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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Want to Go to Paris? Don't Have a Kid.

Commericials are so ridiculous in general that the one I saw last night hardly even bears mention, but it stuck with me, not only for it's blatant exclusionary tactics (which, in a commercial, where your audience is women, and a large percentage of that audience, would, by nature of things, have children, can't be a particularly clever thing to do), but also for its sheer length.

So, after my babies were tucked away in their beds, most definitely not sleeping, laughter and shouts erupting from the room every few minutes, and every few minutes more, a plaintive plea: "Mommy?  Moooooommmmmmy!" I settled down to watch a bit of television (After Lately, actually.  You should watch it.)

After five minutes of the show, the commercial break pops up, and I go to resettle the kids. I plop myself back down on the sofa to see images of happy young women -- every once in a while, a happy young couple -- flitting back and forth on the screen, wearing fashionable things, and being presented with "life choices."

A stork comes by with a purple satchel.  The beautiful woman laughs at him and shakes her head. She moves on to a picture of the Eiffel Tower and instead picks out the note "Trip to Paris."  Another woman, this one in stylish glasses and skinny jeans, looks at house after house after house, the implication being that she can afford it because she doesn't have a child.  Which is why we should all buy this particular brand of birth control.

The commercial goes on and on; it's never-ending.  It says, look at this scenario that's better without kids. Look at that one; you can't do that one with kids.  See all of these smiling faces? It's because they don't have kids.  Know why they don't have kids? Because they buy and use our birth control.

Oh. Okay.

Except that having a kid doesn't mean you'll never get to Paris.  If you try to do it with toddlers, you're a braver woman than I, but last time I checked (I hope!) that phase lasts for just a few years.  Having a kid doesn't prevent you from buying a home you would like.  In fact, it may push you in that direction, who knows?

But, I get their point. I understand what they were going for, and it's not a notion that's completely without merit. Without kids, there is a lot that you can do, it's true.

What really gets me is the length of time they spent on this one concept.  The commercial ran at least a minute. That's a really long time in TV. And I got the point after 15 seconds. 30 seconds was pushing it.  It was only after the full minute that my annoyance and my resolution to never switch to their product set in.

Birth control is used by so many people for so many different reasons.  Why not include the woman with totally intense cramps (in a picture, of course...going with the commercial, she'd be smiling and lovely, over-the-moon about her choice of BC), or the woman has a family already and is satisfied with where she is in life? By using just ten seconds to show those two situations, that brand of birth control widens their audience probably three-fold. As it stands, they alienate at least half and maybe more of the birth-control users out there.  Foolish marketing, in my opinion.

Of course, I'm probably over-reacting and here's why.  Right after that commercial, a spot came on for Enfamil Formula, showing a harried mother in an oversized shirt feeding her baby a bottle.

Oh, television, what's with the one-two punch?  "If you didn't use that birth control we were just talking about, and you look like this woman instead of those other women, here's a product for you."

Well, E, thank you for not leaving mothers behind in your advertising.

Please vote for Tales of an Unlikely Mother on We're number 15, just scroll down and click on the thumbs up.


  1. heh. Yeah, a lot of commercials are insipid and love to throw moms under the harried bus ;) There is a commercial for a brand of IUD where the lady's with her kids (who are Being A Handful so she's a little frazzled) and the voice over is her saying, "oh boy, two is ENOUGH for me!"... then she's watching them be sweet, and you hear her "think": "Two kids are enough... for now..." (of course, this is while the ad extolls on how easy it would be to remove said device if you decide you want to be pregnant again).

    But yeah, what is with the "your life is OVER when you have kids"? not all that lovely a sentiment for the kids to hear either... yeah, your mom and dad have no life since they have to take care of you!

  2. They can have their trips to Paris. They'll never know what it's like to get a big hug from a toddler that says "I love you, Mommy." and I will. I'd much rather have that than a vacation with a bunch of crepe-eating snobs. In fact, I can cook crepes at home and feed them to my kids IN MY PAJAMAS. That's way better.

  3. Ha ha! I actually have been to Paris with toddlers! Only the plane ride sucks... and the jet lag isn't as easy to get over. But we did it a lot... I think 6 times in 6 years (3 kids). Just cracks me up, the things ad campaigns use to get people to buy their products!

  4. I hate that commerical, too!! I think it was just too much, like you said. I agree, throw in a woman turning away from "painful cramps" and buying a "pain-free vacation" or something (idk, I'm not in marketing) or a woman with children smiling and chosing "my family is complete" and it would work really well in the context of the commerical.

  5. I fully support birth control advertising that targets teenagers in that way, but yeah - it is a little insulting from a mother's perspective.

    Let's face it, we are very rarely represented in the media in a positive light ...unless its a Mr Clean commercial, THEN moms are THE BEST. *rolling my eyes*

  6. I just saw the commercial again and thought of this post. And I have to say I'm disturbed by the female friend who steals the "boyfriend" right from under her friend's nose.
    That entire commercial just seems off.



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