After nearly 18 months of hiatus over a nasty contract dispute, the critically acclaimed cable television program "Mad Men" returns for its fifth season on March 25. And to promote the show, the AMC network is employing ads atop taxicabs that say, simply, "Adultery is Back."
"How risque! How scandalous! How kinda lame," Richard Lawson wrote last week for the Atlantic Wire in a short piece titled "Adultry is advertising's hottest trend." "Not that we're some creaky old traditionalists who value monogamy above all else, but making that of all things the selling point for a brilliant, beautiful show seems a little silly."
Instead of pulling his punch, Lawson could have gone farther. Employing adultery as the basis for an ad campaign is not only silly, but also shallow and inconsiderate when one considers the sheer swath of misery that adultery leaves in its wake every day in America. Besides nearly universal acceptance in American society that cheating on one's spouse (at least in real life) is morally wrong, National Marriage Project director Bradford Wilcox noted in a 2010 interview with National Review Online, "Family breakdown inhibits the accumulation of assets, increases stress and depression and raises the mortality rate."
In an article recapping the best and worst television ads from this year's Super Bowl, The New Yorker's Ben Greenman linked to Lawson's article and tossed in an offhand swipe at advertisers using adultery, highlighting the shallow assumption behind both. He wrote, "advertisers are using adultery more than ever, which makes sense, because they operate on the same principle: What you have isn’t as good as what you could have."