Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Gonna bag me a banker

    My letter to Graham Beale at Nationwide.
Dear Sir,
    I wish to register my concern at your recent television commercial featuring David Walliams and Matt Lucas of Little Britain fame in their guise as the transvestite characters Florence and Emily.
    I feel you have been misled by your advertising people on two counts.
First, these particular characters are grossly offensive to the transgendered community with their grotesque portrayal of the worst possible stereotype. These are not a drag act portraying genetic female characters such as Lilly Savage or Brenda and Audrey from the Bounty/Plenty kitchen towel adverts, these are a pair of comedians seeking cheap laughs at the expense of a vulnerable and marginalised group that does not need such negative mainstream portrayals of themselves forced on the public at large. Because of these idiots, transgendered and transsexual people in the real world have to endure a new set of insults, and now you are helping perpetuate them.
    Second, I do not think you are aware just how many transgendered people will see these adverts and be offended by your brand. You might be thinking “So what? A few transsexuals are a bit hot under the collar, a storm in a teacup, really!”. To which I'd answer this: the transsexuals who are living in the female role are merely the tip of the iceberg. Take a look around your office, or better still take a look around your busiest branch. Your customers, that is. I can't speak for the women, but as many as ten percent of the men will have transgendered tendencies. If you saw me in the street for example you wouldn't give me a second look, yet though I look like just another happily married bloke I'm transgendered and have the medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria to prove it. There are a lot of people out there with the same condition who like me for whatever reason can't transition to a female role, and when you add in the far higher numbers of part-time transvestites, genderqueers and other groups within our community you are looking at a huge number of potential customers. For instance I am a member of a couple of organisations for transgendered people who number their membership in the tens of thousands. And that is only in my particular segment of the community. I've even heard it said by the statisticians among us that there are more gender variant people than there are people with red hair. We walk among you, and you just don't see us. As you look around you ask yourself this: not “Are any of these guys trans?”, but “Which of these guys are trans?”, because I guarantee some of them will be and they won't be the ones you'd expect.
    In conclusion, by hiring Lucas and Walliams to do this advert your advertising people have offended a far larger unseen potential customer base than you realise, and have firmly associated that offence with your brand.
    I'd like to urge you to do the decent thing and dump this despicable advert. If you wish to broaden your mind on the transgendered community as a whole, I attend your local transgender support group in Swindon and would be happy to take you to one of its meetings.  

Yours faithfully,   (Me-as-bloke)


  1. A great letter Jenny. I hope you will let us hear the response too.


  2. Excellent letter. As Halle said, I hope you'll share the response.

  3. V good letter. Hitting where it hurts. I got my letter of ackowlegement from the ASA this morning. No pasaran!

  4. Thanks everybody.

    It's tempting to sit here and imagine yourself as the protagonist in an XKCD comic, "Aha! I will smite thee where it hurts with my trusty keyboard!", but the main thing this will do is add just one more number to a statistic as it is read my a minion, placed in a dusty file and responded to with a form letter full of meaningless PR fluff.

    But I figure it's worth doing and making a coherent point about their business, because I'm sure whichever PR bunny handles it will put together a marketing report for the bossman, and that will contain one or two sample letters.

    Lord knows what I'll do in the extremely unlikely event that he takes me up on my offer in the final paragraph!

  5. Very nice letter :)


  6. Well said, Jenny.

    Who's next in the Offensive Stereotypes stakes? Fagin? Stepin Fetchit?

    I never found Little Britain funny. Puerile and oddly self-loathing, yes.

    Cat XX

  7. Thanks again ladies.

    Some of Little Britain was funny - the first time you saw it.

    Like League of Gentlemen, once you've seen their one joke, you've seen the next six serieses to come.

    I should have made the point that we are under-represented in matters such as this because so many of us are in the closet. Being closeted doesn't make you less offended though.

    Damn, now I look forward to a week of thinking up killer arguments only after having posted the letter.

  8. Lisa in Raleigh26 May 2010 at 14:41

    Way to go! Never under estimate the value of sending a actual letter of complaint. It will be read and most likely you will get a responce. While I am a fan of e-mail communications, as a rule these never get pass a low level screener, who only tabs for and against on issues.

    Look forward to reading the responce.

  9. Nice letter. I am intrigued to see if you get a responce.

  10. I should have said earlier, I'll post the response as and when I get it.

    Now, for the benefit of non-Brits who I've realised will have no clue what I was talking about: Here are Brenda and Audrey.

  11. I perhaps ironically saw the ad during the Alexis Arequette documentary. It was a dreadful advert and posters are in the window of every branch. :(

  12. Oh dear, does timing get any more unfortunate!

  13. Excellent letter Jenny - well done on sending this. I agree that an old fashioned letter rather than an email has far more impact.

    I hadn't seen the advert because I don't have a television so it's not just your overseas visitors who are happy for the link!

  14. I should add a link for those who haven't seen it to Dru's billboard from yesterday.

  15. That's the price I pay for commenting before I click... I was puzzled by why you found the Brenda and Audrey advert offensive then the penny slowly dropped when I realised that the ad had nothing to do with banking.

    The tagline "Proud to be different" is truly the icing on the cake.


  16. No, Brenda and Audrey are my heroines! If I could only pass like they do! :)