How was your Christmas? It was all about family right? At least that’s what the many Christmas adverts try to drum into us every year. We realised we were entirely bored of seeing mums rushed off their feet while dad sits reading the paper – both Morrisons and Asda took this line this year, sparking a whirlwind of complaints from outraged mums calling it an inaccurate and sexist depiction of how a family prepares for Christmas.
Whether or not we agree with the idea that Mum does it all at Christmas, there is no arguing that the idea is tired and old-fashioned – families by no means consist of mum, dad and 2.4 children these days. They are instead much more fluid, with children moving back in with their parents well into their late 20s, and multiple occupancy housing becoming more and more common.
In this sea of tired adverts showing these distinctly un-average families, we have noticed a few more refreshing ways of depicting families. We are beginning to see a much more playful take on the family dynamic, with age and gender roles being turned on their heads.
Brands like Ikea and Ecover show adults behaving like children, while HSBC and The Money Advice Service, as well as UK sitcom Outnumbered, show children depicted as protagonists and outsmarting their adult counterparts.
Gender roles are also being played with. The recent Sainsbury’s ad shows Dad as the main caregiver, while the Google Chrome advert tells the story of Julie Dean – “Mum and trendsetter” who builds a hugely successful business from home.
We could argue that this has been a long time coming, it’s great to see these very out-of-date family stereotypes being played with in this way, and we would definitely like to see more of this in 2013.