Dove #RealMoms ad with transgender parent gets backlash and boycott threats

When I wrote about the Dove "RealMoms", I didn't hide that I thought the creative undermined its own point by including the transgender parent. The biological father who said, "we'll both be moms" with a giggle, while the biological mother wasn't even allowed a speaking part in an advert about mothers. Much like the silent fathers only glimpsed in images with the other couples. This person has now overshadowed everyone else in the commercial as the web reacted to the ad. Our twitter account @Adland was "unfollowed forever" and told to "sit down," which we neglected to do, due to what we wrote about the ad. Erik at Adweek's Agencyspy threw subtle shade at us quoting the line in the ad “Most people feel like they have a license to tell you what they think it means to be a good mom.” Heatstreet wrote about the reactions, and reported that conservative pundit Mark Dice had his facebook temporarily suspended for posting that the ad made him "need some Irish Spring to clean up my puke."

While outlets like Teen Vogue and Bustle are positive about the ad, in places where there's open comments like at AOL there's pushback from the readers.

Dove's Youtube post of the ad has 3,277 dislikes to 400 likes, and comments were disabled the first day after people complained that all the negative comments were being deleted.

The uncensored reactions to the ad can be seen in the twitter replies to Dove and the hashtag, in between bots repeating positive news sources. You can read uncensored reactions on gendercritical radfem blogs or conservative pundit's outlets. That Dove managed to anger two such diametrically opposed groups is a feat in itself. There's no real dialogue on Facebok, as Mark Dice discovered posts like his are removed - while live streamed rapes and murders stay up because nobody reports that for "hate speech."

All the chatter around this Dove ad, whether positive or negative, centres around transgender Shea in the ad. A commercial that was meant to be about mothers became an ad about transgender, and in all of this earned media noise the product and sales pitch are impossible to find. It's Dove baby products. Ads that sell baby products usually center around the baby, because regardless of who is the stay at home parent and primary caregiver they all have one thing in common - they have for a moment in life become a very selfless being who is 24/7 looking after the most beautiful baby in the world. They are 100% focused on baby - and so are the ads. They would show perfect babies being happy with baby oil, face wipes, diapers, baths, soaps and whatever else babies were doing. My copywriter partner years ago, who was a father long before I became a mother, teared up at the sight of this ad. That's the target market for baby products, Dove. Parents.

When Dove removed the focus from the baby, to talk about mothers instead, they lost the target market's attention. And while they were at it, they offended tons of women. Clearly, someone at Dove Unilver HQ thought that their diverse array of moms was empowering somehow, but they all come off as defensive. Right out of the gate the breakdancing mom blurts the "license to tell you" line, and young Jazzie doesn't want to take the advice of the mothers who came before her, scoffing at the advice her great-grandmother gives. Rejecting free advice from people who have experience is so empowering, y'all.
Dove are working from research that says 72% of mothers question whether they are parenting right. Worrying if you are "parenting right" means you're parenting right. Dove added Shea for diversity points, claiming they're a same-sex couple and not a heterosexual couple because they don't know that transgender ideology does not support women, they were just checking off another "type" of woman on their checklist. "Asian? Check! Black? Check! What else do we need to fill the diversity quota?"

Like I stated in the first post, they showed women breaking free from gender roles of what a woman is, but then added a man who claimed womanhood when he broke free from his masculine gender role. That's a contradictory statement - because now you're basically saying that long hair and doting with babies = a woman. Noticing that reduction of womanhood to a hairstyle choice is not bigotry or transphobia.

Here are a few reactions from Twitter, and our post here is still gathering angered comments. My only question now is; how will Dove repair this gaffe? With 76% of moms saying their partner’s involvement helps them pursue what they love outside the family, and with 7 out of 10 dads describing themselves as highly involved one could see why Dove decided to focus on the mothers - but their execution seems defensive and to a large group of people, very offensive. Dove wants a piece of the baby care market, where Millennial moms spend on small brands and organic products. Will the target even remember that this is for baby care at this point?

It has received positive responses on Twitter from Germany and Holland, however.

Comments (10)

  • Dabitch's picture
    Dabitch

    I suppose I could have added this tweet as well, though it's a tiny derail from my point that this is a bad strategy. I was on Kungsgatan 14:45 during the terrorist attack in Stockholm, an event that seems to have obliterated my storage of fucks to give.

    Apr 16, 2017
  • RPN68's picture
    RPN68 (not verified)

    I find extreme fucks-rationing to be helpful, given current reality.

