This message brought to you by the Ad Council and…

Ad Council_blueDad (confused and frustrated voice): “There are so many day cares, how am I supposed to know which one is best? Our friend recommends this one, but your sister recommends this one.”

Mom (in a self-confident voice): “Go to this website, it’s all laid out for you”

Dad: “Wow! There it is, thanks honey.”

Kid: “Yeah, thanks Mom!”

Mom (in a slightly arrogant voice): “You’re welcome, both of you”

Voice-over: “This message brought to you by the Ad Council and…”


Guy: “If a natural disaster happens, our meeting place is the park…”

Teen Girl: “If there’s an emergency, our family will meet at our friend’s house…”

Voice-over (snotty voice): “Is your plan any better? Go to ready-dot-gov”

Other voice-over: “this message brought to you by the Ad Council”


What IS it with the Ad Council?

Ok, I’ll admit, I listen to AM radio much of the day. It’s on in the background of our lives, so often I’m not actively listening, it’s just there. (I know, waste of energy. I don’t use air conditioning much, so it balances.) But it’s amazing to me just how many Ad Council radio advertisements our station carries. Every break, there’s at least one, usually two or three. And often, they’re running back-to-back. And every single one of them is telling me how to live my life…

  • How to eat
  • How to feed my child
  • How to discipline my child
  • How my husband (evil man that he is) should deal with our child
  • How I should protect my family in an emergency
  • That I shouldn’t drink/smoke/do drugs
  • That I shouldn’t drive if I HAVE been drinking/smoking/doing drugs
  • How I should interact with other people, especially if they’re (fill in group here)
  • And the list goes on, seemingly forever.

All of these ads are “brought to you by the Ad Council and x-group”.

Yes, I get that a lot of organizations want to get their message out there, and I get that, like everything else, it must be subsidized by the federal government (will NOT approach that soapbox… will resist that soapbox…). But do they have to be so condescending? I mean, seriously, that first one above has been running for a good three years now, and it just grates on me, every time I hear it. Steve says that I over think it. He doesn’t think it’s condescending at all, but the way I’m hearing it is that the dad is stupid, and here comes the mom, swooping in to help her inept husband and her worshipful child. So here’s my question for that mom… if you want reliable daycare for your child, and you already know about this website, and you’ve already done the research, WHY are you letting your husband flounder around looking at these other websites, when you already KNOW about this magical site that’s going to give you all the answers??? Why wouldn’t you just say, “Hey, honey, here are the two daycares I’ve narrowed it down to, and this is the rating site that backs up my thoughts,” instead of being all, “Oh, HERE you go…. I already knew about it, but now I’m bestowing this information on you, my faithful serf.”

Makes me want to rip out my hair.

So we come to the second one, the ad for the site “”, maintained by FEMA (at least that’s what it looks like). That voice-over person’s voice is so arrogant when she says, “is your plan any better?” She sounds like a bratty little girl on the playground taunting her friends, “I have a Bratz doll… you only have stupid Barbies.” Just the tone of the ad makes me want to avoid “” like the plague.

And then there’s the Piece de Resistance: “You don’t have to be a perfect parent to be the perfect parent. There are plenty of teens waiting to be adopted.”

This quote is included in two separate ads. One is a man practicing his “dad phrases”… “don’t make me come back there”, “quit doing that”, “One more time and I’ll turn this car around”, and lamenting that he can’t make it sound as credible as HIS dad did. Well, of course not, you moron! You sound like a New-Age Metrosexual, ultra-feminized, neutered modern guy! (again, I digress). Man up, dude! Need some pointers? Go listen to “I’m Still a Guy” by Brad Paisley. THEN try those phrases.

The other ad for this same program has an adult and a kid discussing school questions. Of course, the adult doesn’t know any of the answers. The voice-over comes on with that quote above… “you don’t have to be a perfect parent…”

Those ads are inevitably followed by ads for Child Protective Services and Human Services, admonishing me to go to their parenting classes, so I can learn to “properly” parent my own child…

  • Discipline
  • How to feed my child
  • How much physical activity he/she should have
  • How much time to spend with him/her

Ok, fine. I get it. But apparently, I have to be a perfect parent to my OWN children – I can’t discipline them in my own way (read: spanking), I can’t feed them what I want (read: send sugar, cold cuts, or God forbid…peanuts in their lunch), or myriad other parenting norms, or Child Protective Services will be breathing down my neck, threatening to take my kid away…. And give him to one of those “not-so-perfect-perfect-parents” that their ad campaign is looking for!!!

So, I guess the point of this rant is this: I just wish the Ad Council would take their own touchy-feely classes, and learn to speak nicely to the people they are advertising to. Rule #1 in dealing with people that you want to utilize your services is… DON’T BE CONDESCENDING. Rule #2, if it isn’t already a rule, should be “be consistent in your message”. Don’t tell me that I have to be the perfect parent to my own child, and then turn around and tell me that I DON’T have to be perfect to parent someone else’s kid that you’ve taken away.

Or a better solution, the Ad Council could just go away, and the government could give me back the money they took from me to fund that ridiculous program. I know, I know…. You can hit the “comment” button later, when you’ve finished laughing and picked yourself up off the floor.

