I was watching TV the other day and saw a commercial for Klondike bar that made me spit out my drink. Then, in the next commercial break, I saw a second Klondike ad that made me want to hurl. The ads were part of their well-known “What would you do for a Klondike bar” campaign, but they were just awful.
In the first ad, the thing that this guy would do for a Klondike bar was listen to his wife for five seconds. No, really. He listened to his wife speak for five seconds, a feat of endurance so bold and daring that he deserved a Klondike bar as a reward. In the second ad, two men held hands for five seconds. Another feat so bold and daring that they deserved a reward. What was going on here?
I did some quick scanning on Youtube and found some older ads along the same lines:
(Note: Why is this woman reading a magazine standing up in the kitchen? Is she allowed to leave?)
And this one.
I grew up eating Klondike bars. They were my dad’s favorite, and since my dad was pretty much the coolest person I knew at 6 years old, I figured they must be pretty great. Watching these ads now, as a Klondike-lover and self-actualized woman, I feel betrayed. How long has Klondike been peddling sexist, homophobic drivel before I noticed?
The most frustrating part is that “What would you do for a Klondike bar?” is potentially a really great ad campaign idea. Think of all the wacky things that people might do for this tasty treat! But instead of taking advantage of the many creative ways you could answer this question, Klondike is falling back on tired stereotypes, trying to “reach” their male audience by portraying men as boorish oafs, insensitive jerks, irresponsible babies, or homophobes. Nice, real nice.
I don’t really have much else to say. Criticism of these ad tropes is out there and available (check out coverage of recent years‘ Superbowl ads) and I don’t have anything to add that hasn’t been said before by Sarah Haskins.
Instead, I’m writing this from a place of disappointment and betrayal. Brand loyalty is a real and powerful thing, and it hurts when a company you always liked lets you down. Of course it’s naive to expect that companies will be ethical, or that their branding choices will align with progressive values. So I guess this is just another one of those “innocence lost” situations. The glorious ice cream bar of my childhood is now forever tainted.
What would I do for a Klondike bar today? Nothing.