This morning I saw the video above on Joe.My.God. and I thought I’d share it here. But then that fact-checking thing I was talking about yesterday reared its head, and this post was delayed. I just can’t help myself.
I think the commercial is interesting not just because it has a gay couple, but because them being gay is beside the point: The exact same commercial would work the same if they were two females or a male and female. In short, the commercial has a couple. This time, it just happens to be a gay male couple.
I knew that Procter & Gamble, the makers of Tide, have been reasonably pro-LGBT for awhile now: They adopted a non-discrimination policy back in 1992, partnership benefits in 2001 and transition benefits for transgender employees in 2010. I also knew that just last month the company endorsed marriage equality.
However, I knew, too, that the company had been put under attack by a particularly crackpot far right “Christian” preacher who claimed the Proctor & Gamble “Man in the Moon” logo was “satanic”. The company caved in 1985 and removed the logo. The myth kept being revived for a variety of reasons for years.
So, given their past problems with religious nutjobs, I wondered if they’d really risk taking them on by making an ad that would make the nutjobs’ heads explode.
So, I set out to try and find it at an official site, with no luck. I knew it was Canadian because of the “tide.ca” at the end of the ad, so I looked on the Tide Canada YouTube Channel, but it wasn’t there. It also wasn’t on the main Tide YouTube Channel.
A little more searching and I found several articles talking about the ad, like the one on Logo TV’s "NewNextNow". So, it was real, after all—whew!
But I also found out that they’d done an ambiguous one early last year (below) with a modern Dad who might be gay, or he might be a stay-at-home heterosexual dad, or he might be a single dad—it’s never discussed. In fact, it clearly doesn’t even matter, just as it doesn’t matter that the couple in the Canadian ad is gay.
Jezebel headlined their article about the “princess dress” ad, appropriately, “Refreshing Tide Commercial Manages Not to Rely on Goon-Dad Caricature for a Change”, while Psychology Today’s “The Media Zone” headlined their story, a little more boldly, “How A Laundry Detergent Commercial Saved the World”. I think both articles make valid points.
I said yesterday, when I posted another ad that presents varied views of families:
Advertising is an imperfect way to transmit cultural values; more often than not, it lags well behind changes in culture rather than leading them. But consumer advertising is also uniquely placed to help foster awareness of changes in culture because it’s everywhere.What all three ads have in common—apart from trying to sell stuff—is that they take modern family structures for granted: They don’t just use traditional images of families to promote their products. In the case of the ad yesterday, they were trying to make a point about how families matter most, and those families are varied. That’s one approach. The other, as in the two Tide ads, is to just present people as people, no big deal.
I also said yesterday, “it's important to show some of diversity among familes so that kids can learn that there are many different kinds of people and families, and—especially—more kinds of families can see their lives and realities reflected in popular media and culture.” When I was growing up it was simply unthinkable that gay people would be included in advertising (or that P&G would ever endorse marriage equality!). To see oneself reflected back in TV commercials, and in a matter-of-fact way, matters a lot and will help change the world for the better far more than any angry rant on a blog.
Yes, they’re trying to sell stuff. But by including the variety of humanity in their advertising they’re also selling us a brighter future, and that’s important. And that’s why I keep sharing these ads.