    Apr 16, 2017
  • jane's picture
    jane (not verified)

    Vick's is now being lauded by all the progressive virtue signallers for a tear-jerker ad promoting a male-to-female transgender and "her" child in India. What the heck does this have to do with cold remedies? Why are all these major corporations pushing this everywhere, and not just in the West now? PLEASE MAKE IT STOP.

    REAL WOMEN are being erased, marginalized, and stereotyped by the transgender movement. It is sickening.

    Vick's is now also on my boycott list, and I just emailed them to let them know.

    Apr 17, 2017
  • Going to hell's picture
    Going to hell (not verified)

    Am I bad for continuing the thought of a "chick-list"?
    Black? - Chick!
    Asian? - Chick!
    ...and so on.

    Apr 17, 2017
  • Cristan Williams's picture
    Cristan Williams (not verified)

    You can read uncensored reactions on gendercritical radfem blogs or conservative pundit's outlets. That Dove managed to anger two such diametrically opposed groups is a feat in itself.

    Pfft! James Dobson groups are funding fake "radical feminist" groups that do *nothing* but pearlclutch over the imagined threat trans people (all of a sudden) are causing. Google it.

    If you want to see what actual radical feminists think, read some Andrea Dworkin or see what Catharine Mackinnon have to say about the subject.

    Apr 18, 2017
  • Dabitch's picture
    Dabitch

    Update: It's worth noting that Mark Dice had his Facebook ban lifted, after articles were written about it in far-reaching conservative outlets Breitbart and Heatstreet. This isn't the case for your regular facebook users who don't have newsworthiness or fans in those numbers. The fact that his statement was deleted at all, when live streamed murders, rapes and kidnappings happen unhindered, show that Facebooks strategy relying on users to flag "offensive content" breeds a lot of issues. You get what you pay for, as the saying goes.


    As for Christan Williams comment, my issues with this campaign strategy still stand, regardless of your patronising attempts to retrofit Dworkin to say something that she hasn't. While the articles at outlets such as LGBT nation are positive about the advert, reactions from the readers are very divided. No conspiracy theories are required to explain these reactions.
    And let's be very honest here, lesbian couples and gay couples do get married and adopt children, but not to the same extent as heterosexual couples procreate, and lesbians & gay men are still a minority to heterosexual people. In other words: that's a really small market they're trying to appeal to. If that is happening at the expense of appealing to the larger market - heterosexual couples - Dove's baby products sales are going to have a bad time.
    What surprised Dove, I'm sure, is that the majority of lesbians were offended by this advert, making the people whom this ad appealed to even smaller than they had hoped for. And that is the basic problem with getting into political ideas within ads, your product (if it's not connected to it like a "fair trade" coffee or similar) will disappear in the noise. People know what pandering is.

    Apr 18, 2017
  • Debbie's picture
    Debbie (not verified)

    I'm happy to see the amount of backlash that Dove is facing for this commercial. There is another brand that has done something similar and either women haven't noticed or they are so far left that they do not care. Thinx who makes a product specifically for menstrual cycles has a man modeling the product to show that they are gender inclusive. Please tell me how a man will ever understand what it is like to have a period and painful ones at that. He will never have to experience not being able to go to school like numerous girls in third world countries. He will never have to experience endometriosis, low iron, ovarian cysts, and the bleeding. Why? Because he is not a woman and will never truly know what it is to be woman.

    Apr 20, 2017
  • Ella's picture
    Ella (not verified)

    You've misunderstood the "man" in the Thinx ad modelling their underwear- That's a woman with a mastectomy and hormone therapy who still gets her period, but calls herself a man. Ie; a "trans man." In other words she would need the product offered.

    Trans men are women who are trying to opt out of womanhood, but they still have periods so I guess it doesn't work all that well.

    Whether it's pandering or simply a voice by millennials for millennials depends on who you ask. If you visit Thinx website you'll find they expand the line Panties for people with periods by showing a photo essay of a trans man wearing their thinx boyshort, a model they launched during "trans awareness week" (There's a day/month/week for everything soon).

    That's quoting another article here: https://adland.tv/ooh/thinx-subway-ads-use-conversation-copy

    Apr 20, 2017
  • Kissmekatey's picture
    Kissmekatey

    This has to be the only adsite where the comments veer into Dworkin, and the main writer joins in to correct the absurd misconceptions about her body of work. And they say people in our industry are uneducated.

    Apr 22, 2017

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Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.