Earlier today, a friend of mine posted a link to a commercial made by Honey Maid that features several different families goofing around while sentimental music played in the background. What made this commercial stand out to so many people was the purposeful use of diverse types of families: there’s an interracial family, a family that features a tattooed, “punk rock” looking father, a single dad, and a gay couple. The marketing slogan for the commercial is “This is wholesome”. Over the sentimental soundtrack, the voice over says “No matter how things change, what makes us wholesome never will.” And then after that, it advertises “wholesome snacks for wholesome families”.
I really liked the video, aside from the obviousness of it. It may seem like such an obvious, easy thing to do, to incorporate families that aren’t completely white and heterosexual and heteronormative in other ways, but Cheerios released a similar commercial about a year ago and received, amongst the praise, a ton of backlash.
Something that I can’t stop thinking about is the choice to use the word “wholesome”. Honey Maid is a large, successful company, and I have no doubt that they have the means to employ experienced advertisement and public relations workers to help brand their new campaign. We can assume the word choice here is very deliberate. So why “wholesome”? What does that word evoke that Honey Maid really wanted to capitalize on?
To me, it may have been a very intentional dig at the way non-traditional (those who are not white, heterosexual, Christian, etc) families or individuals are portrayed or stereotyped. Some of the common derogatory insults thrown at those who identify as LGBTQ, or who are a person of color, or are an individual involved in an interracial relationship are words that evoke barbaric or immoral associations. “That’s not normal” is one that is, while simple, incredibly damaging. “Wholesome” is a very loaded word. It makes me think of a white, heterosexual family with a mom, a dad, a son, a daughter and a golden retriever in the 1950’s, sitting down in their suburban home to watch “I Love Lucy”. It brings up this sense of normalcy, of rationality, which is exactly what opponents of what Honey Maid’s video stands for would argue is missing from these diverse families.
Do you guys agree? Do you think the choice of “wholesome” is successful? Honey Maid never explicitly comes out and says “these families are diverse. They are families of different races, socioeconomic backgrounds, and sexual orientation”. Does this lack of an explicit explanation of the video further the message, or leave something to be desired? Is it enough to simply show, and not tell?