Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Are you talking to me?

So here I go again.

I've already had my say about the state of advertising to mothers of young children (see magazine column below).

But being pregnant with my second child and mum to a now active toddler - things aren't looking any better.

Yes, I run around after a tot, cook batches of baby food (and have it thrown back at me) and bulk shop, yet I don't find myself relating to TV mums... in fact I find myself recoiling.

Woolworths advertisements are the latest offerings to cause me to cringe.

In particular the mother who makes "orange pasta" and the one who makes "plus or minus" Chicken Cacciatore as the phone continues to ring. Cringe.

And what about Continental Twisty Pasta.

The baggy shirt tucked into long skirt managed to transform Caroline Brazier (Julie's sexy best friend from Packed to the Rafter) into someone barely recognisable.

Unfortunately (for me) one ad I can relate to is the one for Everyday Rewards cards with woman who "spends every day doing everything" for her family.

Yet while I do know the feeling of a hectic day, somehow I don't I find myself sipping coffee, smug look upon my face, at the end of a busy day...

Now why is that?

SKINNY JEANS AND SHOWER POWER (Trespass Magazine, December '09)

Twelve months ago, I was working full-time as a television reporter. I was into fashion, read books, loved music, discussed current affairs. I coloured my hair, wore a bikini, watched the news and looked forward to a good party.

I’ve since left my full-time gig in favour of freelance, to be home with my baby boy. Other than that, not much has changed… except maybe my comfort level in a bikini, and the frequency in which I attend said parties.

I have, of course, entered a new demographic. I’m now a mum, who happens to spend a lot more time at home. I still dress the same, think the same, crack the same jokes … yet when I flick on the telly I’m left wondering if I missed the part where new mums are required to enter a phone booth to be transformed into Mrs Brady.

Now I know most chick-flicks and TV dramas are full of yummy-mummies and ultra-cool mamas, but when it comes to commercials aimed at us real mums, it’s a different story. Clearly, mums are the target market for a lot of consumer goods, so there’s no shortage of ads, all aimed at the likes of me. Apparently.

Now I need Shower Power as much as the next mum, but when I watch these ads, it’s not me I see. I see a mumsy bunch, with matching pony tails, three quarter jeans and collared shirts.

Does giving birth and taking on a few home duties mean the end of skinny jeans, summer dresses and high heels?

But it’s not just the daggy dress code that leaves me cringing. I don't know about you other mums out there, but I don't use a magnifying glass to clean my toilet, and I don’t inwardly gloat when my friends use the bright white bowl.

I don’t use phrases like “not in my house” when I see finger prints on the stainless steel. And I do not feel smug about the mess my chicken stock meal has made (Tess and her REAL family I find particularly annoying!)

Don’t get me wrong, I wear trackies with the best of them. I cook, clean, compare nappy brands, even bake the odd batch of muffins - but I do it in my denim cutoffs listening to Groove Armada dammit.

And once it’s done I’m off to play with my son, or read a book, or call a friend, or go shopping. These ads would have you believe the sparkle of the shower floor is a daily highlight. And if a neighbour stops by and happens to witness the sparkle, well, even better!

Am I alone in my frustration, I wonder? Are my shiny bathroom taps really enough to make my friends green with envy? Do they watch these TV mums with an understanding nod, or find the stereotype as irritating as I do?

Do most mums spend their day worrying about that stain they saw on hubby’s shirt as he walked out the door? Or do they see the stain, deal with it and move onto more important things.

More likely, there’s no such thing as an average mum. At the end of the day, we’re all human.

Now - time to try that new stain remover.


  1. Most TV ads I let “go through to the keeper” or are not even seen (thank you IQ). The ones that that irritate me enough to take notice are those that show the “capable” & “condescending” woman having to instruct the ‘incompetent husband” complete a household task or open a can of soup. These types of ads do nothing to promote the sharing of household activities & continue to reinforce out of touch beliefs that woman are the best in the home and men are plain stupid or lazy around the home.

  2. There all fakes, Nicole, just like most of the other mind-numbing crap that TV offers us!! Stay real!

  3. I work as a research scientist. Trust me, the "scientists" used in consumer advertising (or lab consumable brochures) have no resemblance whatsoever to real research scientists, except perhaps for the white lab coat. Seeing picture after picture of two models in lab coats and glasses, smiling placidly at a piece of paper that has their "perfect" publishable data just doesn't reflect reality.

    That's advertising: A world of fantasy. If you want reality, you want a documentary!

    I don't see it as a big issue, really. Advertising is best ignored as the mostly worthless industry that it is.


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About Me

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Nicole is an Australian journalist, presenter and communications consultant. She spent several years as a News Limited journalist, writing for a variety of local newspapers and magazines. Following this, Nicole was a reporter and presenter with the Nine Network, filing stories for Brisbane magazine program Extra, lifestyle show Weekend Extra and National Nine News. She is now a freelance journalist, writing for a variety of publications. Her special interests are features, lifestyle, current affairs, women, parenting/family and health. Nicole is also a public relations and communications consultant. www.nicolemadigan.webs.com
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