My most recent favourite deconstruction of an advert relates to the new First Choice Holidays ad.
This is an ad of our times in so many ways. It sets up expectations, then delights you by confounding them (romantic music but a meeting of a young boy and father); it really gives you time to think (the whole thing is in slow motion); though the tag line is “We understand family holidays” we aren’t looking at a nuclear family, a female is only present as a voice in this version or in another I have seen recently as a participant coming in from the side who may be a wife, could be a girlfriend, but essentially she isn’t part of the intense father-son relationship.
The whole feel reminded me of this Athena poster which was on everyone’s wall when I was 15…
which is no surpise. The ad, like the poster, appeals to women because biologically we are programmed to look for appropriate fathers for our children and who will provide love and security for them (ok all you feminists out there, we are certainly capable of rising above our biology!) both ad and poster use handsome men that appear to be responsible – golddust :-). And of course, it is mostly be women who organise and choose holidays and they are times when they dream of bonding, even better if their partner bonds with the children and gives them “quality time”.
What’s interesting to me is that the ad can also be read in a completely different way, a way that speaks to the single fathers out there who may only get 1-2 weeks per year to have this kind of “quality time” with their kids. The woman involved in the ad takes rather a back seat and could equally be a girlfriend as a wife.
So, I asked my divorced dad flatmate how the ad made him feel…he said, “confused”. He didn’t understand where the woman in the family was. I suspect that this is because he is still in the period of a divorce when being able to take your kids on holiday is just a pipe-dream. If his situation changes maybe I will bring it up again. But I would be interested to know if any single fathers responded to the ad positively.
PS For the sordid truth behind the man and baby poster check out…