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North Suburban Volo Auto Museum Runs Bad Lines With Weirdly Gendered Valentine’s Day Ad

Image from Valentine’s Day campaign for Volo Auto Museum, via their FB page.

Volo Auto Museum (and Antique Mall) out in the tiny north suburban hamlet of Volo was a destination spot for me as a kid growing up near the IL/WI border. It was always a treat to go see all the amazing cars I recognized from my favorite movies and TV shows. Volo always seemed to have all my favorites- the Batmobile, ECTO-1 from Ghostbusters, and KITT from Knight Rider. I’d happily pull on my mom’s hands and drag her from one famous car to the next- because even as a very small girl, I loved cars. A lot has been happening at Volo in the past year or so, with their feature series on the History Channel rocketing them into the view of a larger audience.

It’s not been without its problems, though, as recently the museum has heaped criticism upon itself with its President’s Day event and promotion, centering around their planned acquisition of a former limo belonging to Donald Trump, where visitors would receive 2 souvenir postcards- one for them, featuring the smiling face of the current head of state, and one that the museum would have them fill out and subsequently deliver to the White House. It wasn’t even necessarily that the museum was acquiring the now presidential vehicle- Volo’s business, after all, is in historically significant cars – but the way they were choosing to present it. It was argued that one could write whatever they want to the White House, but it still seemed like a Trump leaning event in a world where Trump’s presidency is the source of great division. It seemed like a situation in which Volo would have been better off staying apolitical, or at least making sure they didn’t appear on one side or the other, and do what they do best- give people a fun experience with vintage memorabilia and call it a day. 

That’s why, when I was doing a little research on the museum this morning in preparation for another article, I was shocked to see the tone-deaf, needlessly gendered Valentine’s Day ad you’re seeing at the top of this post.  

“She loves Jared. He loves Volo.” 

It made me sad. It made me angry, and it’s not okay. As a girl, I barely glanced at my Barbies, but spent long hours with my Hot Wheels and Micro Machines and when I was a older, a Jeep Cherokee I spent lots of time and money tinkering with and taking on offroad adventures. To be honest, I feel a little betrayed by an institution that instilled in me my love of cars and holds so many cherished memories. Why choose to advertise this way? Maybe they thought it was a chuckle and I’m sure others do, too. But maybe, as with the Trumpian President’s Day promo, they’d be better off thinking more before they speak. Because while there’s nothing wrong with liking jewelry, or even with dreaming of a pretty bauble for Valentine’s Day, there’s absolutely no reason to dumb it down like this. This author, in fact, would much rather spend a day wandering through my childhood and see all the amazing classic cars, than slip into a crowded strip mall store and sift through diamonds. The point, plain and simple, is that anyone, of any age, gender, orientation, might have a lifelong love of cars. Even us jewelry-obsessed females. 

Why divide an audience in any way? This ad’s promoting a two-for-one by implying that one of those two people doesn’t really want to be there, the same way that their Trump-centric President’s Day ad divides their audience along political lines. For a place that’s “fun for the whole family” and wants to be “where memories are created and traditions begin” with “an experience the whole family can enjoy” why not make a more concerted effort to include everyone, regardless of party line or gender, and stop reducing people to their lowest common denominators.  

It’s disheartening, disappointing and certainly makes me feel less affection for a place that just doesn’t seem that into me on Valentine’s Day. My message to Volo, should they be inclined to respond is simply this: Do better. Be better. Don’t dumb it down.  

I’ll be waiting. 

6 replies »

  1. She loves Jared. I had to read that a few times before it sunk in. She is allowed to run around and flaunt her lust after something named after another man and beg and lust over something with ridiculously inflated prices just because SHE is a SHE. He loves She anyway. He loves Volo. Did I read that right? A MAN’S FEELINGS WERE ACTUALLY ACKNOWLEDGED IN PRINT for a “holiday” that so totally is thrust upon men with often unrealistic expectations and budgets. HE… is considered… and something HE loves could be a great gift for She to buy HIM. Personally, I think that is a pretty considerate and well thought out advertisement. Each can have what they love AND they can love each other. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  2. Thank you for writing this article about the great experiences you’ve had at our museum and your opinion of our marketing strategy. The additional exposure you have brought to our museum is greatly appreciated. We have returned the favor by posting your article to our Facebook page for additional readership. As for the content of the criticized ad, we don’t necessarily agree with your views but we’ve asked the public to comment with their opinions so we can gauge how “the people” feel.

    • Thanks for your response, Brian! It’s nice to be able to have a thoughtful conversation about the ad, and bring this issue to the public. Thoughtful, civil conversation is what we want to encourage here at Third Coast, and we appreciate your bringing attention to this issue via FB.

