Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mother, NY... no more 'Mad Men'?

Thank you, creatives at Mother, NY! Nothing like
a man in a wig with a mustache to say
tranny loser! har har *slaps knee*

Mother, NY is an award-winning (2009 agency of the year as determined by Creativity Magazine), hipster ad agency which often uses humor in ads. They're best known for their whimsical, widely seen commercials for K-Y and Stella Artois but other clients include Diet Coke, IKEA and even Amnesty International. Recently, to publicize their move from lower Manhattan to Hell's Kitchen in midtown Manhattan, the wits at Mother, NY came up with a pfuuuunny little promo piece called: Transsexual Barber shop. *chortle*

NOTE: the section being discussed starts at point 2:09 in the video.

Commodified Creativity
Here's the concept, we all know trannies (the MtF kind) have facial hair, right... RIGHT? So how about a barber shop which caters to these creatures? A barber shop (which are for men, get it?) which can trim the mustaches of men dressing like ladies (which is the definition of the word "transsexual") Mother, NY reasons, if we can show our creativity in promoting such an outrageous concept as that, we can advertise anything plus it will showcase our outrageous sense of humor and ability to break boundaries. *guffaw*

Is this OUTRAGEOUS or what?

The video features a shot of their new "shop" with a huge banner saying "transsexual mustache clipping" (which is represented by images of men with mustaches wearing wigs). Just to add a double dose of outrageousness, the wags at Mother, NY also include a line saying, "We also help French women." In case you don't understand the humor in this line, just follow me: 1) the women in some ethnic groups have more facial hair than others; 2) facial hair on women is just gross; 3) all Americans hate the French; 4) C'mon, it's just funny, lighten up! *raucous laughter*

Haha, transsexuals = FAIL

After showing a series of transsexuals with facial hair they then take it to the streets and interview boring people what they think about the transsexual hair styles. At one point, they ask a professional looking woman, "would you tell your transsexual friends about the transsexual barber shop?" She responds by looking stumped, and then replies, "probably not." Now is this response supposed to mean, "what, me, have transsexual friends?" or "no, because this 'joke' would likely offend them and make them think less of me because I would stoop to making a stupid joke at their expense?"

At the end of the piece, while scrolling through a list of all the services, real and hee-larious, which Mother, NY provides, it lists "transgender pruning." Yes, the transgenders are a hopeless bunch and need help in their pathetic quest to blend in. Thank you advertising peeps, we all need a laff. I want apologize for the blacks, handicapped people and Asians who won't allow you to include them in your 'fun'... but there's always us transsexuals. And advertising professionals such as yourselves have definitely come a looong way since the smug, entitled, sexist ways of the Mad Men crew. Right? ...RIGHT?! *ROTFLMAO*

10/19 Update: The offending video was removed from YouTube although it still exists in the compilation video shown above. There were individual apologies sent to people who wrote Mother, NY but no corporate-wide, publicly available statement as to why they did the piece and why they removed it.

The wild GENDER REBELS at Mother, NY.
Woo Hoo, Rock 'N Roll!


  1. There is NOTHING funny about this. It only spreads transphobia and homophobia. I hope the companies that use this agency take their business elsewhere. It's stunts like this that contribute to transsexual and homosexual homicides and suicides. This company has blood on their hands.

  2. MtFs have trouble with facial hair, something that shames us, haunts us, makes us embarrassed, and reminds us of what we are not. It's horrible to use this as a slant on an advertising gimmick, you should be charged with hate advertising.

  3. Wow, that was offensive. Having had a long career in advertising I have to say that was so pathetic and it such poor taste that they'll definitely lose more accounts than gain.

  4. Voice your complaints. Here is contact info for Mother, NY:
    phone: 212 254 2800

    List of clients:

    Blue Q
    Book Design
    Coca Cola
    Cumberland Packaging Corp.
    New Balance
    Newton Vineyard
    Sour Patch Kids
    Stella Artois
    Virgin Mobile

  5. Just sent:

    Hi there.

    I'm a transsexual. Or rather, I'm in the process of working towards becoming one. It's a really expensive process-- I'm about to fly to Texas and drop $4000 for two days of electrolysis, and that's just the first round. I get to go back at least five more times, but more likely about eight. I'm lucky; I can afford it. Most people working towards a male-to-female transition can't.

