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Hefty Responds to Trash Bag Commercial Complaint
posted by Nightmist on Tuesday December 04, @12:24PM
from the news dept.
News Someone at Hefty has responded to my complaint about their current commercial trashing men. Among other reasons they give for running this ad is the fact that they ran it through several focus groups, which found it "humorous." She does not tell me what the ratio of women to men in those focus groups were. She does, however, apologize for the offensiveness of the advertisement. Her letter (as well as my original) may be read by clicking Read More below.

--------
Hefty's response to me
--------

Dear Mr. Hanback,

First, I would like to apologize to you for offending you with our new television commercial. We meant no harm. In fact, a lot of research was done before the ad was put together and it was decided to do something like this as a "tongue-in-cheek" approach to the women consumers who do most of the shopping for groceries and clean up items, etc. After filming the ad, but before any final decisions were made as to whether or not we would go with it, the company then spent considerable time showing it to focus groups to get a good feel for their reaction. The overwhelming majority of consumers found it amusing. They thought it funny and cute, with no serious thoughts to "throw out" the men in their lives.

Considering the level of seriousness we all must deal with today, we were simply trying to approach the introduction of a new style trash bag with some humor. We would never knowingly offend or annoy our consumers in anyway. Again, please accept our apology.

Sincerely,


Arlene Stafford
Consumer Affairs Representative
Pactiv Corporation

-------
My original letter
------

Dear Sir or Madam:

This notice is to inform you that I will no longer be purchasing any products under the "Hefty" brand. I have come to this decision because of a recent advertising campaign intended to besmirch and degrade men to the level of women's garbage.

As a single man and the owner of my own home, I have always relied on Hefty products, but from now on I will be purchasing my garbage bags and other plastics products from your biggest competitor. I also intend to request that my local Wal-Mart and Food Lion (where I do my shopping for these items) refrain from stocking your product, so that other men who have not seen your ad are not unwittingly supporting the idea that they are nothing but garbage.

The advertisement to which I am referring is a television ad campaign in which a woman compares having Hefty trash bags to having a "big strong man" around the house, which she can then trash when she's done with "him." As a man, this advertisement is insulting on a variety of levels:

1. It paints a picture of men as soulless, lifeless "tools," good for nothing but exploitation by women;

2. It encourages women to think of men as "garbage" and not people; garbage which can be tossed out and trampled upon without second thought to our humanity;

3. Together with other male bashing ads by other companies and advertising agencies, your ad further polarizes men and women against each other, and fosters greater resentment between the sexes.

In another way, this particular advertisement insults women because it paints all women as heartless and evil people who are simply looking for someone on whom to take pleasure by destruction.

In this day and age when fewer men are choosing to marry out of fear of divorce and the destruction of their lives, and more and more women are become violent and murderous toward their husbands, boyfriends, and male children, your ad is an unwelcome instigator.

Considering the above, I implore you to take the following action:

1. Remove the offending advertisement and all others like it from the airwaves;

2. Fire your ad agency and marketing people, and demand your money back from the amazing display of social incompetence that created this offensive piece;

3. Reply to my message so that I know you received it and are taking this matter seriously.

I am forwarding this complaint to everyone I can find who may be affiliated with this particular advertisment. I am also posting it to several locations on the Internet which support men's interests, so that others may see my outrage and duplicate my action against it.

I also hope that you do understand my reasons for behaving this way against your company. I have nothing personal against you, nor do I have any complaints about your product. I am simply tired of and frustrated with fighting to prove myself a human being in women's minds every day. Advertisements like yours make that struggle all the more difficult, and make my life all the less worth living.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

Respectfully,


James Hanback, Jr.

Trends in Educational Equity | Chivalry's Last Rites?  >

 

 
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
details, details...
by brad (moc.oohay@leirna) on Tuesday December 04, @12:42PM EST (#1)
(User #305 Info) http://www.student.math.uwaterloo.ca/~bj3beatt
"[W]omen [are the] consumers who do most of the shopping for groceries and clean up items, etc."

coupled with

"We would never knowingly offend or annoy our consumers in anyway."

hrm... i think i get what she's saying here.
What she didn't say
by napnip on Tuesday December 04, @02:00PM EST (#2)
(User #494 Info)
What she didn't say was very revealing. She didn't say they would remove the ad. (Which the original complaint letter asked.)

