I’ve been pretty much glued to the Olympics this year. I’ve even been inspired to whip out the gym card and bust a few reps. What I have not been inspired to do is buy any P&G products, but that must be down to the fact that I don’t have any children. Procter and Gamble, self-proclaimed “Proud sponsors of Moms”, have had a pretty intense campaign in the lead up to and now during the London games, firmly planting their logo on every TV screen between programmes.
Now, granted the one with the little gymnast girl who perseveres to Spandau Ballet until she can jump across the pummel horse is DESPERATELY cute, the overwhelming message being delivered during every single ad break is that it is only mothers who are instrumental in their little champions success and that the value of their contribution to this success is measured by the amount of housework they do.
While P&G are clearly trying to pull at heart-strings (and it’s working- you go little gymnast!) I find these ads incredibly infuriating. Women are mothers. And mothers take care of children. And do an awful lot of cleaning. So far so stereotype after dated stereotype.
However the even more insulting flip side of this whole message is that fathers are essentially removed from having any role in child rearing.
Moms: We love you. Now stop watching TV and go do the washing-up.
While mothers are portrayed as cooking, cleaning and bringing children to training sessions fathers fail to even make an appearance in the series of adverts. Well done on a double-dose of sexism, Pampers! Clearly fathers and indeed the entire family of any Olympian will have made massive sacrifices to support their child’s dream, and they should have as much recognition.
Take Chad le Clos’s father on BBC after his son’s 200m Butterfly win. Barely able to contain his excitement at his son’s win he had to ask if he was live on air while gushing unabashedly about his “beautiful boy”.
Great Britain’s swimmer Hannah Miley stated that the last thing her father and coach says to her when she gets into the water is that he loves her.
These examples (greatly limited by my only viewing the swimming so far) shouldn’t even be necessary as I’m sure many athletes have loving and supportive fathers. And yet, P&G is saying that only women care for children and that only Moms are to be thanked for gold medals.
They also seem to greatly overeste the importance of clean gym kits in ratio to performance times. Sure, they’re important, but so is support from your family- no matter what family unit you come from.