P&G says “Thank you Mom.” Well, some moms.

The “Thank You Mom” ad from P&G in support of the Olympics is taking the parenting and advertising worlds by storm. How awesome that there’s an entire big, expensive, perfectly produced anthem spot from a big brand, that acknowledges the role of supportive mothers in a young athlete’s life– [edited for clarity] especially when the media tends to portray dads first as the little league coaches and sports enablers; soccer moms not withstanding.

P&G thank you mom commercial

In fact the spot is so wildly awesome and popular, evidently I’m the only person that has one teeny tiny little problem with it.

If you haven’t seen the 2-minute spot yet, it opens with a series of moms around the world waking their kids at the crack of dawn, making them breakfast, driving them to practice, watching their uniforms, washing their dishes, making their beds, attending all their practices, tending to their injuries and then finally, tearfully, watching their Olympic performances.

It’s exquisite. And I dare you not to cry.

(You too, menfolk.)

The spot ends with the beautiful line: The hardest job in the world is the best job in the world.

There’s only one thing and geez, P&G I hate to nitpick on such a thing of beauty and loveliness and maybe I’m the only one weird person in the world who feels this way and please don’t get mad at me, but: not one working mom?

Just one?

In the whole 120 seconds (a year in advertising terms), you couldn’t throw us a single bone, P&G? Maybe one vignette of a mom looking at her watch and racing out of the workplace to make it in time to pick the kid up at practice. One quick shot of a mom in business clothes with a briefcase hustling her kid into the car. One image of a mom looking up from a Blackberry, instead of a magazine, alone in the folding chairs in the gym. One shot of a salon owner with photos of her swimming prodigy plastered proudly around the mirror at her station.

Don’t get me wrong – I love this ad. I love when moms get recognition for their generally unacknowledged contributions, in any form. I guess I’m just feeling, deep down, that the collective moms of the world do more for their kids than laundry and dishes and carpooling. Some of us actually pay for all those gymnastics lessons too.


76 thoughts on “P&G says “Thank you Mom.” Well, some moms.”

  1. Do you know who made the ad?

    yeah, interesting that they emphasized global diversity but not the diversity you’re talking about. it’s hard to be all things to all people, but obviously you can do a lot in a 2-minute spot.

      1. I went to a rehearsal dinner at Weiden+Kennedy, and was so completely overwhelmed by its awesomeness as a space and a place for creativity and thinking.

        I also felt the harsh reality of my uncoolness.

  2. As a mom who does a lot of the ‘shlepping’ depicted – I rarely see a mom reading a magazine, but what I do see is what you describe – rushing, blackberries, iPhones, siblings on iPads, and Subway sandwiches in the car.

    Seems so 1950’s to leave that all out.

  3. Ooh, that is tear inducing, isn’t it? Good choice of music.

    I’m not entirely convinced none of those fictional moms work paying jobs. I think the ad focused on the least acknowledged contributions of those moms, such as folding laundry. Working has publicly acknowledged rewards already. I’m a working mom, and I’d have been the one with the magazine.

    1. I would love to think that’s what it is but perhaps it’s more about selling laundry and dish detergent.

      1. Yes, but I believe the sentiment is very sincere. And they’re backing it up with programs like giving all 800 Olympic families a $1000 gift card to support the travel expenses to the Olympics. I’m all for corporate do-gooding from big companies, whatever the end profit motive.

        1. I totally agree. And that’s wonderful, I had no idea they were doing that.

  4. I find it interesting that moms shelp, cook, wash and bandage but dads are imagined to instruct, coach and mentor. You’re perpetuating that same myth: “we generally tend to think of dads first as the little league coaches and sports enablers,” Having read your blog for years I don’t really think you believe that. Included in a better ad would be a dad hugging a child, or scrubbing grass stains from a uniform and some moms on the field.

    1. Ooh good call, Jill. Bad choice of words. I meant to express “we” as the media and “think” as portray. I’ll fix.

    2. Or a dad working overtime or an extra job to PAY for private lessons/training.

      My son plays high-level competitive travel baseball, and while *I* do the majority of the things in that commercial (willingly and gladly), I can only do them because my husband works all the overtime he can so that we can pay for the travel and the lessons, etc.

      I don’t like these commercials because I think they glorify the “sacrifice” of moms at the expense of the same sacrifice of dads. Why can’t P&G do a “Thanks, Mom & Dad” campaign?

      1. You want the marketing reason?

        P&G sells detergent to moms. It’s their core audience. So…a spot targeting them and thanking them is a good business decision.

        1. I’m one of those Dad that does 100% of the grocery shopping.
          Guess whose products I no longer buy?

          Also interesting, I’m spending less on my grocery bill.

