January 9, 2014 7:21 AM   Subscribe

Two very different commercials about mothers.
1. Old Spice "Momsong"
2. P&G "Pick Them Back Up"
Bring your tissues for that second one.
posted by Rock Steady (53 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

*believes childless self to be impervious to mom-related heart-string jerkers*

*is wrong*

Oh my god, bring tissues? How about a towel. Gotta go call my mom now.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 7:34 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


er, no.

The mom one though, *sniffle*.
posted by chavenet at 7:35 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]

Jesus, that second one wrecked me. It starts off like a fairly standard TV commercial sniffle-inducer, but be warned: they are quietly setting you up for much more intense blubbering than you suppose they are.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:37 AM on January 9 [5 favorites]

Very interesting juxtaposition! Number two hits you in the feels and makes it easy to be dismissive of number one, but number one has some humor to it about a topic that badly needs humor, IMHO.

IMHO as the dad of a boy who has started to...need deodorant JesusChristHelpMe.
posted by digitalprimate at 7:39 AM on January 9 [5 favorites]

If we're hitting Consumer Packaged Goods Mom tear jerker mashups, you probably need Dove's Real Beauty: Mothers and Daughters to complete your Kleenex collection... ah heck... I'll throw in one for Kleenex too. Now it is a palindrome of funny and touching, touching, touching, touching and Funny commercials.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:45 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]

I saw number one last Sunday while watching Green Bay lose to San Francisco. I nearly fell out of my chair I was laughing so hard.

Such absurdity. Much hilarious.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:46 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]

Old Spice is a P&G product, in case anyone doesn't know. So both these commercials are for the same company.
posted by teh_boy at 7:47 AM on January 9

The Old Spice brand's commitment to weirdness in advertising is pretty interesting.
posted by dismas at 7:48 AM on January 9 [14 favorites]

I'm normally the biggest crybaby and sucker for these types of things, but for some reason that I'm having trouble articulating, no. 2 is bothering me in ways that these things don't usually. Maybe it's because I grew up being terrible at sports, and there's something about the marketing of sports exceptionalism that irks me. Like, if your kid doesn't go on to win at the Olympics or become some bowl winner he's not really a success. Or if you're the kid himself, and you suck at sports, then you aren't really anybody.
posted by jbickers at 7:49 AM on January 9 [6 favorites]

The second one really is a lovely film and shows something important about life, but then I remember its only reason for existence is to make us choose one set of household items over a different set. And that makes me feel sad in a very different way to the tear-jerking intent of the creators.
posted by StephenF at 7:50 AM on January 9 [7 favorites]

#2 just annoyed me. (And I tend to be a sentimental & easily manipulated.)

Sour mom, I guess!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:51 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]

"I'll love you forever
I'll love you for always
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be."
posted by bondcliff at 7:52 AM on January 9 [7 favorites]

Emotional warfare?
posted by blue_beetle at 7:55 AM on January 9

That Old Spice one is kind of...creepy.
The second one...well...Touching as it is, for a lot of sports moms of athletes of that caliber, I think they left out scenes where she's berating their kid for losing/not pushing hard enough/being a quitter/living out their failed dreams through their kid/etc. etc. etc.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:56 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]

Momsong is brilliant, but its Bowling variant is a fantastic ear worm. The only ad that Hulu insists on playing me 15 times an episode that I haven't gotten tired of yet.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:58 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]

I'm normally the biggest crybaby and sucker for these types of things, but for some reason that I'm having trouble articulating, no. 2 is bothering me in ways that these things don't usually.

I've just watched it again - I believe I'm specifically flinching over the tagline that moms teach us that falling only makes us stronger.

That's not true about falling, of course, and it's not cute or clever enough as a slogan to make me want to believe it for just a tv moment!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:59 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]

The second one is the kind of horrible glurge that makes me mutter at the TV. Ick.

The first one is sublime. "He's kissing all the women, and his chores aren't done." Lovely.

Also I do use Old Spice because they're the only company who makes a non-antiperspirant stick that I like the smell of. Plus it comes in reasonably-priced two-packs.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:10 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]

I love Old Spice.
C'mere, honey, let me smell your neck.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:13 AM on January 9

The second one brought back a lot of memories for me, and few of them are good.