So essentially, what she's saying is "Well, sorry you got offended, but it really doesn't matter if you or a billion other men get offended, the ad stays because it makes us money."

Don't get me wrong, as an Ayn Rand worshipping capitalist, I believe they have every right to run their company however they see fit. And I have every right not to buy their products anymore.

"This is John Galt speaking." -Atlas Shrugged
Re:What she didn't say
by brad (moc.oohay@leirna) on Tuesday December 04, @02:06PM EST (#3)
(User #305 Info) http://www.student.math.uwaterloo.ca/~bj3beatt
it still would have been nice if she had replied to all parts of the initial email. ignoring them, although tactful, is somewhat irritating.
Re:What she didn't say
by Nightmist (nightmist@mensactivism.org) on Tuesday December 04, @02:12PM EST (#4)
(User #187 Info) http://www.jameshanbackjr.com
Personally, I would love to have stats on the actual number of women versus number of men who do the shopping for their products these days.

I'm willing to bet that their impression of that they have more women buying their product than men is wholly inaccurate, considering the increasing number of single and divorced people in the U.S.

replies by sites
by brad (moc.oohay@leirna) on Tuesday December 04, @03:46PM EST (#5)
(User #305 Info) http://www.student.math.uwaterloo.ca/~bj3beatt
on a similar note, sexualityandu.ca responded to my email with their contact info.
bad joke
by plumber on Tuesday December 04, @06:23PM EST (#6)
(User #301 Info)
Ms. Stafford says:

>They thought it funny and cute, with no serious thoughts to "throw out" the men in their lives.

The plumber says:

Men regularly get thrown out of their kids' lives. Current child custody laws, along with vicious institutional sexism in administation, virtually ensures this. Your company should institute mandatory "anti-male bigotry" sensitivity training for all your employees .

Ms. Stafford says:

>Considering the level of seriousness we all must deal with today, we were simply trying to approach the introduction of a new style trash bag with some humor.

The plumber says:

Level of seriousness? When will you take seriously your role in creating a hostile environment for men? And when will you do something about it?


Re:What she didn't say
by phil on Tuesday December 04, @07:12PM EST (#7)
(User #234 Info)
What she didn't say was very revealing. She didn't say they would remove the ad. (Which the original complaint letter asked.)

Well, actually I wouldn't have expected them to remove the ad (which I've not seen, BTW) because of one person's complaint.

So essentially, what she's saying is "Well, sorry you got offended, but it really doesn't matter if you or a billion other men get offended, the ad stays because it makes us money."

You're right, except for the billion part. I think if thousands of men complained, the reaction would probably be different.

As it is, I don't think the reaction was all that bad - it's polite and at least tries to explain how the ad was designed and why it is still run. And it is true that humor which some find offensive, others still find harmless (it's really too bad I have no opportunity to see that ad). Anyway, even if they don't pull this ad, maybe it will make them think a little more when they design the next one. So IMO it still makes sense to complain like nightmist did, and for more men to complain about ads that offend us. You can't always expect instantaneous effects.

Not To Mention ...
by essex9999 on Tuesday December 04, @09:00PM EST (#8)
(User #511 Info)
... the fact that no mainstream company would run an ad for any product that joked about the idea of the men throwing women away like garbage, even if they believe their product was largely purchased by men.
Funny how great minds think alike!
by Anonymous User on Tuesday December 04, @09:20PM EST (#9)
Just last week I posted the following page at my The Martian Bachelor Science Page, under Anti-Male Sexist Ad #7:

Well, just when you think things couldn't go any lower, Hefty trash bags comes out with the following gem which has been running on the national network news (way to go Disney/ABC...).
The transcript pretty much speaks for itself:

Domestic goddess #1: "If I had a man like Hefty..."
Domestic goddess #2: "If I had a man like Hefty..."
Domestic goddess #3: "He'd always be coming up with new ways to impress me."
> boiler-plate regarding product
Domestic goddess #3: "And he'd know how to hold on tight."
Domestic goddess #1: (squirming seductively/sensually) "And he wouldn't cave under pressure."
> more boiler-plate, ending with off-camera announcer: "...and it stays put, so it can take it like a man!"
Domestic goddess #:3 "And when I'm done with him.."
> quick flash to Domestic goddess #1 dropping garbage bag carefreely into can
Domestic goddess #:3 "Chow, baby!"
Domestic goddess #:2 "Bye, bye!"
Domestic goddess #:1 "So long!"