          For the record, I’m the one who takes my daughters to all of their lessons & practices. Mom doesn’t want to miss her shows.

      2. Thank you, Lisa, for taking the time to state what you’ve observed. Where there are two parents, most sacrifice/commit/dedicate themselves TOGETHER for their children.

  5. That made me cry. Thanks for starting my day with puffy eyes!

    I see your point but I saw it more as a way to try to stick with the parts of parenting that all of us have to manage -cooking, laundry, schlepping. After all, (and I mean no disrespect to anyone) many mothers need housekeepers &/or nannys in order to be able to work outside the home. Showing someone in a maid’s uniform doing the laundry just isn’t the same (unless it is a mother who also works as a maid who is doing her family’s laundry, and happens to be wearing her work uniform and… this is becoming a vortex of political correctness so I will go back to my original point). I saw this as an ad that is trying to be more general and take the whole Mommy Wars part out of it. There is no way to apply anything to all families. It doesn’t matter if we work outside the home or work as a stay at home mom – the schlepping/cleaning/feeding and most importantly, loving, is universal.

    Full disclosure – I worked outside the home for years and we had a wonderful nanny so I am not at all judgy, I’m just making a point.

    1. Well, I don’t think it’s a mommy wars issue and sheesh, I hope this isn’t leading you to believe that. Honestly, it’s advertising. P&G sells laundry detergent and cleaning products and so this is how the brand ties its sales message into the spot. I get that. And I have no problem at all showing moms cleaning up and making breakfast – we do. Even us working moms “with help.” Forget political correctness; I’m just thinking one tiny little scene of a mom on a Blackberry? 1.5 seconds, then out would be a super cool 21st century thing to do. It would be super fast. Swear.

    2. See, that actually bugs me more than the ad ever would. The number of working parents, and moms, who can afford a nanny? A maid? That’s slim and shows a whole heck of a lot of white privilege to think that is the norm. Most of us working moms do the laundry ourselves, do the dishes, clean the house. If we’re lucky we have a spouse who does their fair share of it too. And yes, some of us do it with our blackberries and our laptops in the trunk in case we get called to work.
      Yes, I would have liked to have seen more representations of working moms in the ad. However, as far as the working moms I know, most of them don’t have blackberries or tech. They work hourly jobs where that isn’t required or needed. They take unpaid time to take care of their kids, share jobs, work off shifts, etc. I understand I’m in a minority to be a working mom with a good paying job, good benefits, and the option to work from home when I want to.

      1. That’s a good point bout tech…but it was just a simple suggestion as to how to indicate “working mother” in the ad. I’m sure there are tons.

  6. These ads make me bawl like a baby.

    But, I agree. They are not me. The single, working mom, rushing to and from work to shuttle my daughter to soccer or to ballet. *sigh* If it was me, they would show a mom that puling the ballet leotard or soccer uniform out of the dirty laundry, smelling it, and handing it to the child with a shrug while trying to listen to a conference call on my iPhone. Cause, that is TOTALLY me.

    But, hey! It’s a start, right?

  7. Yup, crying here.

    However, I would love to see a mom who gets tired and frustrated with the shelping to know I’m not the only one who feels that way sometimes!

    Other than that, it’s great that the world takes notice of all we do and how important we are. Now if we could only make the people who run our government realize it.

  8. When I saw that you had a criticism of this ad I thought certainly that you were going to bring up the fact that we were watching a world where dads don’t exist. Apparently dad is dead or at home in his easy chair. We know mom works hard, but there is also someone else that works equally as hard, DAD. To nitpick and say that working moms are present in this is almost comical.

    1. Sure, dead. Or they’re….at work?

      Thanking moms doesn’t mean dads don’t deserve thanks. The same way Gillette’s Thanks Dad campaign didn’t imply anything negative about the role of mothers to me.

  9. Too be fair to the men, I’ve never seen a commercial with them holding the BB, on the conference call and in a suit AND coaching and mentoring, etc. Many men who do want to do even the stereotypical thing such as coaching and showing up to their kids games can’t do even that because they are at the office busting their butts trying to pay for the hockey equipment and travel to tournaments etc. My husband would have been one of the ones on the Blackberry. The commercial assumes that both parents have dropped everything to dedicate their lives to their kids. It’s everyones ideal….. Now if you really want to talk about the missing reality…. What about the parents sitting in the bleachers watching the game and an autistic sibling screaming through the whole game!!

