Maybe not all hope is lost? Vick’s Vapor Rub commercial

As an NFL quarterback, Drew Brees exemplifies an “all American” dream man, a manly man. But here the same Drew Brees is seen breaking gender roles and rubbing Vapor Rub on, what is portrayed to be, his son to help ease his son out of the discomfort of his sickness.

Could it be? A dad taking care of his child, a task that is regarded as “woman’s work”? It appears to be so. The ad sends a message to all dads: if Drew Brees, quarterback of the Saints, is taking care of his child, there is no shame and no dishonor in doing so. Targeting dads especially, Vick’s is breaking a typical gender role and has audiences noticing and approving. The ad would not, however, be as appealing if it were just a woman doing this for her son; since it is expected of her, the ad would have no effect. But, like Lorber mentions, we fail to notice gender signals until they are skewed.

While the ad is also laced with typical gender roles, i.e. the son’s room is all blue and he is seen with a stuffed football, and both the son and dad are white American males (which exemplifies Kilbourne’s point of white dominance in advertisement), the commercial nonetheless attempts to reverse stereotypical roles of dads.

As consumers we are the ones to blame for how companies advertise. A company’s main goal when advertising is to increase their revenue, thus ads have to appeal to us. If a company produces an ad with suggestive scenes and we don’t buy their product, they will be forced to change their advertising strategies. We are not simply the consumers; we have to realize that we are also the directors. And once we realize this fact, we can revolutionize advertising.

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