January 23, 2015

Where Did The Bad Formula Commercial Touch You?

Bwahaha, at first I was like LOL, then LMAO, then ROTFLMAO, and then I was like, FULL STOP, AS YET UNIDENTIFIED ADVERTISER.

Advertiser who was making me laugh at parenting stereotypes one second, but who the next compels me to wince at child in danger.

REVEAL YOURSELF, O BRAZEN MANIPULATOR OF MY EMOTIONS FOR YOUR UNACKNOWLEDGED COMMERCIAL PURPOSES.

And it's freakin' Similac. Baby formula. I have just been played--hard--by Big Formula.

What just happened, exactly?

What was it we were laughing at and judging each other about the moment before we were forced to share our common terror for a baby's drowning, and then transfer our feelings of blessed relief to a can of formula? At first it seemed like it was the universal sense of clueless superiority engaged parents of every flavor feel, and the passive aggressive stridency with which they judge every other type of parent.

Well, almost universal. The trio of baffled, babywearing moms are not throwing the shade; they're just watching it fly. They are the ones we, the viewer, are supposed to identify with, even if we see or hear ourselves elsewhere on the playground.

But the seeming diversity of parenting tribes masks the real source of conflict: bottle vs breast. The flagrant feeders whipping it out, the militant coverwearers, the pumping professionals, the dads dropping and getting called on received wisdom ["Well it IS all about the breast." "No it isn't."] Everything boils down to formula.

I can totally see how the world might seem that way to a formula marketer. When you take it apart, this commercial and its demographics and their respective punchlines feels like it comes straight from a focus group. Similac is re-enacting the consumer anxieties they facilitated in hours and hours of guided group sessions. And then they shoehorned all the pullquotes into a three minute supercut of caricatures and shameless exploitation.

And after being played like this, we are supposed to want to join Similac's #Sisterhood of people who love babies, no matter how we feed them.

"Comments are disabled for this video." heh The Mother 'Hood [giant sic obv] -- Official Video [similac's youtube, via @ftrain]
That'll show'em: Buy Enfamil formula instead [amazon]

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