Wall Street Journal
Commentary by Steven B. Goldsmith, April 2002

In 2001 and 2002, the Wall Street Journal routinely ran two commercials that denigrates short men.

In the first commercial, two men are shown standing in split screen, each in front of his office door. One is tall, thin and handsome. The other is short and slightly overweight. The narration begins:

Two eager CEOs. One encouraged his employees to read the Wall Street Journal. The other did not. Let's join them for their five year anniversaries and see what happened.

The rest of the commercial goes on to show the success of the tall CEO's company is. After five years they have a hundred employees and are about to expand into Europe. The short CEO's company has only a few employees who have had to endure pay cuts and loss of benefits. The short CEO is shown being a stupid manager. He forces his employees to do calisthenics and stands by the water cooler making sure everyone is working.

While promoting the newspaper, the commercial perpetuates the stereotype that short people can not be effective leaders. Research has shown that a height "glass ceiling" is very much in effect in today's large corporations and the commercial only helps to strengthen it.

The second commercial starts with a short man who wakes up late for work. He is flustered and confused. Racing to the office, he picks up a Wall Street Journal from a newsstand to protect himself from a driving rain. He barley squeezes into an elevator before the doors close. A tall women executive looks down at him and sees the Wall Street Journal under his arm. After agreeing that it is a life saver, she asks him to come up to her office to interview for a VP position for which he is clearly not qualified.

It is a shame that neither commercial puts the short person in a good light. They are neither successful nor admirable. The first one is a clear looser and the second will not succeed.