Years of involvement in minor hockey, watching parents drive their children to be the best on the team, sportsmanship be damned.

Sitting behind the bench watching a rep league game, listening to the coach call my brother, a twelve year old boy, a whiny little faggot for some imagined weakness.

Children playing a game (a game!) while being constantly told that they need to be better than the other guy or they will never make it to the WHL (the dub, that single syllable will never ever leave my memory) and if you don't make it to the dub, even a shitty team like the Cougars or the Broncos, you'll never ever ever get in the NHL, and then all this will have been wasted, and do you know just how much money has been spent on you?

Seeing my mother's best friend in tears because they can't afford a new coat for their son for winter, even though he's grown so much over the past year, because they had to buy all new equipment this year, because his coach told them that used gear would affect his play so much that he might as well just drop to house league right now.

Seeing kids, children with with metal in their bones, knees that don't work properly, shoulders that separate at the drop of a hat, and the concern from the parents isn't that their child now has a lifetime injury but that their child no longer has a chance at fame and glory.

The misery and tears and feelings of failure from my siblings when my parents pulled my sister and youngest brother from hockey because they needed to focus on my other brother, because they'd had a meeting with the coaches and it was agreed that other brother had the best chance at making it, and seeing something change in my siblings when it was finally out in the open that the game they played wasn't just for fun and they weren't good enough to continue in it.

Hearing my parents talk about my brother, who did make it to the WHL, even if it was Swift Current, hearing them talk about the man that coached him, the man who pleaded guilty to literally hundreds of counts of sexual assault against his players, and hearing them wonder if he was assaulted by this monster, and the only harm ever discussed was whether that was why he didn't make it to the NHL.

Yeah, minor hockey ruined me for children's sport, or at least for the parental involvement. My wife comes from a gymnastics background, and the stories she tells me about that particular scene make my hockey experiences look positively glowing. So I guess I'm insulated against fake tearjerking from commercials like that one.
posted by Sternmeyer at 8:14 AM on January 9 [24 favorites]

"What if," says the creative guy, leaning over the boardroom table, "we start with a montage of moms helping kids as they get older."

"Moms and kids..." says the company rep, stroking his chin.

"We'll pair it with... hang on tight: piano music."

"Piano music!" says the company rep. "Are you sure?"

"We think audiences are ready for it, at least in the Americas."

"I don't know," says the company rep, nervously scribbling a note. "We usually don't go near motherhood without a ukelele and glockenspiel. We could be hearing about this from the FCC again..."

"But there's a twist!" says the ad guy. "The moms and the kids are all friendly and supportive at first. But then... they win at the Olympics!"

The company rep raises his eyebrows, and writes down the word "WINNING", underlining it twice, and contemplating it. It's bold, alright.

"And then," continues the ad guy, "we say that we sponsor moms."

"Wait, don't moms actually pay *us* for the stuff they bu-"

"You're not seeing the big picture," says the ad guy, holding his arms open like a preacher. "We... Sponsor... Moms."

The P&G guy stares at his notepad, wondering if he's ever seen that big picture, and if he had, would he still be spending his days taking meetings with these shills? He stares at the word "winning," and rolls it over in his mouth. Moms and winning.

They're ugly, hostile words, the kind no sane marketer would touch. And still something about them calls to him. Moms. Winning. It's a risk, for sure, maybe the biggest he's ever taken. He doesn't even know how he's going to explain it to Mr. Everett when he gets back to Cincinnati. But for the first time in years, he feels alive.
posted by bicyclefish at 8:43 AM on January 9 [18 favorites]

I liked their previous Thanks, Mom commercial better. (Guess I'm an advertising hipster that way.)

But the campaign still bugs me because it STILL overemphasizes the mom as the nurturing parent -> the one who does the laundry and all that. I don't know why that rankles me above all of the other indignities in advertising, but it really does.

Tide, actually, actually seems to do a good job with putting dads in a position of doing laundry and playing with kids as a matter of course, not in a bumbling way or taking over for the mom unexpectedly. I mean, when else have seen a top NFL quarterback picking up laundry and not making a big deal about it? (Clorox isn't a P&G company, but I kind of like this one, too -- I could see a couple of moms doing that, although of course the standard would be to judge them for not paying attention to the kid EVEN THOUGH THAT'S TOTALLY PLAUSIBLE)

My husband is the laundry guru of our house because quite frankly, I would lose track. It's one of the many traits that will make him a fantastic father, and that contribute heavily to his role as "provider." He's not the only one in our friend group, by far.

