The hardest Job in the world is the best Job in the world,” was the sole message from Proctor and Gambler’s 2012 Olympic commercial. Their “Thank you, Mom” campaign was their way of voicing their appreciation for moms all over the world. The commercial is a beautiful testament to moms around the world who have helped their children through the grueling daily grind toward becoming an Olympic athlete.
It follows the lives of various athletes as they grow up, paying special attention to the efforts their mothers put forth in helping them reach their goals. The efforts displayed were refreshingly relatable- house chores, schlepping, cheering at the sidelines, pep talks- things that most parents of athletes, Olympic or not, do on a daily basis. By the end of the ad, each kid has gotten older and made it to the Olympics. Upon victory, his or her first reaction is to thank Mom, often in tears.
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One mom was watching from home, the implied message being that she couldn’t afford to make the trip. Nevertheless the champion looks towards the TV, making a gesture that was clearly intended for their mother. P&G effectively communicates their “Thank You Mom” message by evoking a strong emotional response from the audience, and the genius of this commercial is that rather than solely highlighting the Olympian, it also salutes the people who helped the Olympian get there. It’s each athlete’s support system -?? in particular, Mom -?? that’s portrayed as the hero.
At a time when television screens are inundated with spots showing athletes doing their thing and glorifying their brands’ roles in making that possible; when every advertiser is a “proud sponsor of the 2012 Olympics”; P&G’s ad campaign is doing something impolitely different connecting with its target audience, by being a “proud sponsor of moms”. P’s Olympics advertising isn’t really about the Olympics. It’s about their audience, the mothers of the world who raise and take care of their kids with love and hard work (and buy Procter & Gamble products, but the spots don’t talk about that).
So while viewers see some Olympic-type footage, it’s with a twist, and only in a supporting role. The video currently has over 2. 2 million views on Youth and has been shared on Faceable over 1. 2 million times. P&G created a Faceable page voted to “Thank You Mom,” which has half a million fans so far. The page has incorporated a tab for people to publicly thank their own mothers. The campaign also features a “Thank You Mom” app where people can thank their moms by uploading personalized content (video, images, or text message) and then encourage friends and family to do the same.
P&G is not pushing products through an offer or product display. Instead, they’re sparking conversations with consumers to build brand relationships. P stated earlier this year that the brand plans to shift focus from reduces to people to build a community around the brand and the “Thank You Mom” campaign is their first step towards accomplishing this goal. The commercial constructed a world that supported the social and cultural value of mothers being devoted to their children. The visible housekeeping products of P tiring chores of mothers into such beautiful conduction of love and devotion as parents.
Ironically, it does not display any fathers, disguising unfair social positions between genders. I assume the reason relies on the fact that the consumers of P reduces are mostly female than male, which reflects the contemporary ideology that raising children is still heavily on mother’s responsibility. In addition, the commercial promotes the normative view of our world, where taking care of children and housekeeping are mothers’ Job. Although there are many working women in the contemporary era all over the world, the commercial represents the stagnated female’s social position, which is perceived as common and natural.
In addition, it plays a role in the reproduction of that ideology. Endless devotion for offspring is universal, so that using that ideology is suitable to present during an international event. It succeeded in reflecting mothers’ lives regardless of their nationalities and diminishing differences among the consumers. It is clear that this advertisement is a mirror of the contemporary social value as well as a reproducing vehicle of that value in the society. The ad is not a deviation or rebellion from ideology, but a direct response to it.
The P commercial uses the traditional, dominant ideology of caring mothers tending to their children and drives that notion home by making motherly affection an international, holistic concept. It connotes that mothers from America are the same as mothers from China or Brazil or India, representing feelings of love and affection for a child as a universal truth. Thus, implementing these traditional ideologies in ads is not a question of being more or less effective than more nuanced, edgy ad campaigns; it simply means that different ads are targeted towards different demographics and markets.
