Get Used to Broadview Security's You-Might-Be-Raped Ads -- They Work

Last Updated Feb 24, 2010 8:59 PM EST

Broadview Security (CFL) makes those manipulative TV ads in which a woman home alone is terrorized by a home-invasion-burglar-cum-rapist. Luckily the alarms go off and -- thanks to Broadview! -- the cops are on their way. This week, the company formerly known as Brinks Home Security seems to have finally annoyed enough members of the media to warrant "controversy" status.

Now everyone has an opinion, on everything from whether the ads are too irrationally scary, to whether they treat women as ineffective damsels in distress, to the company's careful racial casting.

Broadview's newest ad features a woman saying goodbye to her guests as they leave the party she's just hosted. It seems she hit it off with hunky "A.J.," whom she just met. They exchange an awkward-cute goodbye but seconds later -- crash! -- he's punching through the glass of her back door intent on serial-killing her!

The message, ably distilled by's Sarah Haskill, is:

Dear Women: You are never safe. Seriously. We mean it. Hugs n' kisses, Broadview Security.
Broadview's YouTube page is a fantastic homage to a single genre: The suburban terror myth in which every woman is a victim waiting to happen, especially when there's no man around. Every ad -- there are 11 of them -- is the same, except that they become increasingly elaborate with each new execution: A woman is living peacefully in her gigantic suburban McMansion when, suddenly, a hooded psychopath -- ex-boyfriend? Stalker? Random skell? -- smashes through a window to wreak havoc.

The window-smashing is crucial because it activates the Broadview alarm. Help is on the way and a man -- it's always a man -- at Broadview HQ is on the phone calming the poor girl down. (The burglar is always white, by the way. Broadview is too smart to go there.) My favorite is the one in which the daughter is left alone in the house by her parents before the villain arrives, if only because it hews most closely to the scary-movie oeuvre it apes. The only thing missing is the part where the Broadview man informs her that the call is coming from ... inside ... the ... house!

They're all modern-day corporate fairy tales, except instead of a knight in shining armor arriving to fend off the dragon it's some dude in a call-center in Cleveland. (As patriarchal myths go, the older one seems rather more appealing than the new one.)

It's easy to scoff. Smart people know we live in an era of historic low crime rates, right? But while Broadview drives us nuts with its late-night mini-slasher flicks, they're having the last laugh. The ads work: Q4 2009 sales are up 7.5 percent to $145.4 million.