    So. Your promo, "Transsexual Barber Shop," is about as funny to me as making fun of the crooked teeth of poor children whose parents can't afford good orthodontics, or perhaps having a good laugh at the guy across from you on the bus who only has one leg and doesn't have the resources to afford a prothetic. It's a joke at the expense of those without means, and it's a cheap easy laugh. I'm glad you're in on the joke so you can enjoy it. I wonder if you have any transgendered or transsexual employees, friends, or family, and if you asked them to appear in the montage of styles to be part of the joke as well.

    You can do better than this.


  6. Thanks, Gina! BTW it looks like they've (that is, Mother) taken it off youtube... the embedded video doesn't play anymore.

  7. Dylan, I think you're right. This could either be seen as 'enlightenment' or a case of trying to hide something of which you're ashamed and think is going to bring grief. I'm suspecting the latter.

  8. This weekend I saw a video on Youtube from your company, I believe the video has since been removed. I have to say that not only was this on the poorest of taste, it was absolutely offensive. I work in branding and marketing for a multi-million dollar international business. I am also a trans woman. I was simply appalled at the content of the video and I am absolutely sure that had this video been made using ANY other community (gay men, Muslims, Asians, balding hipster dudes etc.) it would never have see the light of a monitor.

    This isn't simply a case of your company taking a "jab" at a group of people that share some qualities with me, personally. This is a case of horridly poor judgment, immensely poor timing, as well as heaping shame and ridicule on a group that is already marginalized. Do you realize that in your fine state, while gay men and lesbians are protected from job and housing discrimination, trans people can (and are) freely fired simply for being trans.

    You are in the business of image, of language, of ideas - you know that for a "joke" such as this to work it relies on knee-jerk social tropes. These tropes can be used with nuance to turn them on their sides and ultimately challenge the viewer's misconceptions. Unfortunately, this was not part of your plan. You made an easy joke out of a group that lacks access to basic housing, much less media to counter the message your firm sent. You knew full well the results of your video - or at least you should have known.. that is your job... right?



    It's still part of this montage on their website.

  10. Video removed is insufficient.
    It's already done harm.

    The way to make amends after doing harm is to do more good than you did harm.

    So that's what they must do. They have to do as much good to the people they harmed as they did bad, then do a bit extra. Nothing less than that can be sufficient.

  11. I got a follow-up email from Mother this morning apologizing for the video and any offense it caused. It was well-wrtitten and the email took ownership of the resulting offense, which is so rare in these days of "I'm sorry you took offense..." non-apologies.

    I've sent a message thanking them for removing it from youtube and pointing out that it still appears in the montage.

  12. Dylan, yes, evidently they sent out a form email apology. But Danielle is right that the video still exists at:

    It's at 2:09 of this collection of videos for their pr campaign.

    I would specifically prefer to hear their logic for creating this piece and know what their "creative/marketing process" was. Removing the video doesn't really get to what they were thinking when they bothered to make it and put it up and that's what I would like to have explained.

  13. I sent a followup email after the form letter was received. I asked specific questions about their thought process - no answer. I think their "apology" isn't as sincere as made to appear.

  14. I don't like the segment on Transsexuals either but I also think your over reacting as it is insulting to endangered animals, animals and a whole host of other sectors. It is just a stupid non pc advert campaign by a company which shows themselves as uncaring, immature, stupid and not really credible. The people pictured as 'transsexuals' are more likely to be CD in my opinion and this just further shows they never researched what they were doing. It denigrates Americans by showing them as gullible and believing in insect funerals and the rest. Don't give them publicity.

  15. Storm, I agree with you about the immature part. Not credible... I don't know, they're currently the one of the most successful ad agencies in the US (and their parent company... in the world). They have huge clients.

    In terms of giving them publicity... this little blog isn't really doing that. But I feel anyone doing media activism can't be afraid to critically speak up out of fear of publicizing a product, film or campaign. Yes, it might have an immediate impact of more immediate coverage (as it did with Ticked Off Trannies with Knives) but it has a more important cumulative impact of letting media know that a community is willing to stand up for itself when it comes to being exploited. This is done in drips and drabs and over many years... even decades, but it will ultimately have a profound impact. Not speaking out accomplishes a shorter term goal of possibly burying something but nothing in the long run.

  16. I agree that the ad agency is being irresponsible. They are obv going on the theory, 'no such thing as bad advertising'... In 50years, if we're still here, this will be looked on the same as we generally view discriminations against African Americans that were commonplace 50 years ago. It is so absurd that people cannot see how inhumane they act.


Any posts found to contain transphobic, homophobic, racist or sexist content will be deleted. Personal attacks will not be tolerated.