Proctor and Gamble has shown us that the “nurturing mother” ideology is by no means an outdated one, and still deeply resonates within mothers, parents and children alike. P’s advertisement capitalized on all the major factors that constitute a successful advertising campaign: the timing (featuring a campaign designed for the 2012 London Olympic Games), the generation of buzz (winning a commercial Emmy and social media presence), and the international appeal (featuring mothers and future Olympian from around the world).
The advertisement succeeds in fulfilling these criteria by playing upon dominant ideas of diversity, maternity, and hard work as a means of achieving greatness. If they made the products the focal point of the ad, it would resemble other product ads in which he product itself being the center creates an unrealistic environment. The P&G campaign uses subtle imagery to depict their brand, allowing their products to fade into the backdrop of a larger cultural narrative that is being told. It reflects real life, in which we buy products that go on our shelves, that are on the sideline.
The phrase “Thank you Mom” alone is enough to arouse an array of emotions from the audience. When most people think of their moms, images of providing love, care, and support often come to mind, which is exactly what this commercial portrays. The training to e an athlete is what made them exceptional at their sport, but it was the mom’s reassurance and consolation that motivated the child to go for the gold. Seeing this portrayed on television causes one to think about how their own mom encouraged them to pursue their dreams and how much it means to have at least one fan, and one person who always believed in them.
P uses this idea, as well as soft piano audience. Overall, the excellent use of pathos in this commercial highlights the influential role that mothers play in their child’s athletic career, which gives the audience a chance to appreciate their own moms. Would it be nice to see some business attire or a more obvious tribute to a working parent? Perhaps one vignette of a mom looking at her watch and racing out of the office to make it in time to pick the kid up at practice, or a quick shot of a mom in business clothes with a briefcase hustling her kid into the car.
The commercial doesn’t include any explicit visuals of working moms (though it could be implied some of these mothers do work) or dads. Thanking moms doesn’t mean dads don’t deserve thanks, in the same way Toilette’s Thanks Dad campaign didn’t imply anything negative about the role of mothers– not very ad can include all permutations (Lesbian moms, step-parents, guardians, etc). The media already tends to portray dads first as the coaches and sports enablers; hockey moms notwithstanding. In addition, full-time working moms do a lot of the laundry folding, dish washing, driving to and from various engagements, etc.
Perhaps it’s a way of giving thanks for what may be considered the more thankless’ Jobs of parenthood. Are there any implications that we can draw from that? It may reinforce the idea that only moms do (and, perhaps, should) laundry. Or make breakfast. Or get kids to sports practice. Dads do those things- but our society tends to give them a pass when they don’t. In addition, society make them out to be bigger heroes when they do (being a good parent) whereas it’s expected of women. In addition to the fact that P is an established company that can be trusted, the decision to air it during the Olympics played a key factor.
There is hardly a better way to demonstrate how much support moms give to their children then by showing them cheering their sons and daughters on in the stands at the Olympic arena and crying when their child had just achieved their lifelong goal of a gold medal. One of the most popular examples during the games was gymnast Ally Oarsman’s mom. During Alyssa routines, her mom was watching in the stands and squirming around in her seat while anxiously cheering “C’mon Ally, let’s go Ally, stick it! While watching Alyssa mom was hilarious, it was obvious that she was Just as nervous as Ally must have been and was very devoted to supporting her daughter and cheering her on. Considering the intense training that these athletes put themselves through, and all of the pressure that comes with performing in front of the entire world, it is only fair to assume that these athletes had incredibly supportive moms who helped them through sports injuries, consoled them after losses, and continuously believed in them their entire lives.
Using the Olympics as the topic of this commercial was an interesting way to examine the loving support a mom gives her child, which benefited P&G and their campaign to sponsor moms. While the online-only ad and its tagging, “The hardest Job in the world is the best Job in the world,” could likely get dragged into political theatre, the commercial certainly reminds us that any mom who makes the time to support her kids is a great mom.