Chrysler TV ad criticized for using gay stereotypes
April 07 2006 12:00 AM ET
Some gay rights
advocates are raising questions about a new Chrysler
commercial that features a fairy who uses her wand to turn a
tough-looking guy with a big dog into a pastel-clad man
walking four small dogs on pink leashes.
DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group introduced the
"Anything but Cute" ad campaign last month to promote
the new Dodge Caliber compact car, aimed at young buyers.
One of five ads in the campaign is
titled "Too Tough," a 30-second spot that
features the fairy. It was created by the Detroit
office of BBDO Worldwide, part of Omnicom Group Inc.
Gay rights advocates say the transformed male
character has stereotypically gay characteristics and
note that "fairy" is a derogatory term for a gay man.
"This guy looks pretty gay to me," said Jeffrey
Montgomery, executive director of the Detroit-based Triangle
Foundation. The group promotes rights for gay, lesbian,
bisexual, and transgender people.
"I'm willing to believe they didn't intend it to
be a gay man, but I don't believe they're shocked
someone would draw that conclusion," Montgomery told
the Detroit Free Press for a story in
The Internet-based Commercial Closet, which
monitors marketing tactics that could be offensive to
gays and lesbians, was more critical of the ad. "It
directly finds humor with the term 'fairy,' referring not
just to the type that flies around with a magic wand but
also the universally recognizable gay stereotype of an
effeminate gay man," it said in an online review of
Chrysler officials said the company has had
an average number of complaints about the ad. They
said the man is not intended to be gay and that
Chrysler will continue airing the commercials.
"We're kind of surprised that people are making
a conclusion about someone's sexual orientation based
on the clothes they're wearing," said company
spokeswoman Suraya Bliss.
Northwestern University marketing professor Tim
Calkins said it is hard to make an entertaining
commercial without offending a particular group. "The
key is, if you find an ad that's offensive, then you have to
respond and in some cases take it off the air," Calkins told