Equal Holidays Deserve Equal Contests

Last month, Arm & Hammer ran a Mother’s Day promotion with wonderful prizes and accolades in thanks for the goodness of moms. And now here in the month of June, it appears no comparable campaign is in the works for dad.

The omission is glaring enough, but it goes beyond that of a contest.

In avoiding an equivalent promotion for fathers, Arm & Hammer is effectively declaring laundry to be a mother’s task – a dangerous proposition.

There’s no need to debate who really does laundry in a home (it varies depending on circumstances), or who it fell upon in past generations. There’s no need for one-sided media stories, or studies claiming who handled the brunt of it during the pandemic.

The fact is it’s 2021, and the equality-driven world of today places that responsibility on both spouses whether that’s one’s actual reality or not. Companies, media and the public wouldn’t dare suggest it’s a mother’s job to handle laundry. But it sure seems Arm & Hammer did.

And even if Arm & Hammer’s market research insists it’s mostly moms who buy their detergent, wouldn’t it look better if it didn’t acknowledge that through a promotion? It would be like Kraft running an ad that implies a woman’s place is in the kitchen. Those are fighting words, so why would Arm & Hammer even insinuate something similar?

Dads deserve the same honor for being superdads. They’ve done impossible juggling, too, and families count on them for everything.

How about surprising dads with the same experiences and prizes extended to moms? There’s still time, Arm & Hammer. Get it done and lighten some deserving dads’ loads.

Is laundry only a mother’s job?

Laundry.  It comes in heaps and never stops, and this week we found a few items in need of a good washing.

First, let’s take a look at the latest Arm & Hammer ad, which offers something both endearing and cautionary about the way it positions its brand.armandhammer1

On one hand, A&H takes a clever, charming approach by using generational ties as laundry solutions.  We can certainly appreciate the appeal of doing things the way our parents did them.  Passing down advice from one generation to another offers a timeless sentiment that pulls at our emotions.  That aspect is nice.

But on the other hand, with piles of laundry comes great responsibility.

That laundry room in your home – yes, that one over there – must be handled with extreme caution.  It’s dangerous to assume that it’s mom’s domain. That would be inconsiderate, old-fashioned and passé, sort of like saying a mother’s place is in the kitchen.  Frankly, it would have been better had A&H had not even gone there and employed this motherly theme.

We acknowledge that sometimes an idea can be too good to pass up, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t.  Look at the incongruity the New York Times offers in name with its Motherlode section – a section which supposedly covers the issues of parenting.

So, by A&H using mom as the focal point, we’re all led down a path to believe that laundry is the mother’s duty.  That creates perceptions that aren’t necessarily true, especially in today’s modern, dual-income, gender-lines-have-been-blurred, and everybody-takes-on-different-roles world.

ariel1Which brings us to the peculiar ad unveiled by Indian detergent maker Ariel.  In it, Ariel offers an apology to moms everywhere, on behalf of dads, for guys not helping with the laundry.

Admittedly, we’re somewhat ill-equipped to analyze this ad, as we have no awareness of Indian culture.  However, for the purposes of this column, we’ll probe within an American context.

The Ariel ad is admirable for encouraging everyone to help around the house, but sadly, it’s at the expense of dads.

Once again, dads are made out to be the bad guy – the lazy spouse – and coerced into apologizing unnecessarily.  Let’s put this ad in perspective:  you have to remember that in days past, when the dad traditionally went to a job all day and was the sole breadwinner, it was the mom’s duty to run the household – and there’s nothing wrong with that scenario even today.  Both roles contribute to a family and household, even if they’re held by opposite parties nowadays.  No job is more important than the other.

The older father in the ad shouldn’t have had to apologize for anything, unless he wasn’t carrying his load and doing his part in life.  The younger father in the background, clearly isn’t – at least for the brief period shown in this elongated ad.

A&H curiously has an ad of its own, and not once is a male of any age shown.  Perhaps these laundry detergent makers could have compared notes, rather than send conflicting messages that only leave dad caught in the middle of two contradictory campaigns:  one that puts dad at fault, another that says it was never dad’s job in the first place.

So when the A&H ads are stacked up next to Ariel’s apologist campaign, it’s more than a little disconcerting to see the commercial’s closing question:  “why is laundry only a mother’s job?”

I think we all know the answer to that question:  it’s not.

But, maybe, just maybe, that question is better posed directly to A&H.

Tell us, A&H, why is laundry only a mother’s job?