      • After reading this article, I’ll admit that I didn’t agree with it and it upset me. But then I thought, well, maybe we were in the wrong. If an author is willing to write an article about it and publish it in the media, maybe there is something to it, something we were not seeing that truly made it offensive. This lead to my decision to post the article on Facebook asking the question “Do you find the promotion to be lighthearted as intended or do you agree it is in bad taste?” in order to get a non-bias and fair response as to how the mainstream public perceived it. The feedback is posted below. In conclusion, I would say this is an issue we can agree to disagree on. Does the author have the right to be offended over the issue, of course. However was it offensive enough to warrant media attention? Probably not.

        Patti Weissinger I laughed when I read it! Some people just can’t be happy unless they are criticizing others. Keep up the funnies, it’s refreshing. I’d just follow Jared to Volo & be happy. ?
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        Kelly Cramm
        Kelly Cramm I don’t think that is is in bad taste at all she loves her man and he loves cars which can come around in a full circle as she loves cars cuz she loves her man. You do things for the one you love as in the Jared commercial he buys her jewelry because h…See More
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        Angie Bello
        Angie Bello Simply put, whoever that is that wrote the article has NO SENSE OF HUMOR. It’s a promotion, not offensive and not in poor taste.
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        Lila Lucy
        Lila Lucy You can never win these days. Some one will always find a negative. I love it but I enjoy Volo the same if not more than my guy but still I wasn’t upset at this posting…. Honestly my heart skipped a beat at the bel air and then I read what it said. People are just silly today and feel the need to complain when there’s no reason to
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        Tom Peck
        Tom Peck My wife prefers Kay. ? I find nothing wrong with the promo.
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        Burch Seymour
        Burch Seymour I remember an old saw that goes “some people would complain if you hung them with a NEW rope.” Hmm, maybe that’s not exactly the same sentiment, but the point remains, some people live to suck the joy out of life. I think the ad is quite amusing and, to me, not in the least bit offensive or improper.
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        Julie Gilbert
        Julie Gilbert The only thing disheartening and disappointing is that this woman spent so much time writing up this article and then we all felt forced to waste our valuable time defending it. Thank goodness you were able to turn to social media for the common sense opinion! God bless Volo, President Trump and the USA, where she is free to voice her opinion, silly as it may be!
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        Linda Fister Brancato
        Linda Fister Brancato You can’t please all the people all the time! I love Volo!! Keep up the great job you do! ?
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        Phyllis Carlson
        Phyllis Carlson I wasn’t familiar with the commercial for Jarod , so I wouldn’t have noticed. Probably not a good idea to use the same wording that someone, who probably paid an advertising agency to come up with, for your own promotion. Other than that, it was a cute idea.
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        David Griffin
        David Griffin Unfortunately in everyday advertising, someone COULD BE offended. Myself? I either think an ad is good or just dumb. My wife doesn’t want flowers or jewelry either, but she knows I love cars. She thought this was funny and so do I!
        People need to stop being offended by advertising. Tell your team…Great Job!
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        Bob Hack
        Bob Hack The people complaining would want you to do sensitive training. I say there should be OVERsensitivity training for them. I’ve seen SO much worse. Keep doing a great job of promoting Volo Auto Museum!
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        Judi Thomas
        Judi Thomas Love it❤❤❤❤
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        Tony Maraffino
        Tony Maraffino I don’t like the promo. But hey it’s just my opinion. And by the way, i miss your TV show. Found it very interesting. Thanks
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        Tom Peterson
        Tom Peterson So it would have been ok if the ad ha said ‘She loves White Castle?’ Get a grip. It’s a cute ad with good artwork!
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        Chivis Martinez
        Chivis Martinez This specific person who wrote this article already was offended by the Trump Limo. It seems as if she piggy backed on your recent Jared / Volo ad to vent some more. This ad is not offensive. Who cares if not all woman like jewelry or not. Not all men …See More
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        Danny Biddinger
        Danny Biddinger I thought it was funny, no issues here.
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        Nicole Antinori-Loqui
        Nicole Antinori-Loqui What’s the issue? How is it in bad taste?? Who complains about a BOGO promotion? So many questions.
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        Jennie Fisher
        Jennie Fisher I see absolutely nothing wrong with your promo. I, like the author of the article, grew up playing with Matchbox cars. I had my Barbies and My Little Ponies too, but I loved cars! My brother had a Knight Rider big wheel that he hardly got to ride becau…See More
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        Sandy Pietka Miller
        Sandy Pietka Miller Ugh! Volo keep doing what you’re doing. Your good and your supporters will stay with you. Can’t please everybody all the time.
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        Dan Ferrell
        Dan Ferrell I like the post. See to issue with it.
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        Tara Biesiada
        Tara Biesiada I personally don’t see a problem with the promotion! I think it’s awesome!
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        Mary Granberg Roach
        Mary Granberg Roach No worries.
        Was funny actually.
        Too many offended people in this world for no good reasons.
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        Laura Lindemulder
        Laura Lindemulder I don’t see a problem with it at all. People over react and over think things way too much.
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        Geri Wilson
        Geri Wilson Stereotypical yes, dumbing down no. Every Father’s Day they promote what? Ties, beer and sports. Does my husband get offended because he never wears ties, doesn’t drink beer and is not a sports fanatic? Nope. Do I get offended every Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day because I don’t care to wear or receive jewelry or flowers as a gift. Nope. Honestly it’s cute, stereotypical advertising.
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        Jessica Andrews Willcut
        Jessica Andrews Willcut She loves Jared. I had to read that a few times before it sunk in. She is allowed to run around and flaunt her lust after something named after another man and beg and lust over something with ridiculously inflated prices just because SHE is a SHE….See More
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        Marie Hartell Markowski
        Marie Hartell Markowski Some people…?
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        Larry Skellion
        Larry Skellion Sad the “always offended” ones cry the loudest. Nothing wrong with your ad. Anyone with more than a few functioning brain cells realized the play on words. Ultimately you have a business to run and have to deal with the negative tantrums of that group. Best of luck, sad that’s how it is today…
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        Dale Mellor
        Dale Mellor Yeah, im not seeing it a “dumbing down” as the author suggests. The original tagline for Jared can be seen as even more offensive if you want to get that picky. ….like she couldn’t go to Jered herself….. keep being creative, Volo. I hope to visit soon….
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        Kendra Sarpolis
        Kendra Sarpolis I don’t see there being anything wrong with that most guys love car’s an girls love jewelry. I love the volo auto museum 2
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        Michael Sanford
        Michael Sanford Didn’t bother me. My girlfriend loves Jared and Volo! We enjoy looking at the cars, and the antique malls! It’s a great way for any couple to spend an afternoon.
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        Jim Davis
        Jim Davis The promotion was fine ! Some people won’t like ANYTHING !
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        Marina Povich
        Marina Povich I don’t see a problem at all, bunch of whiny babies complaining about everything these days. I’m surprised people aren’t calling for today’s Fat Tuesday to be changed as well. Love Volo Auto Museum. ❤️
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        Nicole Matsas Torres
        Nicole Matsas Torres If u said something about a girl liking cars, someone loving jewelry would’ve gotten offended. U can’t win. People just like to complain. Nothing wrong with the ad it’s funny
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        Arthur Hazen
        Arthur Hazen I didn’t see a problem with the ad.. people just need to settle down.
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        Michelle Singh
        Michelle Singh I don’t see any problem with how the promotion was presented. Their are to many people who over think everything and act as if it was to then personally.
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        Sam T. Jensen
        Sam T. Jensen I don’t think you intended to single out men or women. It’s just a funny little tag line that’s parodying the Jared line.

