L’eggo My Eggo: the stupid husband phenomenon
February 4, 2011 § 7 Comments
Perhaps you have seen Eggo’s latest ad campaign in which they introduce their new slogan: “So simple you could make them yourself; so delicious you don’t have to.”
If you’re not familiar with this commercial, take a gander here:
Seems innocuous enough, yes? So, what’s A.Hab. got her knickers in a wad for?
What bothers me about this commercial (and yes, others like it) is that it plays into what I call the “stupid husband phenomenon.” I don’t know when this started, but I have become increasingly aware of it in the past, oh, ten years or so. I don’t know how it started, but that hardly seems important. What is important is that this commercial (and the others like it) employs a little tactic where they write a part for a smart, talented, beautiful wife…and her lumbering oaf of a husband.
In this commercial, the husband offers to give his wife an extra 30 minutes in the morning, treating her with breakfast. Wifey seems thrilled by the prospect, happily rolling over and snuggling his newly-abadoned pillow. Hubby behaves as though he’s getting away with something. A little b-ball, a little golf in the kitchen; before he knows it, the 30 minutes he promised her is near up. Uh-oh! Better get those Eggos into the toaster and quick!
All righty, folks, let’s break this down, shall we?
1. As any married person or anyone living with someone else will tell you, getting an extra half hour in the morning is among the best gifts a partner can give. When Robert gives me a kiss and says, “You stay here. I’ll take care of the dogs this morning,” and shuts the bedroom door behind him…what do I do? I go right back to sleep, happily in love with my awesome “30 more minutes” giving husband. Do I care what he does after he feeds the dogs and takes them out? Nope. He could watch television, tool around on his laptop; I really don’t care. I just got 30 extra minutes! So, why does Eggo’s hubby act like he’s getting away with putzing around the house? (As my dad might call it.) His wifey probably doesn’t care. And why doesn’t she? Well, that leads me to my second point.
2. How did those sneaky little Eggos make it into the freezer, folks? Did hubby dash out to the store and surreptitiously bring them into the house, carefully covert? No…he was spending his 30 minutes playing kitchen golf. Those Eggos made it into the house because someone purchased them and brought them home. Is it possible that wifey wasn’t with her husband when the waffles were purchased? Sure. Robert sometimes has to go grocery shopping without me. But is it likely that she wouldn’t have seen them? They have two kids, so she’s probably making breakfasts on weekday mornings (hence the thrill at sleeping in one more half hour). Wifey knows about those waffles, folks. And if she knows about the waffles, why would she have a problem consuming them? She bought them (or at least hubby did); it’s not like it’s a great conspiracy. When hubby tells wifey that he’s going to take care of breakfast and wants her to wait about half an hour, she doesn’t care about what he does with that half hour because either way she’s getting some extra dozing time and breakfast. She’s already won!
The commercial ends with hubby acting like a moron when wifey asks if there is coffee. She already knows there’s no coffee–she nods and has a particular little grin on her face, both suggesting this might be a normal lapse in his memory. Maybe she’s always the one to prepare their morning coffee. Hubby says “yes,” and then quickly, “I will.” Why did he say “yes” in the first place? Why not just say, “I will”? Or, “Oops! I knew I forgot something!” Or any myriad other responses. Why lie? Because he’s a moron, folks. That silly husband. And that funny, smart, beautiful wife. She is so patient with him.
Why are there so many ads that employ this particular tactic? Does it actually sell the product better? The oafish husband is such a tired trope at this point–of all my married friends (and family), I have yet to encounter a truly oafish husband like the ones I see on television. The husbands I’ve encountered are intelligent, caring, and loving. They take pride in providing for their families; hell, they take pride in their families. Let’s just start there. I know that we women tend to joke that our husbands don’t “get” us and that, oh, sometimes we have to repeat ourselves because they weren’t listening the first, second, or third time. But, uh, Robert has repeated himself, too. I space out, too. I get distracted, too. There are times when I don’t “get” what he’s talking about or why he cares about something. Am I a stupid, air-headed wife? Absolutely not.
You know what would really speak to me as an audience member? I would respond quite well to an ad campaign where the husband is depicted as loving his wife and making deliberately thought-out decisions that demonstrate just how much pride he takes in his family.
I understand that Kellogg’s just wanted to make people laugh. I get that. But what are we left laughing at? And at whose expense? It leaves me wondering precisely what they ultimately advertised: their waffles or sexism?