  10. this ad was fairly relatable to me, since even as a full-time working mom i do a lot of the laundry folding, dish washing, driving to and from various engagements, etc. (and somehow usually in sweats rather than a suit). it’s always nice to get thanks for what may be considered the more ‘thankless’ jobs of parenthood. while i do agree that it would be nice to see some business attire or a tiny (more obvious) tribute to a working parent, i do have to say that this ad does a wonderful job of marketing directly to the intended target audience.

    although that did bring up a separate point for me, which is the question of whether or not my family is so different from the norm. for us, my husband makes purchases of laundry and dish detergent, and as such he is the decision-maker behind which brands we use. i could really care less. he also does all of our grocery shopping (and cooking). an ad for household goods targeted towards men like that would be nice, too 🙂

  11. I agree with you. I don’t want to downplay those women who “sacrifice” self almost completely for their kids because that suggests: 1) This is the only way one can be a good mother and 2) That women who have a paying job in addition to their mothering responsibilities don’t sacrifice. I also think it reinforces this idea that only moms do (and, perhaps, should) laundry. Or make breakfast. Or get kids to sports practice. Dads do it–for sure–but I still think our society give them a pass when they don’t. Also? I think they make them out to be bigger heroes when they do. I’m conflicted and yet this ad makes me cry too.

  12. I also get the fact that P&G sells detergent and that women buy and use it more than men do. So…factor that in to my last comment.

  13. Sigh. I guess I’ll be the one who just plain loves the ad. I love them all. I really do. Shrug. Not everything needs to be all of encompassing. It’s a two minute ad to thank moms of Olympians. Why can’t it just be okay that it’s that?

    Do I think there should be more ads with fathers that don’t show them as giant morons? Yes. I do. Do I thing there should be more ads that show moms who work. Hell yes.

    I also think it’s okay that this ad campaign wasn’t that.

    1. I agree on the dad front. I think that thanking one person doesn’t mean you don’t also appreciate the other. Not every ad can include all possibly permutations (Hey! where’s the lesbian moms? Where’s the stepparents?)

      I just think one teeny little Blackberry shot…well, you know.

      1. Like the huggies ad, my hackles didn’t go up on this until the tagline. It would have been fine had it just ended with “Thanks Mom.” But the superlative, “hardest job,” is what irked me. Makes it sound like dads are just dicking around. Also, seriously? THE hardest job? I’m a stay at home parent, and I’ve it’s not even in the top 4 hardest jobs I’ve had. Maybe I’m doing it wrong.

        Also, maybe parenting is not actually a job? Look out! Link bomb!


      2. I do get that. I really do. I’m not saying you’re wrong.

        ps. Is there any way you can add something that send an email when someone replies to a comment? (I rarely remember to check back.)

          1. Hmmm not sure. I pay someone else to do that stuff for me. Ha. I thought it was part of Comment Luv but you already have that.

  14. Out of a room of at least 250 soccer coaches at a pre-season meeting last fall, I was one of what appeared to be four, maybe five female coaches. Of those, I’ll bet I’m the only one coaching boys.

    I loved the commercial, but I’d have liked one image of a mom as coach, so I feel less alone.

    I’d also like a unicorn. Maybe two.

    1. There was a female gymnastics coach who may or have not been a mom. Does that count? Also, we could CG in a unicorn.

  15. I’ve been thinking about these spots a lot and I have to say I think they are great and the criticism I have isn’t the same as yours–I want a “Thank You Dad” ad. My husband rushes my son off to gymnastics more regularly than I do. I pick him up, but the hubs takes him. It’s my husband who coaches him at baseball, etc.

    And to piggy back on what Rainbow Motel said–it’s my husband who does the majority of our laundry.

    All this said–I do love the commercials–but still wish there was one thanking dads.

        1. me too!! Didn’t give me the same feeling as the P&G ad though. I still think, although your primary target is women, if it’s about making your audience feel good, you could still include a dad in the mix, just as much as a mom on her blackberry, and the ad would still hit the point they are trying to make. Just, thanks. Parenting is hard. And the best job in the world. It was just a bit too one-sided to me.

          1. or maybe it’s just that I’d rather have seen teamwork between mom & dad over the years. Dad doing the dishes after dinner while Mom is getting the bags/equipment ready. Dad warming up the car while mom runs from the laundry room w/ a clean towel. Women may be the primary purchasers of their products but I think could still relate to an ad that showcased dads in the equation. There, now I feel better. 🙂

  16. That’s interesting. I’ve watched this spot a number of times (& cried EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.) but I didn’t pick up on that. I think because I assumed that they *were* working moms. Coming from a household with a working mother and being surrounded by them daily (as well as being one myself), I think I just assumed that at least some of them were working moms.

    That said, now that you mention it, it would have been far more realistic to see a mom working on her phone or otherwise juggling those responsiblities.