  So there you have it explicitly: MAN = GARBAGE.

  And not just any man, but the one women long for...


Didn't Warren Farrell tell us that men are the expendable sex?

P.S. - I know all my fans will be disappointed to hear that the Lace Curtain has reached Colorado Spings and as a result my website has been pulled by the University of Colorado, evidently because someone complained about a *link* at my site (not content at the site itself). I am currently battling this blatant attempt at censorship.

P.P.S. - Can Scott or someone please send me my password here (MartianBachelor@peakmail.zzn.com); I can never remember it...
Re:Funny how great minds think alike!
by Larry on Tuesday December 04, @10:27PM EST (#10)
(User #203 Info)
MB,

As a fan, yes I am hugely disappointed. Do you think a blizzard of email from angry Martians would help?
Re:Funny how great minds think alike!
by Morlith (morlithspam@yahoo.com) on Tuesday December 04, @10:49PM EST (#11)
(User #460 Info)
You bet it will! Just like Hefty having to deal with thousands of complaints which might make it pull the ad, the University would have to re-evaluate their decision (and possibly reverse it) based on the number of complaints.

If they don't (and you can get the number of complaints and verify it) then you might be able to sue over free speech issues.
Note to self: Sarcasm is highly ineffective against stupid people.
Re:Funny how great minds think alike!
by Larry on Wednesday December 05, @12:49AM EST (#12)
(User #203 Info)
Sarcasm (and contempt) noted.

However, you seem to have missed the point of letter writing and most forms of protest. If they actually get someone to change their decision, that's fantastic. It's also a fantastic surprise.

If we, in sufficient numbers, consistently send letters and emails at the drop of a hat, we are practicing aversion therapy. Eventually, the offending parties give up the behavior because they KNOW they'll get a flood of complaints and it's not worth the hassle.

If we had deluged the "consumer affairs representatives" at Hefty with letters, they would have spent a week writing replies and filling out reports. If it happens a second time and we deluge them again, they will, en masse, become passionately against male-bashing in Hefty ads - not because they support us or because they think male-bashing doesn't move product, but because they don't want to deal with the fricking letters!
Re:Funny how great minds think alike!
by Nightmist (nightmist@mensactivism.org) on Wednesday December 05, @01:37AM EST (#13)
(User #187 Info) http://www.jameshanbackjr.com
If we had deluged the "consumer affairs representatives" at Hefty with letters, they would have spent a week writing replies and filling out reports. If it happens a second time and we deluge them again, they will, en masse, become passionately against male-bashing in Hefty ads - not because they support us or because they think male-bashing doesn't move product, but because they don't want to deal with the fricking letters!

Perhaps I'm missing your point here. Are you saying that it's simply not worthwhile to protest at all?

Re:Funny how great minds think alike!
by frank h on Wednesday December 05, @11:37AM EST (#14)
(User #141 Info)
I don't think that's what's being said. I do think that companies do things based on cost/benefit, not altruism. Frankly, I don't care if the motivation for Hefty's ads to become less misandrist is based on ideals; I just want it to stop.

I once set out on a one-man campaign to stop predictive dialer calls to my house by telemarketers. I did this by calling the phone company every time I got one, especially a hang-up. Of course, I got the usual response: "this is all perfectly legal under the Telecommunications Act of 1995, but we can provide you with a service, for a fee, that will block those calls to your home." What I did was immediately ask to see a supervisor and take the supervisor's time with the complaint. I did this every time I got an predictive-dialer hangup. It ended up being practically every day for about two weeks. Soon, the calls slowed to a stop. The phone company didn't stop the calls because I was right. They stopped them because I made it a busines problem for them.

