Saturday, December 23, 2017

13951: Stepmom Stupidity.

Adweek published diverted diversity dim-wittedness from Frank About Women VP and Associate Director of Strategic Planning Kate Hanley, who identified stepmoms as the latest underrepresented sub-segment in advertising. Hanley, however, proves there’s a surfeit of stupid strategic planners providing useless information under the guise of thought leadership. Pity the creative teams who have to partner with idiots like Hanley—as well as the culturally clueless clients who might buy her bullshit.

As Family Ads Become More Inclusive, One Group Remains Invisible: Stepmoms

It’s a role that’s perhaps most thankless during holidays

By Kate Hanley

Here we are in the thick of the holidays, and brands selling everything from chicken stock to snow tires are painting some pretty cozy pictures of family life. And yet it’s not that magical for all of us.

In fact, 45 percent of Americans would prefer to skip Christmas, according to a study from a few years back. And another study found 42 percent of Americans are part of a stepfamily.


Maybe. But anybody who’s navigated the logistical nightmares and emotional minefields of blended-family holidays knows all too well how fraught they can be. Ensuring that kids get equal time with their parents, that all the stepsiblings and half-siblings feel equally loved, and honoring established traditions while attempting to create new ones can be an emotionally exhausting task.

And often, this thankless burden is shouldered by an unlikely champion: the stepmother.

Yet these efforts often go unnoticed, at best. In the worst cases, stepmoms can be downright demonized for simply existing at the holidays. Even people who’ve never had a stepmom can instinctively bristle at the notion of one. But where does this negative perception come from? While Disney didn’t start it—its wicked stepmothers are simply extensions of a well-established fairy tale tradition—it certainly has kept the myth alive for generations of children.

And sure, it’s easy to blame Disney. But when’s the last time any brand stood up for stepmoms? In an age where brands are eager to showcase inclusivity and to celebrate the changing face of American families—like Honey Maid’s “This Is Wholesome” campaign and Angel Soft’s “Just Dad” spot—we still don’t see a lot of love for stepmoms.

Why not try showing her as the unsung hero she is? For example:

• Shine a spotlight on the emergency maxi-pad run she makes for her stepdaughter … I’m looking at you, Always.

• Give a nod to the never-ending dropping off of left-behind makeup and sports gear to mom’s house. A crossover car for the crossover parent, perhaps?

• What about the invisible products we seldom celebrate? Stepmoms are kinda like Spanx, after all. We want them to be super supportive while we pretend they’re not there.

• If moms need #allthewine (which they do, according to the memes flooding my social media), then maybe there’s a whiskey out there strong enough for #stepmomlife!

So, this holiday season, hug a stepmom. Or better yet, fix her a drink.

It’s time to rethink how you approach today’s American family a bit more.

Kate Hanley

is vp and associate director of strategic planning at Frank About Women, a think tank based at MullenLowe Winston-Salem.

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