Dear P&G: I don’t need a sponsor, thanks.


Sometimes, I think feminists shouldn't watch telly.

There's just too much that makes us shout and grumble and despair of the world.

Lately, the shouting and grumbling and despairing has been flung in the direction of a new ad campaign being run by P&G, which has announced that it is sponsoring Moms/Mums (depending which side of the Atlantic your TV comes from). 

I'm not sure what my being sponsored by P&G brings me, exactly. Certainly, nobody has sent me a t-shirt or a branded pen, quite yet. And I'm fairly confident that Gil Scott-Heron would tell us that Motherhood will not be televised. 

Still, according to the advert, as a Mum, P&G wants to help me to help my family. To this end, the ad shows me a series of P&G products like nappies and laundry powder and men's razor blades and says if I buy these products, I am celebrating being a Mum, and, erm, I might win some tickets to the Olympics. Or something. 

I think the ad is supposed to be positive and moving, but it just moves me to positive apoplexy. And that was before I read the reasoning behind the campaign over on the P&G website: 

“Our products have been designed through generations to improve mum’s life in small but meaningful ways. Whether it’s household favourites like Ariel or Fairy that help to make everyday tasks a little easier for Mum; or the Pampers nappy that mum trusts for her little one; or the Olay cream or Max Factor mascara she uses every day to help her look and feel her best; this is our business – and they are our boss.”

I have a slight profanity filter on this blog so I'll spare you what I really think when I read this kind of stuff. I'll just say… it's 2011, right? 

Because in my world, in 2011, most women don't tend to consider it their lot in life to do laundry, change nappies, go shopping and then make themselves pretty in time for the hubby getting home. Sometimes – hold back your gasps, ladies – men can be equally involved in this kind of domestic activity. I've even heard that sometimes men buy groceries. Wowzers. 

I know that P&G is far, far from being the only company to fall back on lazy gender stereotypes in advertising. But when you do this, AND you claim to represent me – well, it bothers me. Or am I missing something? 

If you're interested in sharing views on feminism and parenting, then do check out Melaina's Feminist Friday carnival, which this week looks at gender role models. 



Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. 29th May 2011 / 9:31 am

    I so agree with you on this one & can regularly be found ranting at the tv or radio about similar things.

  2. 29th May 2011 / 9:38 am

    As much as these adverts annoy me, and they really do, the ones where they try and fail (in my opinion) to buck the stereotype really get my goat. You know the ones, bloke out of Brush Strokes manages to clean an impossibly dirty bathroom in super quick time and then expects some kind of medal for it! Or…. the skinny dude cleaning the oven…
    I take it P&G are also responsible for us womenfolk having to wear white and roller skate everywhere at that time of the month?

  3. 29th May 2011 / 9:58 am

    It’s interesting because that ‘hapless male’ isn’t bucking the stereotype either, is he? He’s simply reinforcing that it isn’t normal for men to do such things, hence not being very good at it. The ads that DO buck the trend are ones that just show men cooking or cleaning or looking after kids without having to make a huge, sexist comedy show out of it. SO infuriating!

  4. 29th May 2011 / 10:10 am

    That is so true, in fact its fair to say Ed does most of the cleaning in our house, goes shopping and doesn’t actually give a crap if I wear make up around the house. Pampers are overpriced- the way I see it is that whether a pack of nappies costs me 3.60 or a fiver (or more), my child is still going to use it for the purpose its meant for (wont elaborate as hungover) and it’ll be in the bin!
    I really don’t like that ad either- and surely if us Mum’s are so busy, we’ll be forced to watch the Olympics whilst ironing a huge pile of ironing in front of the TV, only pausing to change a nappy and slick some more over priced granny make up brand on our weary faces. It makes me think of Bewitched for some reason!

  5. 29th May 2011 / 11:11 am

    In our house NotBlondeHusband does the vast share of cooking, cleaning, laundry and nappy changes. I love being a Mom but that sure doesn’t make me like poopy diapers more than anyone else.
    When everyone goes on about crying at the John Lewis commercial or this new P&G advert I can’t’ chime in. The ads don’t appeal to me and certainly don’t cause me to connect emotionally with the brand.
    I’m quite sad about this as P&G is my hometown brand as their HQ is in Cincinnati but it’s inexcusable to use gender stereotypes so blatantly (not that hidden messages are better, but you know what I mean) in their new campaign. The also did a social media campaign asking women to be “1930’s housewives” again with washing boards, cold cream and the lot which didn’t sit well with me either.
    Thank goodness for Sky+ so we can fast-forward through most of the nonsense but it’s equally as important to not just ignore it and actually say something! Gender stereotypes will continue to exist and be exploited if we don’t let the media know how we feel.
    Thank for taking part and I hope you enjoying reading/commenting on the other entries when you have time!

  6. 29th May 2011 / 2:53 pm

    Yes, it is rather patronising, isn’t it? The word “little” is used too often – never a good sign.
    My cousin worked for P&G in the marketing dept (a long time ago, admittedly), so I know too much about the company to think they really care deep down about our lives.

  7. 29th May 2011 / 5:00 pm

    I once interviewed for the graduate program at P&G, for a role in marketing ‘baby cotton products’. I failed the interview and looking back, it’s hard to be sad about it!

  8. 29th May 2011 / 5:01 pm

    I don’t mind the celebration of motherhood per se – some of the US ads in this campaign are sentimental but positive. I just hate this reduction of women to a domestic/decorative role, the assumption that these things are naturally women’s concern – makes me hopping mad!

  9. 29th May 2011 / 5:04 pm

    It’s interesting how many families do rely on men to purchase these products – so why assume this is exclusively the domain of women? Grrr.

  10. cecilia
    30th May 2011 / 3:15 pm

    It’s sad that these kind of advertising still exists.But even more that are still women who feel that this kind of comercial represents their day to day life.

  11. 30th May 2011 / 6:16 pm

    I agree with everyone wholeheartedly ……it is incredible that they do still exist and so sad that they seem out of a Madmen ad from the 50s 60s. I did read a statistic that British men do an impressive amount of housework and childcare so why can´t the P&Gs catchup?
    In this part of the world (Central America) the latin woman seems quite happy to play along so I fear despite certain advances and many impressive individuals that feminism has a much longer journey to travel. And the indigenous Maya women, you can forget about them they are not even represented in the adverts, most of them lose their virginity to a family member and are not sent to school, they also only get to eat after the men. THey travel in the back of the pick up with the children in all weathers while the men are up front shielded from the elements.
    I am lucky, my latin man (most of the time) is very liberated and likes to cook, clean and hang out with my children!