The same principle can apply to almost any cause. Make what they are doing into a business problem whenever they do it, and if it's a large enough business problem, then they will stop.
Re:Funny how great minds think alike!
by brad (moc.oohay@leirna) on Wednesday December 05, @12:02PM EST (#15)
(User #305 Info) http://www.student.math.uwaterloo.ca/~bj3beatt
hrm... that's a really good idea. if it's perfectly legal for them to do these things all we need to do is keep complaining legal. although i've had problems with rogers@home lately. after waiting an hour on a waiting queue, they hung up on me. the problem gets hairy when the company makes it very difficult to contact them. they're allowed to talk to you but not the other way around. this is all covered in no logo.
Re:Funny how great minds think alike!
by Nightmist (nightmist@mensactivism.org) on Wednesday December 05, @12:21PM EST (#16)
(User #187 Info) http://www.jameshanbackjr.com
The same principle can apply to almost any cause. Make what they are doing into a business problem whenever they do it, and if it's a large enough business problem, then they will stop.

Indeed, and I maintain that asking my Wal-Mart and Food Lion to stop stocking Hefty, as well as complaining every time I see the ad, should cause them a business problem. :)

Re:Funny how great minds think alike!
by Anonymous User on Wednesday December 05, @01:04PM EST (#17)
Do you think a blizzard of email from angry Martians would help?

Thanks for the offer, but hold off for the time being, mostly on account of my not having tenure. They can dispense of the problem by just firing me if I don't handle things tactfully and show them it's in their best interest to do the right thing. The files are all safe, so at worst the site will move to a new location.

I've made contact with F.I.R.E. - The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (www.thefire.org) and they've shown interest. If you'll recall, I have a page on the all-male draft, with extensive anti-war comments by Albert Einstein, man-of-the-century and a life-long pacifist activist. So this could be more Sept 11th fall-out. (You can still prob. call up the page at Google's cache - it has material from Zubaty in it also.) Stuff like this is happening all over the country, and Colorado Springs is literally the belly of the military beast, what with the Air Force Academy, NORAD, and Air Force Space Command being headquartered here (not to mention an Army base too). Anyway, besides F.I.R.E I also have a (female) law student helping me; a prof at her U specializes in I-Net law and is often involved in Supreme Court litigation. So I'm not just twisting in the wind.

I don't think the U wants to go on record making single men second class citizens with restricted rights of speech. If they do, then that's the time for the letter-writing campaign to publicize it.

Now back to your regularly scheduled thread...


Re:Funny how great minds think alike!
by Larry on Wednesday December 05, @10:40PM EST (#18)
(User #203 Info)
Perhaps I'm missing your point here. Are you saying that it's simply not worthwhile to protest at all?

And here I was priding myself on my pithiness. *g*

Frank explained the gist of it, but didn't point out the underlying strategy. Any given protest is just some folks being annoying. It's unlikely to change anyone's mind about anything.

But CONSISTENT protest is cumulative. We show the HEFTY ad people that EVERY TIME they make a male-hostile ad they are going to have to deal with complaints from those men's right kooks. Then they will think twice before choosing the ad with the dumb guy over the ad with the cute dogs. We make the "dumb guy" choice not worth the personal and institutional hassle.

They don't have to announce a change in policy. They don't have to perform a public mea culpa. They don't have to embrace men's rights. All they have to do is choose something that's not anti-male and they know we go away.

The key is consistency of protest. They have to learn to EXPECT the protest. So, yes, every protest is worth the effort if you stay consistent about it. You can lose every protest battle and win the war. You know you've won when you don't have anything to protest. Then you declare victory and talk about the good old days in the movement and complain about how the younger generation is so ungrateful.
Re:Funny how great minds think alike!
by frank h on Thursday December 06, @11:24AM EST (#19)
(User #141 Info)
"They have to learn to EXPECT the protest. "

Precisely!!

How many of us have encountered at work or elsewhere pre-emptive actions designed to put off litigation or other protests initiated by the feminists? If they learn to EXPECT the protests, and if it's expensive enough for them to have to deal with them, then they will think twice about publishing misandry.

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