Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ad Dishin': Cue The Stereotypes

(firstly i can't believe it took me a year and a half to think of a more coherent/catchy name than Ad Diction. ad dishin'... a dishin'.... addition... it works in my mind)
So I originally wanted to use this space to discuss the new ubiqutous Verizon commercial, I'm sure you know the one (i couldn't find the video online.) A pretty (stereo)typical Italian guy is grilling and what looks like a family barbeque. He introduces his best friend who's "like a brother to [him]", he introduces his brother who;s "more like a cousin" and this is where the commercial gets if not interesting at least mention worthy. In the original version that aired as recently as last week he then introduces his uncle "who doesn't owe [him] money so he's a keeper" but in the revised commercial that I first noticed this weekend and didn't know if it was just a attempt to shorten (by a second) the commercial, but in the new version the italian griller guido just introduces his "uncle...he's a keeper." And like I said before i didn't know if it was just me, but I've seen this version exclusively and so I began to think that the Italiam American lobby or anti defamation league was offended, or believed that the mention of someone owing an italian money would bring up old mafia/ loan shark stereotypes and imagery. (and apparently there's already been a lot of huffing and puffing and rigmarole over this) But at what point are you secure enough "as a people" to laugh off such things and instead take it for what it is, a meaningless bad commercial. I don't think Verizon will be able to tip someone over the age into anti- italian bigotry, or that any of the stereotypes brought up are new (and to be honest some of the best achievements in our visual culture have rested on such stereotypes)
If any commercial should offend them I'd think that new Denny's "eat a serious grown up breakfast" commercial where three "wiseguys" are basically planning a hit

I mean really? At least the verizon commercial shows a family having a good time. Plus that breakfast offends me. Umbrage has been taken!

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Anonymous said...

Italian Americans Protest Stereotypes in Denny's Ad
Boycott Threatened If Commercial Is Not Pulled

WASHINGTON, DC - February 24, 2009 The Sons of Italy Commission for Social Justice (CSJ) is calling for a boycott of Denny's to protest the stereotyping of Italian Americans in the company's new national ad campaign, "Serious Breakfast."

The CSJ isthe anti-defamation arm of the Order Sons of Italy in America, the nation's largest Italian American organization. Denny's is the largest family restaurant chain in the U.S.

The CSJ has criticized one of the commercials in the series for its portrayal of three men who appear to be Italian American gangsters, discussing murdering "Benny" as they wait for their breakfast at a Denny's restaurant. The CSJ called for the commercial to be permanently removed from both television and the internet.

In response to the CSJ's complaint, Nelson Marchioli, Denny's president and CEO, said the company had reviewed the commercial and found "no ethnic stereotyping, just fun and humor."

"This is an unsatisfactory reply," says CSJ National President Anthony Baratta. "The Godfather movies and The Sopranos television series have helped make violence and criminality synonymous with Italian Americans," he says, "And the Denny commercial perpetuates this stereotype. That is not funny."

If Denny's refuses to archive the commercial, Baratta says "Italian Americans can and will enjoy a 'serious breakfast' at a restaurant that does not insult them. Denny's should know that Italian Americans are the nation's fifth largest ethnic group, and to offend us will only hurt Denny's bottom line."

Baratta urges all concerned to contact Nelson Marchioli at:

Denny's Corporation
203 East Main Street
Spartanburg, SC 29319
(800) 733-6697 or directly at (864) 597-7781

The Sons of Italy CSJ is the anti-defamation arm of the Order Sons of Italy in America (OSIA), the largest and oldest national organization for people of Italian descent in the U.S. To learn more about the CSJ, visit us on the Web at or contact us via e-mail at

Anonymous said...

In indonesia you would get a punishment for that. There is a humiliating law there. Sad :(

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