I really wish I saw more representations of that. I feel like it would go a long way toward helping people take "women's work" for granted less and valuing our contributions to a family unit -- in whatever way, as long as we're contributing -- more.
posted by Madamina at 8:54 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]

In the second one, the ice skater's tumble at :41 is exactly how to fall to dislocate a shoulder. Not that she did, kids are bendy and all.
posted by pajamazon at 9:00 AM on January 9

The Old Spice commercial is just plain funny! I giggle every time I think of it. "Now he's kissing all the women and his chores aren't done." YES! As the mother of a 17-year-old daughter, I would like to think that those boys' mothers are lurking in the couch or under the sand.
posted by ms_rasclark at 9:01 AM on January 9

The sad thing is the Old Spice one is way more realistic.
posted by phaedon at 9:03 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]

That Old Spice one is kind of...creepy.

Yeah, kinda getting a Michael Gondry vibe off that one.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 9:03 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]

Seriously. Kids are a mess.
posted by little_dog_laughing at 9:07 AM on January 9

i got into a fb discussion with some friends about the Old Spice commerical.

i don't know anyone that liked it or thought it was funny, including the women who were mothers who were commenting about it.

i found it to be very creepy and to position mothers as some sort of weird, almost evil, creature. the mothers were all similarly dowdy, frumpy, and sort of lacking color - like they were an old faded photograph. (and the janitor thing was simply freaky as hell.)

it's like they hired the folks that made The Ring to be creative consultants.

maybe me and my friends spent way too much time in rhetoric classes in college talking about this sort of thing, but it just really hit me wrong .

most commericals with moms picture them as beautiful, have-it-together, never tired women (or who at least become that after $MIRACLE_PRODUCT.) this is the like the complete opposite end of that spectrum, where the mother is also potrayed in an exaggerated stereotype of hideousness, both in appearance and manner.

i don't know why but i kept waiting for one of the women to suddenly be shown as evil with a la the hags from MacBeth stirring up some anti-Red Spice potion.

the ad just left me feeling unsettled and weird. i don't like the take-away but i'm not the target audience i guess.
posted by sio42 at 9:10 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]

That second one would've been much improved had it actually turned out to be a commercial for adult diapers.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:12 AM on January 9 [8 favorites]

I grant you the second ad plays on some well-worn tropes. But then, given how endlessly entertaining the same repetitive anti-advertising snark is to some folks, I don't see why I can't also enjoy something a bit familiar.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:17 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]

And you know, fuck this. Both these tedious, obnoxious, unfunny or utterly schmaltzy commercials just reinforce the same boring toxic old gender relationships: only moms care about their kids, no dad ever comforted their child when they fell down and of course if they have sons they go crazy stalker because he's going to kiss girls, doesn't he know we like to keep it all nice and Oedipal in this family?

What's next, a commercial showing the father of the daughters the Old Spice boy is going out with stalking them singing how it allowed this seducer to come into their family?
posted by MartinWisse at 9:17 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]

So either they realistically dramatize the whole of parenting in 60 seconds or they don't get to try to mention moms in a deodorant ad?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:21 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]

That second one would've been much improved had it actually turned out to be a commercial for adult diapers.

... or some kind of chronic pain concern.

But seriously. About ten seconds into it, I was reminded that just because something can make you cry in that warm sort of way doesn't mean it's telling any kind of truth, except perhaps the broader one that there will always be some marketer out there eager to take our actually lived experiences, simplify them, repackage them, and sell them back to us at a profit ...
posted by philip-random at 9:22 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]

of course if they have sons they go crazy stalker because he's going to kiss girls

Well, it's the flip side of the girl's-dad-with-a-shotgun thing (which is currently airing in a ... I want to say Buick ... commercial). Which is equally horrible. At least this is self-consciously silly instead of, "This is the way life should be, forever and ever amen."
posted by uncleozzy at 9:28 AM on January 9

Fuck that second one.

