I was so excited to respond to JeeIn’s post on the P&G “Best Job” commercial; its emotional appeal and stellar execution make it one of my favorite ad campaigns. And JeeIn and I were not the only ones who thought so- the “Best Job” commercial won ad agency Widen and Kennedy its fourth consecutive commercial Emmy Award for outstanding advertisement (Adweek.com), and here’s why.

P&G’s advertisement capitalized on all the major factors that constitute a successful advertising campaign as outlined by Leiss et al. in their Social Communication in Advertising (347-351): The timing (featuring a campaign designed for the 2012 London Olympic Games), the generation of buzz (winning a commercial Emmy and hitting four million views on YouTube), the international appeal (featuring mothers and future Olympians from around the world), and, above all, the achievement of distinction and exclusivity in a cluttered marketplace, all resulted in a poignant, cohesive campaign. The advertisement succeeds in fulfilling these criteria by playing upon dominant ideas of diversity, maternity, and hard work as a means of achieving greatness.

In their Advertising in the Age of Accelerated Meaning, authors Goldman and Papson discuss how ads focus more on the image and brand rather than the product to cultivate brand loyalty (83). Advertisers do so by using “commodity signs” where they attach certain socially constructed meanings that go beyond the functionality of a single product and represent the organization as a whole (85). We can see this shift in focus from singular product to overall brand especially clearly in P&G products like Tide, a brand that has been around in its present form since 1949. The ad campaigns then were much different; although their main focus was also on mothers and their children, the detergent’s use was presented in a rather tacky, unrealistic environment. The P&G campaign conversely uses very subtle imagery to depict their brand, allowing their products to fade into the backdrop of a larger cultural narrative that is being told.

As JeeIn states, the ad is not a deviation or rebellion from ideology, but a direct response to it. Unlike in my own ad analysis of Dermablend, advertisers used the “Go Beyond the Cover” campaign to interpellate, or hail to “Generation X” by using edgy and unique imagery that goes against the grain, presenting an added shock factor as a way to engage more youthful viewers. The P&G commercial does no such thing; it uses the traditional, dominant ideology of caring mothers tending to their children and drives that notion home by making motherly affection an international, holistic concept. It connotes that mothers from America are the same as mothers from China or Brazil or India, representing feelings of love and affection for a child as a universal truth. Thus, implementing these traditional ideologies in ads is not a question of being more or less effective than more nuanced, edgy ad campaigns; it simply means that different ads are targeted towards different demographics and markets. Proctor and Gamble has shown us that the “nurturing mother” ideology is by no means an outdated one, and still deeply resonates within mothers, parents and children alike.

 

Alina Zafar
Advertising & Society
Short Analysis 2: P&G Response

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