        It’s not like it’s Men’s Day or you’re saying women don’t like cars. It’s meant to be funny, lighthearted. The author clearly doesn’t have a sense of humor or common sense.
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        Cathy Fischer
        Cathy Fischer The article has a point, but don’t read too much into it..as a woman though,, it did make me pause a bit because only piece of jewelry I wear is my wedding ring. I remind my husband all the time during Valentines not to buy me jewelry..not that I’m not…See MoreManage
        Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and shoes
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        Jason Conrad
        Jason Conrad Good promo. I got the connection. Philly has a similar one for Stephen Singer”. Theirs is “I HATE STEPHEN SINGER”. We’re nicer in the Midwest
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        Rodney Denk
        Rodney Denk I don’t see any problem with how the promotion was presented, I guess some people will find issues no matter how good the intention.
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        Terri Lewis
        Terri Lewis I don’t see any problem with it. Some people are offended by everything.
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        Sam Preston
        Sam Preston I liked the promo! I thought it was cute! I’ve been begging my husband to take me to the museum (we live about 2 hours away) and this promo doesn’t change that. I’m into both jewelry AND classic cars and am not “offended” or “hurt” and to be honest, this article is bringing more attention to you guys!
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  3. Did the author have a deadline and nothing better to write about? Disappointment in an ad that is geared towards the majority of their demographic? Isn’t that what advertising is about? As a girl who enjoys cars I’m not blind to see the audience at car shows is mostly men.

  4. Lol. A snowflake “author” who is rattled because the museum had a car President Trump once had. The emotional abuse she must have endured from this must be terrible, and this is not okay!
    #metoo

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