Foot in Mouth™ Spotlight?

Once again, we continue to take aim at the worst, most irresponsible creative campaigns we’ve seen and urge creators to be more responsible with the immense power they have to impact others.

The following ratings legend is used on The Inner Bottom Line to reflect, in our opinion, an absence or misuse of good ethical values. They’re attached whenever applicable after each review:

Warning to all. Destructive and abusive. STAY AWAY!!
Utter Trash Zone. (Zero redemption or recycling value, even in California).
BEWARE! Crossed or non-existent boundaries.
CONFUSED MESS! Puleeze go back to Frame #1 and start over!
Excuse us, but did we really see what we think we saw???
Excuse us, but did we really hear what we think we heard???
DANGER! DANGER! Exposure could do real damage!
We’d ask “what were you thinking” but we know the answer: you weren’t!

The Worst
By fall, 2003, while films continued to threaten to take first place away from advertising and commercials in the bad taste and offensive action department, we were forced to focus on one seemingly innocuous commercial campaign:

Geico Insurance assaulted us with a concept that ranged from tasteless, utterly inappropriate, and insensitive to, in one instance, sadistic behavior.


The worst of the worst was:

The particular spot within the Geico campaign that took the cake and ran away with it, in our opinion, depicted a convict in orange coveralls sitting at the table in a stark interrogation room.

Another man, whom we eventually realize is the convict’s lawyer, is shown standing next to the table talking on the phone. He completes the call, appearing to be overjoyed with the news he’s obviously just received. He tells the convict that he’s just gotten great news. When the convict asks if he’s being paroled, the lawyer replies, ‘No! I just found out I can save a lot of money with Geico!”

Puleeze!! Someone check the water and food (ahem!) supplies at this company’s agency of record. Did they really think that this was making good fun? Well, we beg to differ. It’s mean-spirited and sadistic, much less disrespectful and rude. For shame!

Here is our condensed recap of past winning losers that included:
“Jackass: The Movie.” This was a terrifying glorification of destructive, abusive behavior, combined with the lowest level of taste possible, that capitalized off the success of the TV series that resulted in tragic outcomes for a number of teens emulating stunts depicted on air. Bottom line: this film raked in an even bigger bonanza of profits off their loyal following.

“Forty Days & Forty Nights.” This misbegotten film, while featuring two of the most talented young actors today, Josh Hartnett & Shannyn Sossamon, nevertheless set a new low for gross peer behavior and abusive, non-existent boundaries between friends and co-workers.

Progresso Soup. This TV campaign was based on an insulting, deprecating concept depicting a “smarter, grown-up-taste” person who knows how to buy the “right” soup and instructs the “stupid, childish-taste” person to grow up and “buy right.”

The Best
The Inner Bottom Line bestows our special Halo award upon those artistic achievements and projects that reflect the highest standards of ethical story telling, example and character portrayal.

Our first Halo winner, “Finding Forrester”, set the bar very high for those who follow with its sensitive, insightful, strong and uncompromising look at respect for privacy, appropriate boundaries, integrity, fairness, honesty and loyalty of the highest caliber.

We are pleased to add to our first winner the following films that have depicted difficult or complex messages with honesty, respect, sensitivity, courage, fairness and taste - something that has been in short supply in Hollywood in recent times.

And The Halo Award goes to…

“Far From Heaven”, an extraordinary, delicate, brave and heart-wrenchingly honest story about love, relationship and bigotry that is encased within exquisite aesthetic dimensions and photography by director Todd Haynes and portrayed by Julianna Moore, Dennis Hasbert and Dennis Quaid with piercing directness, vulnerability and taste.

“The Hours”, an outstanding example of honest, courageous and uncompromising story-telling that features amazing character portrayals by Nicole Kidman, Julianna Moore and Meryl Streep seamlessly woven together over three different decades and sub-cultures through brilliant direction and editing.

“Unfaithful”, a brilliant, unflinching and uncompromising film about marriage, infidelity, passion and rage and the resultant consequences of those emotions told with brutal, naked honesty and featuring a multi-faceted, rainbow-like, achingly magical performance by Diane Lane that leaves one breathless.

Ed. Note:
While we firmly support the right of each of us to express our opinions and feelings, we also firmly believe that adults, as well as media, press, and commercial organizations, have a huge responsibility and enormous privilege to be accountable for the messages they transmit, for the examples they set, and for the resultant disasters they encourage.