    1. Yeah, I’m with you. I assumed they were working moms, too. Especially since I also watched some of the extended ones in Spanish that P&G did for Mexican, South and Central American Olympians and they were all portraying working mothers.

  17. How funny, you know that thought didn’t even dawn on me. And I’m one of those working Moms! I come to work extra early on gymnastic and ballet days just so I can be home in time to take them (WITH my hubs, the SAHD). While it would have been nice to see “myself” in the ad, I was just caught up in the sentimentality of the fact that maybe that could be my kids someday.

  18. I totally agree with you. In fact, I told colleagues of mine recently what a miss it was that P&G didn’t have working Moms and Dads in this spot. My colleague sent me the link to your post to say that someone else agree with you.

    So the (former big agency)cynic in me also knows that this spot is the result of all the product line managers too. They want to see their soap in action. That is more important than the reflection of full dimension of our lives. Yeah, I do a lot of laundry for my seven-year-old baseball player. But there is a whole lot more to me than that.


  19. Well, you see, they couldn’t put the working mom in there because she would be so distraught with guilt that it would make us all run out and buy anti-depressants instead of cleaning products. (Kidding, kidding, please don’t maim me!)

  20. The ad does pull at the heart strings, but there’s a part of me watching it and thinking, “Did that kid really want to do all that work?” How amazing to be an Olympic athlete, but I wonder if some of those kids would rather be playing with their friends. Then I start musing on how many kids feel pressured by their mom or dad to be a superstar. I’m sure it’s not just in pageants. More than anything, the commercial makes me think about the hard work the athletes are putting in. Is that weird of me?

  21. This ad brings to mind an old Bill Cosby joke (later stolen by Carlos Mencia), about teaching his son to play football. He spends years doing it, all through grade school, junior high, high school, motivating coaching teaching. Eventually his son goes to college to play football and is a big star and scores a touchdown on national television, turns to the TV and says “Hi Mom!”


    It’s at the 40:27 mark.

    Not picking nits about the ad; just remembering a joke.

  22. you know, really, so much in life comes down to laundry, which is weird in a way because wearing socks inside out (and then outside in, again, for a max of three wearings, unless it’s raining one of those days…) really isn’t that much of a problem. And re-wearing the soccer shirt/leotard/jersey is fine until, roughly, puberty, when one’s babies start to SMELL. Which is about the time they should be bloody well taught how to do their own laundry.

    1. Ha. I think that’s why, when I started playing basketball and soccer in the same season, my mom made me do my own laundry. I was 10.

      I’m now contemplating if my five-year-old can be trusted with putting in the right amount of detergent…is that bad?

  23. I’m going to go on record of running against usual sentiment here: I don’t think we have credibility to ask for “working mom” in the add before we cleared out “dad” issue. Yes, I was tearful watching the add couple of months back. And yes, bot me and my husband had identical immediate take: really, MOMS ONLY??? What a frak?

    If the mom:dad laundry ratio justifies P&G and their add agency to target moms only, then working mom:SAHM ratio of add watching totally justifies sacrificial mom portrayed in the add. Sorry folks, these adds are mostly aired during your working hours, so we will not bother with including you.

    And there is the problem with the add: targeting. I know adds have to have defined audience, but this kind of black-and-white targeting is no better then “friendship-unicorns-pink” for girls, “battle-action-black” for boys. I personally think of this kind of advertising pressure more dangerous to healthy social mom/dad/parenting/husband/wife images then sexting tips in cosmo. Cosmo has to be bought and read, this will be plastered on every channel all the time. Not to be avoided, and certainly not to be missed by my daughter and son. What will they think of their parenting roles after seeing this add? No thank you, I would still rather have Corona’s adds. No problem of including both sexes and being successfully about it.

  24. The ads not perfect, but it’s a start. Still wiping up tears.

  25. Good point! That would have been nice, although I have to admit that I just identified with it as a mom, and cried as expected.

  26. I love the commercial and couldn’t wait to see it again after reading your post. I agree, working moms build up their children too, and we do it in heels! Thanks for the post.

  27. I’m a working mom who doesn’t “look” much like a working mom (no suit, no blackberry, no briefcase). I just assumed all those moms in the commercial were, like me, headed back to work after their laundry and schlepping.

    I do get sick of the “hardest job in the world” crap. No. It’s. Not.

  28. It never occurred to me these moms are stay at home moms. I’ve seen the commercial several times and still don’t think it portrays the moms in the commercial as shams. I love love love your blog and please don’t be offended by this but to find mommy wars controversy in this ad seems like you might be projecting a little.

  29. Funny, I had the same thought when I first saw it. But then as an ad-girl myself I could just see the client response in my head when that question undoubtedly came up at some point.

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