Turning the male-centered marketing model on its head
Much has been written and said about the breakaway TV hit of the season, “Desperate Housewives.”
(http://abc.go.com/primetime/desperate/) That it’s an over-sexed primetime soap, glorifies adultery, and normalizes mothers taking their children’s ADD medication. It’s also been said that it’s a smart, addictive, character-driven look at the (sur)real lives of today’s suburban women. No matter which side you take, here’s a fact: it’s the most popular show on TV. And it’s raising some questions about the state of today’s moms.
In the interest of complete disclosure, I should tell you that I watch it every Sunday night.
Columnist Ellen Goodman (http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/goodman/) recently confessed her feelings about the show as well, stating that she’s fascinated with the struggles of Felicity Huffman’s character, Lynette, a former high-profile exec who gave up her career to stay at home and raise her children. “It’s Lynette that speaks the truth to power – the power of the updated and eternal myth of mommyhood. The “truth” is that even a woman who purposely chooses to be a full-time mom can be one nap away from losing it. The “truth” is that mothers who would throw their bodies in front of a truck for their children also fantasize about throwing their kids in front of a truck. Okay, a little wooden truck.”
One of Lynette’s recent storylines involved her sneaking some of her sons’ ADD medication to help her finish making all the costumes for their school play. Her “mother’s little helper” turned into an addiction, and she later confided in her girlfriends that she felt like a failure as a mom. Personally, I found this admission one of the most honest moments on TV in recent memory. In an age when we all know reality TV isn’t really real, here’s a scripted show that has the courage to talk about the deep struggles facing women.
It’s a conversation that involves words like choice, challenge, decision, struggle, ambivalence, guilt, and stress, according to Myra Stark, (http://www.saatchikevin.com/workingit/myra_stark_report2004ideastrends.html) director of knowledge management at Saatchi & Saatchi, a global advertising agency. She posits that the Mommy Wars are now an internal debate raging in the minds of today’s Gen X and Gen Y women. While society in general is more accepting of working mothers, Xers and Yers are abandoning the work world in favor of being full-time parents. In fact, for the first time in more than ten years, statistics show a decline in workplace participation of married women – down six percent in three years and still dropping.
June Cleaver is long gone. Supermom fell down from exhaustion. The old soccer mom stereotypes are disappearing from the radar. Security moms are on the rise. It all begs the question: What do we really know about today’s moms? And are we marketing to them in ways that are meaningful? Talk amongst yourselves…More on “Desperate Housewives” tomorrow.