"For showing us that a lifetime of physical pain doesn't matter if it's inflicted by someone who says they love you..."
posted by Sys Rq at 9:41 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]

I saw the Momsong one for the first time this weekend, during a football commercial break, and I had the TV on mute. It was memorable, and it made me do a What the Hell? The second time it came on, I unmuted it (and thought it was hilarious).

Whether you like the ad or not or not, the fact that they got me to unmute, and the fact that I liked and remembered it after actually listening to it, makes it a very effective ad.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:51 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]

I am learning a great deal about people from the offensive things they suppose these commercials are saying.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:01 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]

"I'll love you forever
I'll love you for always
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be."
posted by bondcliff at 10:52 AM on January 9

Ah yes! I know that one! It is a children's book which eventually leads to the mom stalking the child, and using a ladder to break into his house and climbing into his bed late at night when he is an adult and married to rock him to sleep. Later, when his mom is dying, he reciprocates the behavior. Yeah, set very odd Oedipus expectations with your child.

Yeah... totally normal family behavior expressed in that book.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:04 AM on January 9

See, world-class athletes don't actually actually do it because they love it or because they're driven by some force deep inside them to succeed. They do it because their parents were jerks to tiny children and forced them to keep doing some stupid sport even when they were seriously injured doing it.

(Ok, I'm actually not that cynical, but the second ad did make me feel like they were telling me I'm a failure as a parent because my kids didn't know how to snowboard or whatever by the time they were 5.)
posted by The World Famous at 10:07 AM on January 9

Are y'all watching some, like, extended cut of the second commercial different than the one linked? The one I saw, the parents literally never push the kids into anything, and in fact, the kids are shown at various points pursuing the activities on their own.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:11 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]

P&G has used the "Proud Sponsor of Moms" tagline for a couple of the last Olympics, and they sponsor a couple dozen Olympians and Paraolympians from the US (and a bunch of Canadians too, I guess), and typically also provide funds for some athlete's families to travel to see them, who couldn't otherwise afford it. They also tie this campaign to large grants to youth sports programs.

It's advertising, but they are actually, you know, sponsoring people's moms to go to the Olympics to see their kids!

Nanukthedog: "Ah yes! I know that one! It is a children's book which eventually leads to the mom stalking the child, and using a ladder to break into his house and climbing into his bed late at night when he is an adult and married to rock him to sleep. Later, when his mom is dying, he reciprocates the behavior. Yeah, set very odd Oedipus expectations with your child."

If it helps, the author wrote the book as an ode to his two babies that were born dead. I don't think it's about stalking and Oedipal complexes.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:12 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]

...The one I saw, the parents literally never push the kids into anything, and in fact, the kids are shown at various points pursuing the activities on their own.

"...on their own"? Yeah, sure. Who is doing all the filming then!:)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:34 AM on January 9

I liked the second one. Badly-behaved soccer moms/dads aside, I took it as a general reminder about how everyone might watch you succeed (or fail), but the people who love you were with you through every success and failure. I think it's bigger than sports. Sure, it's an advertisement. Whatever. Everything is selling something. I thought it was touching.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:37 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]

Jody Tresidder: "Yeah, sure. Who is doing all the filming then!:)"

Because you know kids can't take movies, not in this day and age.

(Warning: another ad)
posted by chavenet at 11:11 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]

Momsong is brilliant, but its Bowling yt variant is a fantastic ear worm.

Hah! It's good to see there's a place in the advertising world for incredibly short and stupid non-jingly songs. "Old Spice/Take a look what you've done/you've made a sexy man right out of my son" indeed.
posted by davejay at 11:19 AM on January 9

I guess my parents did sports wrong when I was growing up then - Largely, I enjoyed it and after my career in hockey was done in, came to miss it terribly.

I liked the second commercial, too and I thought it summed up quite well a part of parenting that I didn't like very much. Kids need direction and support - even and especially when they don't want it. And it's hard to do that. It's hard to watch your kid fail, or make mistakes again and again, and it's hard to encourage them and in some cases force/push/goad them to keep trying.

But, the payoff is that, hopefully, they learn that if they keep trying they can overcome the thing holding them back and achieve success. Whether it's going to the Olympics or getting an A in math. Learning to set long term goals and then achieve them is, IMO, a necessary lesson.

