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October 4, 2015

2010 Folgers Ad Sounds Like It Was Made In 1962

by Joel Keller, posted Mar 30th 2010 2:23PM
Late last week, I talked about how, even as a guy, I know that ads for women's hygiene products are silly. Now, I'm going to talk about an advertiser that hasn't been very fair to the fairer sex for decades: Folgers.

We've written about the supermarket coffee brand's saccharine-sweet advertising before. But one thing we haven't explored with their "playing to middle America" series of ads is how poorly women come off in most of them.

Take this ad that debuted late in 2009 and has been airing incessantly ever since:

At first, it looks like a sweet and kind of old-fashioned spot, with a well-meaning if slightly over-protective dad telling his little girl that her new fiance went to him for his blessing to take her hand in marriage. But one line in the ad drives me batty: After the dad says to his daughter that she was out late the night before, she holds out the ring and says "well, you're not gonna have to worry about that anymore."

Gah. I'm no feminist, but I am someone who thinks anyone, regardless of gender, can achieve anything if that person puts his or her mind to it. I just don't think anyone should be dependent on anyone else unless that person chooses to raise children at home and can rely on the other parent (even then, you never know what might happen).

This is why the line "you're not gonna have to worry about that anymore" rankles so much. What it says to me is: "I don't need my daddy to take care of me anymore because I found a man to take care of me." Ugh. Just hearing the line makes my lunch come up a little bit. It sounds like an ad that was created in 1962 instead of 2009, or in a current advertising office where the 85-year-old version of Don Draper is toiling away, bitching about not being able to smoke in the office while sipping whiskey from a diner coffee cup.

As I was trying to find the video to this ad, I saw a post at the female-centric website The Frisky that denounced it, much for the same reasons why I hated it. What surprised me was the reader response to the post. "Must we be offended by everything?" said one reader. "So now family values are offensive?" questioned another. Most of the readers took the ad's side, calling it "sweet" and "old-fashioned."

Those people were missing the point, though. What wasn't offensive was the fact that the dad was worried about his daughter. Dads are genetically programmed to worry about their daughters, no matter how old they are. And even the fact that he and the fiance discussed the engagement behind her back wasn't annoying, even though it sounded like they were negotiating a dowry for her as if she was property.

Nope, it was merely the woman -- who looked like she was in her early twenties -- telling her dad that the responsibility for her care has passed from him to her husband-to-be. I just didn't think people behaved or thought that way in 2010.

If this ad aired in the 'olden' days, though, it would have even been given a second look. In the sixties and early seventies, ads that tied up a woman's worth in how she made coffee for her husband were SOP, but it seemed that Folgers was especially adept at making wives look like scullery maids. This ad, where a husband is driven to near-violence because his wife just can't manage a percolator, is a good example:

So, who do you think Folgers was marketing this ad to? Even in the vast majority of the nation, the area we on the coasts like to snobbishly call "flyover country," women can't feel like they need a man to take care of them at this point, can they? With every self-help book, website, and TV show telling them that they can take care of themselves? Heck, between Oprah and Dr. Phil, you'd think the message would have been delivered to about 95% of the country.

Or do the folks who make Folgers (which is owned by Smucker's, by the way) know something we don't?

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I actually had a bigger problem with the fact that her boyfriend is asking the father for his permission. Why do they never ask for the mother's permission? Why ask for anyone other than the daughter's permission (it's her life, after all)? The implication of a father "giving his blessing" is that the father someone owns or controls the daughter or that he acts as the "head of house". It's a patriarchal relic from when fathers arranged marriages for their daughters. Granted, in the commercial (and in modern western culture) it's really only a formality, but it's none-the-less a subtle sexist statement.

April 24 2010 at 1:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Katie M.

I have to say that I totally agree with you, Joel! In fact, I had gone into a very similar diatribe over this very ad to my mother a few weeks ago. I hated the ad and I grew up in so-called "fly-over country"-- southwest lower Michigan-- and currently live in a town in MI with fewer than 4,000 people in it (though I don't believe that where you're from plays any role in how progressive or how conservative you are-- it all depends on how you were brought up, your life experiences, and how you, as an individual, see the world). I saw the ad exactly as you did and did not gain any comfort in the fact that the dad cared for his daughter. The ad is stupid, insipid and way too old-fashioned (and not in a "good" old-fashioned way). Thank you, Joel, for making me feel like I'm not the only one who was so bothered by a stupid coffee commercial.

April 05 2010 at 5:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike Davis

It's. A. Coffee. Ad.

March 31 2010 at 1:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Oh spare me. Any parent worries when their child is out late. Parents worry; that's part of their job. I'd worry if my 80-something mother was out late. Don't worry anymore could be that the daughter is getting married, or moving into her own apartment ... whatever. I'm from the original feminist generation and don't see a damn thing wrong with the father's feelings or the future son-in-law talking to the father to say how much he loves the girl. It's not necessary, but it's sweet.

March 31 2010 at 3:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The fact that you typed all this out shows that you are a feminist and that's nothing to be ashamed of.

March 31 2010 at 2:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't know about you but I ready to call 911 for that poor woman in the vintage commercial. I thought for sure that husband was going to knock her around the patio for serving him that nasty coffee.

March 31 2010 at 12:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ok so maybe I need to clarify my comment, as so many have misinterpreted it.
I meant, that because the father nor the fiance told the daughter they spoke, if I were the daughter I would have been put out that dad let me go on about it all, and future hubby didn't bother to mention that he spoke with my father privately.

In my personal experience, those who have "asked for my hand", did so prior to speaking with my father, and once they got the "ok", went on to speak privately with him.
I guess I just didn't put my thoughts as clearly as I had planned.

March 30 2010 at 9:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This sure does seem to be much ado over nothing. I know it's a TV blog but who cares about generic commercials?

BTW, people who think it's ridiculous to ask a father's permission or inform them of their intentions to propose come off as people who have zero respect for parents and families.

March 30 2010 at 7:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

>>What it says to me is: "I don't need my daddy to take care of me anymore because I found a man to take care of me."

You're offended by your own imagination. There's no reason to think that she needs to be taken care of by her dad or her fiance. All she said is that she's moving out after she gets married.

March 30 2010 at 6:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

AGAIN, people make way too much out of nothing! Then again if you ever talk to enough young people you'd be surprised at how many girls want to just get married and have babies. That doesn't come from commercials.

March 30 2010 at 6:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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