happen to think this way please take a long look in the mirror and say to yourself out loud, "I am a pig and an idiot, I am incompetent and stupid, and women are vastly superior to me."

      Repeat this phrase over and over as often as you can. You won't believe how it will make you feel! In fact, I highly recommend you teach it to your children as well. Boys growing up with these important lessons are destined to become the powerless leaders of tomorrow.