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Advertising and the Pregnant Woman

So I’m paging through the newest copy of Woman’s Day, when an ad catches my eye…

…a black and white image of a pregnant woman in a form fitting tank dress standing on the left, facing a non-pregnant woman who is lifting up her tank top to expose her flat tummy. The pregnant woman’s hand is placed on the other woman’s stomach. The caption at the top reads: “The Tick-Tock You Feel Inside.”

The ad is for Baume & Mercier wristwatches. They have listed a website and a 1-800 number, and a photo (relatively life size) of a watch in the bottom right corner. There is no other copy.

Now tell me this: How does this sell watches???

I can only imagine the advertising meetings in some New York City high rise office building.

“I’ve got it! You know what will sell watches to women? Let’s exploit the age-old assumption that all women want to have children. We’ll make a parallel between the Biological Clock and our watches! It’s ingenious!”

Well, I’ve got news for them – not for all of us.

Granted, most people will probably look at that ad and see nothing wrong with it.

But it makes me uncomfortable to see a pregnant woman used to sell things that have nothing at all to do with children.

There are lots of other commercials that use the same kind of marketing ploy, which lumps all women into the same category – Mothers. Either we are mothers, or we desperately want to be. Advertisers believe this about us. And they use it whenever they can.

Some Married No Kids regulars wrote in with their favorite irritating ads. Here are a few:

*J.C. Penney: Baby sits in high chair screaming and throwing food around the kitchen as Dad sits at the table reading his newspaper. He looks at baby and says, “Where is your mother?”

*Sears: They are selling appliances to happy families. No couples. No singles. Apparently the rest of us don’t need refrigerators or ovens.

*Motrin: “For Moms Who Don’t Fool Around With Pain.” Men and non-mothers must not get headaches. Or if we do, we have all the time in the world to fool around with our pain.

*Always: A mom – who is menstruating, we assume – swings her child around. She needs wings because she's an "active mom." The rest of us can just use regular pads because we obviously don't need to move around as much as moms do.

**Pregnancy Tests: They always show an overjoyed couple, don’t they? You don’t see someone who is in a panic and rushing around town for the Morning After Pill. One person remembered a short-lived ad where the couple was relieved, saying “We’re not ready to be parents yet.” I would venture a guess that such a message would speak to many women taking a pregnancy test, and might also inadvertently promote the use of birth control – a GOOD THING!

**FluMist: Mom is knocked out in bed from the flu, we assume because she didn’t get her flu shot. A bumbling dad tries to get is kids ready for school and doesn’t notice they picked out summer clothes to wear in the dead of winter. "Who will replace YOU when you get the flu?" the commercial asks. A bad message for both women AND men, don’t you think?

All of these commercials are nothing more than subliminal messages to conceive, based on the antiquated idea that all women want to have families and expose themselves to all of the above situations. That speaks to the majority, I suppose. But what about the rest of us?

As GI Joe used to say, “Knowing is half the battle.”

So if you start having those “baby feelings,” remember what cues in pop culture you’ve been exposed to recently. It might explain where those feelings are coming from…

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If you’ve seen any irritating advertisements that focus on the child rearing world, peddling products that don’t have much to do with children, I want to hear from you! Click on “Email the Host” at the bottom of this page.

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