Clearly some readers do not understand advertising.
Their responses appear as unthoughtful and as self-confirming as some of the reactions against the ad you mention.
Was the ad innocent? Maybe, but it’s unlikely if you understand how much planning, effort and money goes into creating such an ad.
Advertising certainly is not an innocent industry. Its objective is to manipulate, nudge, use fear, ego and sex to get you to buy.
Advertisements address viewers intellectual and emotional weaknesses in such a way as to make them think that the product is cool, so that when they go and buy a new car, they will buy the cool car.
Just a picture of a cool little girl with a banana in front of a cool car?
Joe Camel, just a cool cartoon character who happens to smoke?
That would be naive, right?
The fact that you yourself use the term ‘cool’ for the girl and the car tells me that the ad has already achieved its objective. In fact someone suspiscious could read your article as a subliminal advertorial for this car-maker, i’m not saying that it is, but the article is apologetic and justifying it without much consideration of alternative valid interpretations. You say that those protesting the ad are attaching their personal interpretations to the photo, whilst you should just take it for what it is: “just showing ‘a cool girl’ and a ‘cool car’”. People shouldn’t attach what they think the intent of the ad is, but take it for what it shows. The adage that a cigar sometimes is just a cigar. Yet you inserted ‘Cool’. But ‘Cool’ is not ‘just there in the picture’ either. And so you portray the car as ‘factually cool’. But ‘cool’ isn’t factually in the ad at all.
You have a big following thus you can be seen as an influencer, and the car company would have a good strategy to get some help from influencers to turn a PR disaster into a positive campaign.
Now i am getting carried away here, i am not trying to discredit you, I am just thinking out loud. You are a good writer and I follow you, but, you know, I also understand how advertising works.
Ahhh where are the simple days of the cool ads with the cool bikini-clad girls draped over new cool cars? Why did women bully companies to change?
Shouldn’t people question what subconscious intellectual and emotional triggers an ad is trying to address?
I think a healthy society needs its participants to not only question other views, but also to question one’s own.
BTW, some readers think that the company apologized because they got bullied. That’s not how companies work. The only reason the company apologized is because it was in the interest of shareholder-value to do so.