It would’ve been great to be a fly on the wall when the male model (featured in this ad) got the call from his talent agent to appear in this Similac magazine ad:
Agent: How’s my favorite client?
Model: I’m good.
A: Great news – I landed you a new photo shoot for a parents magazine ad.
M: That’s cool. What’s the company?
A: You know, they make baby formula.
M: Oh, right.
A: Anyway, they want you to appear in a grocery store aisle holding a cute little baby.
M: Simple enough.
A: But there’s one catch…
M: What’s that?
A: They want to call you a mom.
M: (Momentary pause) A mom? But I’m a guy.
A: I know, I know. You’ll still be playing the part of a dad, but you see, their tagline is “Welcome to the Sisterhood of Motherhood.”
M: But dads aren’t moms.
A: True, but Similac likes to use “mom” as a synonym for “parent.”
M: (Awkward silence) But isn’t baby formula the perfect product to sell to dads, especially since they can’t breastfeed?
A: Right again, but they don’t need dads as customers.
M: Why not?
A: Because they say only women take care of kids and shop.
M: But I shop.
A: You’re single. When you get married and have kids, you don’t shop anymore. That’s a mother’s job.
M: That seems kind of sexist.
A: But Similac is paying you big money to look and act like a dad. (Awkward silence) They just want to call you a mom.
M: Now it all makes sense. Where do I sign?
Once again, Similac takes the shared role of parenting and needlessly genders its product – thus turning it into a mothers-only thing. It’s all the more troubling because they (gasp), used the word “parent” twice in its ad copy, only to follow up with its obdurate tagline. It concludes with a partisan invitation for only moms to converse further on social media.
The ad looks even more abnormal when you consider its “sisterhood” theme of supporting the choice between breast- and bottle-feeding – and then reflect on the same underlying “choice” theme in this particular heading – with a dad included. Breastfeeding and a dad?
We like to think that, at some point, Similac will discontinue this madness of posing dads in ads and calling them mothers in a sisterhood, but it has company when it comes to miscasting roles.