Debate Magazine

Black Holes of Davida: Togo's

Posted on the 10 November 2011 by Starofdavida
Black Holes of Davida: Togo'sTogo’s, a fast food sandwichrestaurant chain often combined with Dunkin Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, recentlyreleased a new ad campaign titled “Better than a Breadwich.” In the commercial(which can be viewed here), two claymationwomen walking down the street are flashed by a sandwich. At first, they seemtraumatized, but then they laugh it off. As the sandwich runs away, a voiceoversays, “Don’t settle for puny,” then sells the new Togo’s sandwich.
This commercial is extremelyproblematic on many levels. It completely negates the fear, anxiety, andhumiliation most women feel when they are subjected to street harassment,especially an outright illegal act like flashing. The ad implies that oncewomen get over the surprise of street harassment, they’ll judge the “quality”of their harasser and base their reaction to him on that. Because this sandwichwas “puny,” they laughed. If the sandwich was big and meaty, would they havesmiled and flirted instead? This is NOT the reality of street harassment. Itdoesn’t matter what the harasser looks like - women will be upset when they’reflashed, or whistled at, or groped, or otherwise harassed.
It’s also extremely stereotypical.The sandwich, at least in my opinion, seems like a stereotypical Hispanicgangster-type: hanging around in an alley next to a liquor store, with amustache, wearing sunglasses, preying on non-Hispanic women. (The only twistedlittle positive this ad has is that it portrays one of the women asAfrican-American. A common misconception about street harassment is that onlywhite women are victimized.)
The saddest part of this is that Togo’s justdoesn’t get how offensive it is to women. Renae Scott, the vice president ofbranding and marketing at Togo’s,described the ad as “edgy.” Ignoring the fact that using the word “edgy” todescribe any commercial about a pork sandwich is asinine, does she really thinkstreet harassment is edgy, trendy, cutting edge? Does she want someone to comeover to her while she’s walking on the street with a friend and flash her? Doesshe want that to happen to her friends? Mother? Grandmother? Aunts? Nieces?Daughters?
So tell Togo’s that youfind this ad offensive! You can email them here and say:
I find your recent “Betterthan a Breadwich” commercial highly offensive. It trivializes streetharassment, a serious and traumatizing crime that shouldn’t be taken lightly ormocked in a commercial. I strongly urge you to pull this campaign andsubstitute it with something that doesn’t poke fun at women who have been flashedand otherwise harassed on the street.
I sent them an email incomplaint, and they responded:
We wanted to make sure you knewthat we received your comment regarding our recent TV commercial. It is neverour intention to offend anyone.  Our spot was meant to be fun and quirkyand to make fun of sandwiches that are all bread and no meat.  I will makesure our Marketing team hears your concerns. I truly appreciate your feedbackand will pass it along to our Brand Marketing team.
Make sure they hear from as manypeople as possible. There’s strength in numbers!
For now, I dub Togo's an inductee into the Black Holes of Davida - people who let us feminists down by advocating misogyny, sexism, abuse, and other anti-woman thoughts and actions. 

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