By MARY SMITHWICK
UNLIKE the majority of the population, I have yet to upgrade to a fancy-dan television package to allow me record, pause and crucially, fast- forward.
So although I’m not a great telly- watcher, I probably end up watching more advertisements than most.
Given that so many of those advertisements make my blood pressure rise, that’s not a good thing.
There’s one in particular that makes me either switch channel, or scream at the television. The same television is on its last legs and won’t make it to the digital era, and the day will come when I throw a shoe or vase or brick at it.
Anyway, the ad involves a mum, who must be availing of some kind of chemical intervention, grinning wildly as she happily prepares dinner.
With a demented smile on her face, the mum happily “shakes” the family’s dinner to coat it with some delicious flavouring. She looks nuts, but that’s not the annoying part.
Seconds later, they are sitting down happily together, with her smug husband telling her she’s “faaaantastic”.
Honestly, I would take that plastic bag, filled with his dinner, and plonk it over his head. But that’s just me. As for the irritating kids sitting at the table, following the dad’s lead in patronisation — it’d be the last dinner I’d cook them.
In advertising land, Mum simply happily shakes her curls at the compliment.
I’m aware that not everyone finds the ad as annoying as I do — just as I realise that I find the “I’m Yer Wan” insurance ads in a butcher’s aren’t to everyone’s taste, even if they crack me up.
But this particular ad is representative of an entire genre of advertising aimed at normally intelligent women whom the industry decide become bumbling idiots as soon as they have kids.
I’m not the first person to point out that Proctor and Gamble proclaiming themselves to be proud sponsors of mums is a bit rich.
I’ve checked with a few mums that I know, and it turns out that none of them can remember agreeing to any kind of a sponsorship deal — but they’re happy for their agents to do some retrospective negotiating if
To be fair to Proctor and Gamble, as part of the sponsors of mums promotion, the company is giving money to a number of good causes. Plus, some of the ads are rather touching… but the concept still annoys me.
My annoyance boils down to the fact that advertising aimed at women has changed very little in several decades.
Advertisements for cleaning products, washing-up liquids and the like still only ever seem to feature women doing the work. When men make an appearance, it’s usually in the context of the product being so simple, even a man could use it on his annual attempt to help out with the housework, ho ho ho.
The statistics tell us what we already know to be true — women, whether they work outside the home or not, whether they are the primary caregiver for children or not, are the ones who do most of the housework.
While it may be true, it is not something that we should applaud, encourage and make jokes about.
It should be a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of a bathroom cupboard full of cleaning products is in need of a man that pulls his weight around the house.
Instead, men and women alike still regard the vital business of keeping a household ticking over and rearing a family as almost exclusively women’s work — and few of us put the correct value on that work either.
It’s not a healthy situation, and more of us should be standing up and pointing that out — rather than chuckling at sexist advertising that reinforces the unfair status quo.
Given that women are the ones who buy the bulk of these products, then we only have ourselves to blame if companies continue to get away with such patronising advertising — as long as it’s working, why should they change the formula?