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9 Responses to This message brought to you by the Ad Council and…

  1. SKL says:

    I don’t know much about the Ad Council and I don’t listen to AM radio, so I can’t say too much that’s on point. But I totally agree with your point about hoping to win people over by being condescending. Of course, that does seem to work pretty well with stupid people, and as we all know, we will always have plenty of those. But the rest of us – oh, I suppose we are not the audience anyway.

    I don’t know about the funding of the Ad Council and I’m thinking I don’t want to know. If I were expecting government accountability (HA!), I would want to see some evidence that taxpayer-funded ads benefited a cross-section of society, and not just idiots. But what taxpayer-funded expense ever met that test?

    But I love the idea of them just giving our money back. I had a brief vision as I read that part of your article. The government had decided to scrap itself and pay back all the tax money that they hadn’t already spent (yeah, like there is any unspent revenue). They set up an administration and hired a lot of people and used said tax money to fund it. Each US taxpayer was mailed a check for $.01. Yeah, I got a chuckle.

    You know what else I would love to see – an independent ad organization funding a series of ads that say: “Spare the rod and spoil the child! Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and you are not your own! Fight educational incompetence and liberal indoctrination – home school! Keep liberal rags out of the reach of children!” How come we never hear these ads?

  2. Sue says:

    *Applause* Great post Laura. You’ve said everything so well, I really don’t need to say anything!

  3. SKL says:

    On a more substantive point, what do they believe they accomplish by pushing older-child adoption via radio? Is there any evidence that successful placements are increased in this manner? It takes a special kind of person to successfully bring a troubled youngster into his/her family. “You don’t have to be a perfect parent” is true, but the context makes it sound like it’s just peaches and cream. As in, you don’t have to be Michael Phelps to survive a tsunami.

    If those ads actually increased the number of placements, I would be concerned that many would be failed placements, because the realities of older-child adoption are a lot different from what the ad attempts to portray. Most likely folks would just get to the point of investigating and deciding not to do it. So it would be a waste of money on both sides and probably some heartache too.

    Of course I have nothing against older-child adoption, just the way they are promoting it. It is too deep a matter to be dealt with in that way.

    • Laura says:

      Ah, SKL, you hit another nail right on the head. I was flummoxed the first time I heard that “adopt a teen” ad. Based on experience I only have in my head, I would think that adopting an older child would be FAR more difficult than adopting an infant or young child (toddler age), and yet, the only ads I hear for infant/child adoption are those put up by the LDS/Mormon Church (“adoption – it’s about love”). I suppose we could analyze why that is… perhaps our current gov’t is too preoccupied by Planned Parenthood and pushing abortions, to concern itself with adoptions?

      I could not imagine the complexities of adopting an older child. I have a cousin who welcomed a toddler into their home, and they had plenty of adjustment problems. All normal, but they existed, nonetheless. I could not imagine that adopting an older child would be the walk in the park that these ads imply – all video games and junk food, and no drug/alcohol/behavior/abuse/adjustment problems that may have lead to the teen needing adoption in the first place.

      • SKL says:

        I follow some Websites of families who have done older child adoptions. They are a gift from God – as are their kids – but it is an extremely tough journey that spans many years. And chances are that you never get to the point where it’s all roses and flowers, because many of these kids have developmental issues that no amount of great parenting can correct. There’s a thing called “respite” and another called “adopting through a disruption” because many well-meaning families are pushed beyond the limit, making the child’s journey that much more difficult. I’m not saying it’s not worth it – but most people truly aren’t cut out for it. And you can’t harmlessly dabble in adoption. If you can’t see it through, it’s best for everyone if you don’t even try.

        Adoption / foster care is in much greater need of reform in this country than health care. Funny nobody in the government ever mentions that. Oh, that’s right, most of the problems are in organizations that the public already runs. No opportunity to nationalize an industry. Dud idea, SKL.

  4. Joy says:

    I agree, this is a great post Laura. I don’t listen to AM radio EVER so honestly, I’m not even sure I’ve ever heard one of these. I can say though, the first one would really irritate me in a hurry. I agree with you, why does the woman have to swoop in and save the day over daycare?? It sounds so damn silly.

    I also can’t stand condescending attitudes. I’m not really a fan of sarcasm either when it’s something serious. I’m surprised that this “talking down” to people still goes on with all the PC crap everyone is always talking about.

    The whole adopting teens too really rubs me the wrong way. I’d most likely just listen to myself talk than listen to this all day long. It would start to be like a pebble in my shoe. It’s not so bad at first but after a while…..UGH!!!

  5. nikki says:

    Wow AM radio sounds annoying…I’ll stick to FM! Don’t know what else to say and I better get this in before my computer goes haywire again!! Great post though Laura!!!!

  6. Tosha says:

    YOu don’t have to listen to AM Radio to see these ads. they come on tv all the time (and I don’t watch tv but i’ve heard these ads on there)..

    This one is the worst one for me “you don’t have to be a perfect parent…”

    WTF??????? It’s just very condescending and knocking parents out there down. Atleast to me it is and i’ve seen the ad wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too many times.. It is just another reason i hate the damn tv..

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