Creating responsible ads (long version)

Below is the original letter as submitted.

From: “jfry craig (toque)” To: “‘The Gauntlet'”
Subject: RE: Gauntlet Letter
Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2003 12:00:38 -0600
Organization: toqueboy studios

Victor & Lawrence

Attached is a short version of the letter 530 words, and the long
version of the letter ~1200 words. I will allow the short version to be
published if it’s explicitly mentioned that a longer version of the
letter is available on the gauntlet website, and the letter is easily
accessed on their site. It cannot be displayed among the ‘commentary’
below the current ‘apology’ editorial online.

Please forward this to the gauntlet once you approve it.

thanks for your time,

jfry craig || director || toqueboy studios

805a 17ave SW, Calgary, AB. T2T 0A1
vox: 403.802.2363 || fax: 403.541.1151

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6üpã5 5 JJ‰.‰].JJ.To the reading audience,

In school we’re taught to learn both sides of a story before compiling our data, and that conjecture is the curse of the C+ student. Well, rigor was obviously not a mandate in this issue, as both articles (CBC and The Gauntlet) were published without the input of The Whiskey Nightclub or Toqueboy Studios (the design company which produces work for The Whiskey Nightclub).

It’s my contention that the people bringing forth the negative comments about the advert in question have made huge leaps when saying that The Whiskey Nightclub promotes the notion of date rape. It is obviously in the best interest of The Whiskey Nightclub to be on good standing with students, and the Whiskey Nightclub has tried to establish a good rapport with students by offering free limo rides, a chocolate buffet, and live entertainment on the advertised night in question.

Regardless of how a person interprets the saying on the button (and there have been many positive remarks from both sexes), staff from The Whiskey Nightclub or from my studio should have been contacted to help shed some light on the situation before the media was allowed to make a mockery of this situation.

Toqueboy Studios has been doing the design and marketing work for The Whiskey Nightclub since it’s inception in 2001. In that time we’ve taken great pride in the fact that all of our work has been very female-friendly and that unlike other ‘superclubs’ in the city we’ve used design and marketing techniques that don’t rely on sex. An honest assessment of the situation is that we’ve probably under-sexualized The Whiskey Nightclub to their detriment in order to forward our belief that sex isn’t required to sell products.

In the past Toqueboy Studios and The Whiskey Nightclub have been complemented by CJSW, the TSE and ASA, as well as the Nursing Association for creating promotional material that emphasizes good times and humour as opposed to ‘sex’ in order to promote highly successful parties such as The Frosh Slosh, The Student Nurses Cabaret, and BSD Blowout I and II, not to mention the CJSW Tower Launch Party. If one would take the time to look back at the advertising that’s been in the Gauntlet since The Whiskey Nightclub opened, one would realize that this was the first ad that’s featured a woman in a provocative manner of any sort, and previous ads that have had any ‘flesh’ in them, have displayed only a male torso. Ironically, I suppose, the ad with the male torso featured the tagline “A Hard Man Is Good To Find”, which received nothing but compliments.

We do work for 11 different bar/lounge/restaurants in town, and you’ll find that across the board these bars have absolutely no sexual agenda in their advertising and to a fault allow my studio to create more conscious and design oriented work for them than many/most of their competitors.

Further research into the matter will show that in the last year Toqueboy Studios has provided significant charitable contributions to FairyTales International Film Festival and Calgary Pride Group, and that I’ve personally provided monetary and donations in kind to Herland Film Festival. At Toqueboy Studios we feel strongly about impacting society in a positive fashion, and our charitable and corporate work speaks to these convictions.
The staff of the Whiskey as well as the staff at Toqueboy Studios meant no harm in the ad, and are sorry that it was taken the wrong way. That said, I’m more than a little disturbed that fellow academics failed in their rigor to seek out all available sources of information before forming a highly exaggerated opinion. I’m also embarrassed that this was a story that our national media felt was newsworthy, and then felt compelled to broadcast it in an obviously one-sided manner.

Any member of the staff of The Whiskey Nightclub or Toqueboy Studios would have been more than happy to address this situation, and information on how to contact either party was easily available in the contact information on the ad, or by contacting the advertising department of The Gauntlet.

There have been no media stories on how Toqueboy Studios has provided free branding, print, and web campaigns for charitable groups that represent many of the same interests of Emily Elder, but sure enough, the media will exaggerate the connotation of a button on a lapel. This is disheartening as a person who takes great pride in his work and the reputation of my clients.

And I guess as a small business owner, I’m saying that I had better things to do yesterday and today than field calls and worry about losing a client because of a small issue like this, when there’s real issues at hand that both interested students and media could be tackling. Do you object to the ad, sure. That’s fine, I object to a lot of things – much of the advertising and content on daytime and primetime TV (Temptation Island, Jerry Springer, and The Bachelor come to mind), also the position of the news media as a service starved for stories in 7 minute chunks in between commercials for alcohol, prescription drugs, questionable chatlines, and adult video stores, not to mention headlines that glorify rapists, murderers and terror crimes. If you’re going to sell papers with glorification, you must also accept the old maxim that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, and your advertisers are naturally going to take your lead and follow in turn. The irony, of course, is that the nothing was meant by the button. There was no subversive message intended. And no one was supposed to be offended.

What infuriates me the most is that all of our ads and designs (for all of our clients) take the high road and attempt to present our clients and their establishments in the most esteemed light, and all of that hard work has been put into question by a few people high on reaction and low on research.

Our work and the professional attitude of the staff at The Whiskey Nightclub speaks for itself, and I believe that anyone who looks into this with an open mind will see that the button contained unfortunate wording, but that the ad in no way implied date rape or anything of the sort. And if students are upset over this ad, I suggest that they become upset over events with the title ‘Frosh Slosh’ or The Gauntlet’s use of a ‘Sex Issue’ every year to attract new readers and advertisers. I believe that the furor over this ad displays a naive assessment of the situation and that it illustrates how defunct news media and academics have become in creating content of import or credibility.

This whole situation has left me completely disheartened and relatively disenchanted with the media, and people who think that they ought to have an opinion. As a recent graduate from U of C’s faculty of graduate studies with a Master’s Degree, I find it offensive that both students and reporters utterly failed in their rigor when presenting this issue. This, more than ‘sex’ in advertising (which is a cliched story already), is a larger issue for our society.

jfry craig || director || toqueboy.studios ||
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