This cold and flu season, don't take vitamins or stay home from work if you're sick – Get Mommed instead! The new campaign from Kleenex offers the nurturing comfort that only a virtual mother can provide. (And the stereotypes are included!)
This campaign not only presents a variety of moms, it encourages viewers to "Get Mommed" by choosing their favorite. Once you've chosen your mom, she'll send you text messages, wake-up and "rescue" calls (what does that mean?), and even meal ideas, all based on which mom you choose to mother you through the magic of tissues. There is a quiz to determine which mom is right for you, which I will take in a minute so we can all see how well it works. The campaign also includes a series of webisodes. Check this one out:
Everyone likes moms, right? So what's wrong with this picture? Well, first of all Kleenex is assuming that only mothers can provide nurture. Fathers are clearly not qualified to nurture their virtual children, and neither are friends, pets, grandparents, neighbors, kids, etc. Mothers are the only ones who know what makes us feel better when we're sick, and all mothers should aspire to be geniuses in this arena. Otherwise, we'll all just get virtual moms. (I was unable to embed the television spots for this campaign, but you can view them here. Rest assured they reinforce the notion that mothers should exist only to serve us and make us happy, and if they fail to do so we'll trade them in for a different model quicker than you can say mommy's little angel.)
Another glaring problem with this campaign is that it traffics in outrageous stereotypes. There are eight moms to choose from, and they each represent a big, fat, cliché when it comes to motherhood. The list:
Amber, the hippy-dippy earth mother. Complete with Feng-shui and yoga tips!
Ana Maria, the wise Latina mother. She loves to make salsa and gets confused easily by American traditions!
Jessica, the best friend mother. She has long blond hair, wears hip clothes and wants to talk about boys!
Lisa, the resourceful black mother. She is full-figured, sassy, and knows her way around the house!
Magnolia, the genteel Southern mother. She bakes pies and speaks in folksy platitudes!
Phyllis, the overbearing Jewish mother. She wants you to call her mommy and she'll never stop
smothering loving you!
Sue, the no-nonsense Asian mother. Sue is a workaholic, and she'll help you to be one too!
Veronica, the distracted WASP-y mother. Veronica doesn't have time for her virtual children!
So now for the moment of truth. I took the super-scientific quiz and got Lisa for my very own virtual mom! (I think it's because we both like "crafty table decorations." Here is Lisa singing me a happy birthday (isn't this campaign bizarrely complicated?):
She seems pretty nice, but I think I'll go without a virtual mom this cold season.