Legal Sea Foods, the Boston-based restaurant chain that has poked fun at religion in the past, is now trying to joke about another taboo topic — politics — by unleashing a poorly-thought out ad mocking Hillary Clinton. The ad makes no mention of any of the foods on the menu at Legal Sea Foods, instead showing a photo of the candidate alongside the words, "We have a term for cold fish. Sushi."
The ad also includes a photo of Legal Sea Foods president Roger Berkowitz, with the mock campaign slogan: "Berkowitz for President. #feeltheberk"
What a miss for Legal. Worn misogynist tropes aren't clever. Neither is alienating your woman customer base. pic.twitter.com/r5JAAQkHtI— Devra First (@devrafirst) July 25, 2016
The ad has already received a fair amount of backlash on social media, with Twitter users imploring the CEO to apologize and to fire the company's ad agency.
Just tried to call #legalseafoods HQ to register disgust at hateful misogyny in Globe ad today. No one home. #feeltheberk #sexismisnotfunny— Kent Greenfield (@Kentgreenfield1) July 25, 2016
#feeltheberk as a customer who eats at Legal's weekly I find this morning's sexist ad grossly offensive. What could you be thinking?— Karen Lieff (@karenlieff) July 25, 2016
It's just the latest in Legal Sea Foods' series of campaign-themed ads that launched back in March; previous versions included nonsequiturs like, "If we build a wall on the border, who will eat our delicious fish tacos?"
Another ad, unveiled earlier this month, attempted to poke fun at both Trump and Clinton:
Another funny ad in the Boston Herald by #LegalSeaFoods #feeltheberk pic.twitter.com/vhmUKPjXhi— BranchDesign (@BranchDesign) July 20, 2016
Berkowitz has been lambasted for his company's ads in the past. Back in 2008, he got heat from trolley conductors for an ad that proclaimed, "This conductor has a face like a halibut." He apologized in a radio ad, albeit sarcastically, by saying that some conductors actually resemble flounders, groupers, or hammerhead sharks.
But while those seemed like mostly harmless attempts at political edginess (or, um, trolley conductor humor), this latest Clinton-targeted edition is troubling for its decidedly misogynistic bent: While it can be used to refer to a heartless individual, the term "cold fish" is more colloquially used to call out a "frigid" woman.
An ad poking fun at Clinton for her email server transgressions or foreign policy is one thing, but falling back on archaic sexist stereotypes to insult one of America's most experienced politicians is something else entirely.