Ad Critique: Running Errands with Dad and Wells Fargo

This advertisement, for the bank Wells Fargo, depicts a father running errands for his partner (who is presumably female, as implied in the “Your Body After Baby” scene in the commercial) while bringing their infant along. The commercial aims to question certain gendered divisions of labor, though in doing so, it reinforces stereotypical male behavior. On the one hand, the commercial does offer a realistic representation of the type of co-parenting that Lisa Belkin explores in “When Mom and Dad Share It All,” in which both partners “work equal hours, spend equal time with their children, [and] take equal responsibility for their home” (1). The father picks up the dry cleaning, buys presents for relatives, and goes grocery shopping, thereby challenging the expectation that only mothers should be responsible for “feeding, clothing, cleaning, and sustaining themselves and their families” (Cowan 151).

That said, the commercial suggests that men are not entirely capable of assuming such roles, which is made clear by the phone exchanges between husband and wife: “Honey I got this,” the father reassures the mother. Moreover, his cluelessness is endearing, as the father takes his child with him to a bar to grab lunch. This directly relates to Belkin’s observation that, “If the toddler’s clothes don’t match, if the thank-you notes don’t get written, if the house is a shambles, it is seen as her [the mother’s] fault” (6), while the father is applauded for any contribution he makes. Thus, the commercial proves both progressive and problematic.

Belkin, Lisa. “When Mom and Dad Share It All.” New York Times Magazine. The New York Times, 15 June 2008. Web.

Cowan, Ruth Schwartz. “Household Technology and Household Work between 1900 and 1940.” More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave. New York: Basic, 1983. 151-91. Print.

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2 thoughts on “Ad Critique: Running Errands with Dad and Wells Fargo

  1. mafilalo

    I agree with you that this commercial “proves both progressive and problematic.” In addition to the reinforcement of some male stereotypes, I think the existence of the commercial in and of itself shows that there is still much progress to be made before true equality between partners can be achieved. The existence of the commercial implies that it is unusual for the father to be assuming domestic roles, and reflects the general societal belief that these roles belong to the mother. The commercial is a bit paradoxical in that it challenges these notions by portraying a father assuming domestic roles; yet by characterizing this as unusual, it also reinforces the notion that these roles belong to the mother.

    Reply
  2. lpstewart

    I entirely agree with your analysis of the Wells Fargo commercial and your conclusion that the advertisement is both “progressive and problematic.” In addition to the problems that you mentioned within the commercial, the advertisement represents women as being meticulous and having unreachable parenting or housekeeping standards. This representation, although it is stereotypical, is perhaps true and rooted in social pressures. Belkin addresses this in her article. She references some couples who “say that they would love to share equally but that one—almost always the wife—has parenting or housekeeping standards that the other cannot (or will not) meet.” Women hold these high standards because, as you mentioned, they are the ones “at fault” if the house is dirty or the thank-you notes are not written. Therefore, the commercial points out a societal issue. Rather than judging the mother, society should question the father’s involvement in childcare and housekeeping.

    Reply

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