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.
"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."
Preposterous corporate line
But, of course, the corporate line is preposterous. Much more likely is that someone at BBDO realized they could call people fairies if their commercial depicted an actual fairy. Get it! How subversive! A flitty little fairy! We can imagine the hilarity in the cubicle as they contrived a way to set up the "Not for sissies" selling proposition based on an innocent magical fantasy. The result-mean-spirited but undeniably crafty -- is as follows:
A winged little pixie, fluttering along an urban skyline, waves her magic wand and -- in a puff of magical dust -- turns a skyscraper into a gingerbread house. Next she turns a commuter train into a colorful toy choo-choo. Then she spies a new Dodge Caliber, which she waves at with her wand.
But nothing happens. Three times she tries her magic, to no avail. For all her efforts, the shiny black Caliber remains a tough, rugged subcompact. Meanwhile, her momentum sends her flying-splat! -- into a building.
'Silly little fairy'
A passing brute (he's also all in macho black as he walks his Doberman) is very amused by this scene. "Silly little fairy," he laughs.
So she wands him -- turning his Neanderthal getup into a wimpy tennis outfit, and his Doberman into four Pomeranians. "Oohhh!" he simpers.
Then the voice-over: "Introducing the all-new Dodge Caliber. It's anything but cute."
Oh, is it now?
Look, there's nothing wrong with positioning an economy car as a car with truck values. In fact, "the manly subcompact" is a very good idea. You can even suggest that everything else in the category looks effeminate. Though political correctness is out of control in this society, you're still allowed to choose your own sexual demeanor.
But what no advertiser has any business doing is calling people fairies, because it is cheap, because it is gratuitous, because it is hateful.
Gay and lesbian consumers
Also self-destructive, undermining Daimler Chrysler corporate entreaties to gay and lesbian consumers -- not to mention the much larger sick-of-sexual-bullying population. But never mind the business consequences.
There is simply no room in advertising for hate speech. Period.
For the record, Daimler Chrysler and BBDO protest that this spot is obviously not homophobic because the guy with the lap dogs is a preppy type-as opposed to some flamboyant queen. Of course, the same people swear they were totally unaware of the "fairy" double-entendre.
They say we're seeing things. We say they're living in a fantasy world, and it's anything but cute.
Review: Zero stars