I will stipulate that it is bad when parents project their aspirations onto their children and otherwise behave badly. I don't see how you get that from the commercial, though, unless you bring that baggage with you. In which case, I'm sorry it was so bad for you. It didn't have to be that way.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:35 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]

This is the original P & G Moms work for the Olympics (which still makes me bawl every time). This new one is beautiful, but it didn't get to me the same way - feels much more about promoting the pain and suffering and even stage-mommying aspects, rather than just sometimes the downsides of being in charge of the household are also the upsides.

I work in advertising and I am always pushing back to include dads in work aimed at moms, and 99% of the time it's the clients who won't go along with it. They truly believe that since these products (not just cleaners but ovens and vaccuums and every other household item that nowadays men regularly use too) are primarily purchased by women, therefore only women should be featured. Meanwhile I remain convinced that the first home product that goes directly after dads will win the whole market because damnit, the women who are making these purchasing decisions WANT to see more representation of men doing housework, so that maybe more men will realize that yes, it is also their job and they should play more of a role in that shopping after all.
posted by Mchelly at 12:49 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]

Aaaaaaand, I just watched it again to correct the link and I'm crying again. The swimmer's mom at the end just kills me.
posted by Mchelly at 12:54 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

I was at my neighbor's house and noticed the first commercial over the weekend. It is humorous and clever. It reminded me immediately of work Jungian influenced writers have done over the years, like Robert Bly's New York Times Best Seller Iron John for example, examining the relationship between sons and their mothers. Themes include society has stopped encouraging healthy detachment from the mother, self responsibility, independence and the disappearance of coming of age rituals to introduce these concepts to boys as they attempt to mature and grow into adults in healthy relationships.

The interesting thing about the Old Spice commercial is that it implies using their product will result in boys becoming men. Why teach young men to cultivate discipline, character and virtue when they can just go buy underarm deodorant? Perhaps young people intuitively sense or subconsciously know they are lacking true development of maturity in their life, so in a way this campaign is playing on their insecurities. The feeling of masculinity one might get from a spray bottle is fleeting and shallow. There's already a stereotype of frat-boy type dudes who wreak of foul smelling body sprays like Axe and Old Spice. This commercial, while amusing on some level, does nothing help instill a healthy self image to the young people who are watching.
posted by chowder at 3:31 PM on January 9

I dunno, I definitely got a little something in my eye at the second one. Because honestly, it was my mom who drove me to competitions at 4am, and took me to all the doctor's appointments when I got hurt, and packed me a lunch for the travel days, and came out to support whatever I was doing. My dad paid all the bills, but otherwise never wanted to be a part of any of it. So yeah, my mom and moms like her do deserve a thank you.

The parts that resonated with me were, especially, the part of the little kid clips where mom is, like, helping the kids get out of their snowboots and/or helping them warm up. Again, that was totally my mom.

I also want to push back against the "all Olympians have been FORCED to do this since age 5!" narrative going on. A pretty common counter-narrative--granted, especially among some of the more dangerous/expensive things--is parents (mine included, and I was never gonna be anywhere near Olympic) saying, "are you sure you want to do this? Wouldn't you like to try bowling/walking/sitting quietly and see if you like it?"
posted by TwoStride at 4:04 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]

The Old Spice ad creeped me way out and made me angry. I get that it's supposed to be funny and weird, but I found the depiction of "moms" as these hideous child-obsessed harpies really repugnant. Not that I expect a true depiction of the world in advertising, but it doesn't mean I have to like the weirdness.

Also, the heavy stress on the word "coming" in the opening line (and then " came in a can") in an ad about boys reaching maturity is just . . . disturbing.
posted by stargell at 7:09 PM on January 9

huh, what I got from commercial # 2 was
- gee, it sucks that none of these Olympians had a dad
- I wish I'd been able to try snow sports when I was a kid and didn't care about breaking pieces
- fuck if I want my kids to go near snow or ice until they're so old they already moved out and got their own insurance, and hockey is totally out or I'll end up beating up some asshole 10 year old on the opposing team
posted by the agents of KAOS at 8:21 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

Mothers are like that.
posted by Oriole Adams at 2:11 AM on January 10

stargell - yes harpies was the word i was looking for! thank you.
posted by sio42 at 4:42 AM on January 10

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