Pandas and Beavers and White Guys, oh my!

I like “The Ladders” job site. I used it, even after I saw their ad on TV. You know the one — there’s an average looking white guy playing tennis, when suddenly he’s deluged with people running on the court to play, too. The line is “When you let everybody play… nobody wins.”

I didn’t see the problem with the ad until recently when a friend of mine, Laura, pointed out that the “everybody” in the commercial were women, people of color, people who were overweight, or sloppily dressed, or older, or… well, basically, anyone who wasn’t our middle aged, white male hero. It’s a good commercial, centered on a great metaphor, as long as you don’t look past that metaphor at the reality of the institutional discrimination that suffuses every frame.

How did I miss it? Especially because, as an overweight, scruffy-faced, frequently long-haired and usually sloppily dressed guy, I’m clearly one of the undesirables. Come to think of it, my scattered mixed bag of experience probably makes me one of the undesirables on the job search front, too. CEO Mark Cendella seems to have missed it to, judging from his response on, which focuses on the elitism of the $100K salary threshold as opposed to the casting in the commercial. (Please note: Response no longer available.)

On the other hand, I was instantly offended by the Sales Genie commercials, both the “Panda” commercialthat aired on this year’s Super Bowl and the “Indian Salesman” that aired during last year’s Super Bowl. And while I clearly wasn’t alone, with some bloggers jumping on the commercials right away, there seemed to be a lack of outrage from interest groups, publications, the news and the rest of the powers that be.

Now, finally, compare all three of these ads to the Danica Patrick GoDaddy ad that was banned from running on the same Super Bowl. An off-color but not explicit extended beaver joke that winked at pop stars and their “accidental” exposures to get noticed when a good domain will do. Even though the full beaver ad never even ran on TV, it was met with shock, outrage and vitriol.

Why am I dragging this out now, months after the ads started running? Because I was watching a dvr’d show the other day when my 3 1/2 year old daughter came in just after the Sale Genie Indian Salesman ad ran. I started thinking about racism, sexism, elitism, and all the other isms that get bandied about all the time and wondered what I would have answered my daughter if she asked me about the funny man with the funny accent in the commercial.

Can someone please explain to me why the GoDaddy commercial gets banned, while the SalesGenie and The Ladders ads don’t?