Ad yanked after protests over woman hitting man

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John Heinzel
A car commercial that showed a woman slapping her male partner across the face for allegedly leering at another female has been pulled after viewers _ primarily men_ complained about its violent content. In the ad, which ran nationally, a young couple was shown strolling down a street. The man turned to admire a parked Chrysler Neon, but his partner believed he was ogling another woman and cuffed him.

DaimlerChrysler Canada Inc. said it yanked the ad last week after people complained. The commercial is running again, but it has been edited so the woman merely scowls at the man instead of slapping him. DaimlerChrysler said it didn’t intend to promote violence against men. “We were out to get attention, not upset people,” said Pearl Davies, Chrysler brand manager at DaimlerChrysler in Windsor, Ont. She was unable to say how many viewers complained, but said a majority were men and there were “enough to make us feel we didn’t want to enrage our customer body”

That the commercial made it onto television at all illustrates a gender bias in society’s tolerance of violence, according to men’s-rights advocates. “Just turn this thing around,” said Dan Stevelman, a self-employed economist in Calgary and a member of the Men’s Educational Support Association. ” Would the guy be right in slugging her? Of course not.” He said DaimlerChrysler deserves credit for removing the slap. ” At least they responded. Better late than never,” he said.

The commercial, created by Publicis BCP Inc. of Montreal and shot in Montreal city, also shows that audiences can react in an unpredictable way __ or at least in a manner different from what the advertiser expected. Focus groups who were shown the ad before it went to air__ many agencies do this as a matter of course__ did not raise objections, said Othmar Stein, Vice-president of public and government affairs at DaimlerChrysler. “That sometimes happens. Things get through,” he said. “It was meant in an amusing way but it didn’t pan out that way.” He could recall only one or two other examples of Chrysler pulling an ad in the past decade, he said. Advertising Standards Canada, the ad industry’s self-regulatory body, would not say whether it also received complaints about the spot. ASC’s policy is not to comment on specific cases, said president Linda Nagel. DaimlerChrysler, for its part, said it acted voluntarily and not at ASC’s urging.

“What this shows you is that advertisers are very responsive to the kinds of feedback they’re getting and they’re listening to consumers,” Ms. Nagel said. Had the ad faced ASC’s scrutiny, it may well have violated the organization’s gender-portrayal guidelines. The section on violence in ads reads, “neither sex should be portrayed as exerting domination over another by means of overt or implied threats, or actual force.”