I often find myself watching ESPN, not because I am a huge sports fan but because I live with one. The sports fan in my house especially enjoys turning on a particular sporting event or SportsCenter and then wandering off during the first commercial break. I could change the channel or turn off the tv (or get rid of it all together) but that is not the point. The point is that I often find myself on the couch watching commercials not meant for me.
How do I know these commercials are not for me… well this one tells me straight up that the product is “not for women“. How is Dr Pepper not for me? Personally, I don’t even like Dr Pepper but I didn’t know that it was a boys only product. I can understand the (false) assumption that fantasy football is just for boys, but soda? I guess I should stick with pink drinks (because non-pink 5-hour energy is for boys).
The other commercial that really bothers me is a series of commercials for DirecTV. In these commercials a man (husband and father) is antagonistic towards his wife for a variety of reasons such as her unwillingness to walk around naked for him. In another one, their children ask about the DVR and he provides a long answer about how Mom records too many shows and doesn’t do anything for him anymore (this one is not on YouTube). The wife is portrayed as a buzzkill and while DirecTV won’t get her to fulfill his fantasies it will at least resolve the problems with the DVR. Well if wives are problems then I am a problem. Do women (wives, mothers) not make cable related decisions? We probably should since we are the ones recklessly recording way too many shows.
There has been a lot of reaction to the Bic “lady” pens and the Honda Fit She’s but I have not heard anyone complaining about Dr Pepper for men. In fact this is the only reaction I saw to the DirecTV ad and as the comment section shows most commenters think “you should lighten up”. I am not offended that the commercial appeals to men or by the premise that husbands want to see their wives naked. But I am offended that DirecTV and Dr Pepper don’t see me as a potential customer. So many products are unnecessarily gendered and what is the harm in that? We live in a gendered and capitalistic world. It is clear that there are spaces where people (men) feel women “don’t belong” such as online gaming, the geek world, and skeptic conventions but why is Dr Pepper consumption and Cable watching assumed to be a man’s space? At least the Egyptian company Arab Dairy (makers of Panda cheese) knows how to make a funny commercial without making women feel unwelcome.