We were shown this commercial in my Education Technology class today. This is one of my all-time favorite commercials, and Volkswagen’s advertising has always been among my favorites, so when the video was over and my teacher said he was going to “pick on” the ad majors, I knew I was going to be irritated by what he had to say.
He started by asking the class about the family. He brought up that the mom made the little boy a sandwich; the dad was seen coming home from work; the little boy is dressed as Darth Vader; and the little girl’s room was pink and had a baby doll in it. And then he asked if this is what the typical American family looks like. He brought up that there are lots of single-parent homes, multiracial homes, etc., that weren’t being represented. And then he said that advertisers reinforce these stereotypes of the typical American family, even if they don’t realize it.
The commercial is not about gender roles or family dynamics. It’s about the freaking car. And the little kid is dressed up as Darth Vader, and it’s funny and cute just like all of the other Volkswagen commercials. It is not advertisers’ jobs to reverse stereotypes or redefine gender roles. Why would anyone ever think that’s the job of advertisers? I understand that the topic is important, but I just don’t understand why my teacher really thinks it’s up to the advertiser. We typically have thirty-second spots. Are we really supposed to make a strong statement in that amount of time AND sell a product?
And if we really want to get nit-picky: How do you know that the pink room wasn’t the little boy’s room? Or, how do you know little Darth Vader wasn’t a girl? You never see the kid’s face after all.
I’m just tired of people getting so offended by the smallest things. Not EVERY type of person/culture/lifestyle can be represented in EVERYTHING. That doesn’t mean the way being represented is the only right way.
Hell, I don’t know if I’ll ever get married or have kids, but this commercial still speaks to me.
And I know that some people disagree with this view, but that’s my opinion, and it’s something that really bothers me. Really, life isn’t that hard for most of us, and I think everyone needs to cool it just a tad.
Nat, I love you, but the person who got most offended here is you, because you couldn’t stand a professor asking you to be cognizant of the repercussions of the advertising work you’re gonna do. People care about ads for more than the product being sold.
Good advertising work is hard. Making a difference is hard. You’re smart/savvy/kind enough to do both. Maybe do that instead of settling for asking people to chill.
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