Did anyone else notice the bizarre sexism during the commercial breaks on last night’s episode of Mad Men? I can accept that a healthy dose of douchiness comes with the territory when I decide to watch currently airing episodes of a show instead of waiting for it to come out on DVD, but I honestly felt creeped out by how skewed all of last night’s ads were toward a male (and sexist) audience. Could it be that, because the show itself portrays a stylized hypermasculinity, advertisers are missing the context and coming up with campaigns to try and match Mad Men’s outdated sexism?
I saw ads for (and this is just what I can remember): Lipitor, Viagra, NFL Sunday Ticket, and more, all aimed at middle-aged men who I didn’t think were following Peggy Olsen’s rise to the top all that closely. Oh, and let us not forget this gem, from Clorox:
Because, you know, sometimes even MEN do the laundry! And Clorox apparently dragged that ad out of its archives (here is a Feministing post on it from two years ago) just for Mad Men. WTF?
The people watching the show with me remarked on the male-centric nature of the ads as well, so I don’t think this is me being a lone crazy feminist wondering why in the hell AMC morphed into SpikeTV for an hour on Sunday night. Of course I thought of Michelle’s post from the other week about how some of the subtleties of Mad Men may be lost on certain less-than-critically-thinking viewers. Is this true for the advertisers as well? Shouldn’t they be a little more on top of their game in realizing that this is a television show about a (thankfully) bygone era and that the men-are-men-and-women-are-property attitude is not one we’re yearning to bring back?
Also, did I miss something here, or do middle-aged straight men seem like a weird demographic for this show to be targeting with its ads? I know that Mad Men is wildly popular and appeals to many people, and I know that it has been marketed as superdupermanly (did anyone else catch the Playboy premiere promo?) but I am still surprised that they seem to be going for the football loving, erectile-dysfunction having, high cholesterol male set. What would Peggy Olsen say about the lack of concern for women viewers?
So what exactly is going on here? Do you think that this advertising is a savvy move to cater to the men who watch Mad Men? Or do you think it is evidence of a gross lack of understanding by advertisers who are merely thinking that a sexist show should have sexist commercial breaks? Has Mad Men been hijacked by the very people it critiques (misogynists in the advertising world)? Because if that’s the case, I am going to need more than a couple of Don Draper’s old fashioneds to stomach next week’s episode.