08 November 2012 by

Just How Sexist Is The New Asda Christmas Advert?

It’s early November and all through the house ring the soul-destroying onslaught of Christmas themed adverts. And for every Moonpig.com and Lego and premature DFS January sale, there’s always one stand-out advert which everyone talks about. Last year it was John Lewis starring quite possibly the finest child actor of his generation. This year, it’s Asda which has produced a much-dissected advert which some people are calling sexist.

If you haven’t seen it, do so above. If you can’t, here’s a potted synopsis: a family are preparing for Christmas. They’re buying the tree, transporting the tree. It’s all very egalitarian and warming. Then slowly slowly, the male members of the household disappear from the screen until it’s just the mother doing the wrapping, shopping, decorating, hovering, tidying. Finally, chipper but exhausted she emerges from the kitchen to a roomful of men who ask her what’s for tea. ‘Asda behind every great christmas’, comes the voiceover. Oh! The hilarity. Tea? They’ve just eaten lunch! Poor. Old. Mother.

So far, the public have raised 20 odd complaints. People think the depiction of ‘mother’, en pinafore, essentially ‘running’ Christmas is sexist. That men should be involved, and the assumption of zero male involvement is archaic. 

On many levels they are right – how modern it would have been to show a man cooking, or a grandfather washing up. But then does that smack of tokenism? For as much as I believe there are men who cook Christmas dinner, they are probably in the minority. I hope I'm wrong. But I don't think I am. What’s more, one thing that’s being ignored is just how badly the men come off here. In fact, in some ways, the more optimistic could view it as a celebration of female stoicism rather than degrading to women. Personally, I'm more worried about the fact that the children don’t pitch in at all either and that the only person who helps with the washing up is a female relation. But then again – like men, most don't. So is the reason everyone's so uncomfortable about this advert actually because it's so realistic. That it is the women who seem to do everything. Depressing thought. Especially as there are only 40 odd days and counting until the big day…  

NB. In a statement, the supermarket said: "To any mums and dads who have been upset by our Christmas TV ad – we’d like to offer our sincere apologies.

"It wasn’t our intention to offend anyone.

"Our ad depicts what many of the 16m mums who shop in Asda tell us they feel."

"It is intended to be light-hearted and fun and in the main that’s how it’s been received."

"We respect all hard-working parents and know just how tough it is managing a family – particularly at Christmas."

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Comments

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Gemma O'Reilly (Thu Nov 08 15:38:30 GMT 2012): I watched the advert and have to admit that I did feel uncomfortable. I don't know that it's necessarily sexist, but I think it hit a nerve. I agree with the columnist, that maybe it's because it reminds me of my mum, mother-in-law and what happens in my house that I felt cross. However, just because it happens doesn't mean that it's right. This ad seems to reinforce the stereotype and suggest that you're only a good mum/woman if you still live up to that superhuman housewife ideal. While, it may have been less realistic to portray men/kids helping out, it might have encouraged them and shown them that mum doesn't have to do everything. Or maybe, like my husband says, it's just an ad and I'm reading far too much into it. Gemma, London
Bartholomew Harvey (Thu Nov 08 18:05:12 GMT 2012): Some of my best memories of this time of year was my Dad's cooking. He'd often cook Christmas breakfast, dinner and lunch. Followed up with boxing day. The advert fuels so many fires in my heart because of its blatant double standards to sexism. If this had been a reversed gender I can't see people being so laissez faire. The reason the advert was so appealed by ASDA's marketing horde is because they used a "Mumdex". Even their marketing index doesn't acknowledge male input or even consider the impact it could of had. I've not shopped in ASDA for about a year now and no matter how much the pennies pinch my pockets I won't take a step in there for sometime until they admit they were wrong at the VERY least. This is the first time I have commented on anything of this ilk but its going be in my mind for many holiday's to come.
Anthony Bowen (Thu Nov 08 18:48:46 GMT 2012): I find the whole thing rather annoying considering that in our house I help with the decorations and the shopping, and I certainly don't sit about doing bugger all while the plates and empty packaging piles up around me. ASDA is full of it.
Debbie Hogg (Thu Nov 08 20:35:46 GMT 2012): I will be honest - I can totally agree with the advert, if it wasn't for women there would be no Christmas! Not all men, but probably a large percentage just don't give a crap about the hassle of Christmas - in my house I can totally relate as I organise, tidy, buy, write, wrap, give out/send out, put up and make Christmas what it is and the fact that ASDA have brought out this ad shows that its not just in my house that this happens! But its good to see below that there are a small percentage of good spirited Christmas guys out there - want to give my partner some tips! lol :)
Tabitha Panter (Fri Nov 09 08:49:12 GMT 2012): It's sad that even in 2012, advertising companies still resort to family structures and gender roles more fitting 60 years ago. I'm also finding it hard to comprehend how ASDA apparently are told by mums that they're running the show by themselves (So there were actual surveys? Questionnaires?) - presumably they feel deflated by this prospect. So what do ASDA do? Make an advert that reinforces this as acceptable, justifies it as the norm. I don't really get it. How great would it be for them to have made an advert that shows the whole family chipping in to prepare for christmas together, free of stereotypes? Then perhaps the families of these mums in real life would be encouraged to do the same.
Zoe Carlini (Fri Nov 09 09:21:26 GMT 2012): sexist..not in my opinion..to me it just shows how important and needed a mum is and how without them things just wouldn't be as special!
Carol Marshall (Sat Nov 10 13:21:55 GMT 2012): I agree. Uncle Dave Marshall has always cooked xmas lunch!
Dinah Kennington (Sat Nov 10 16:34:32 GMT 2012): Whilst Asda where getting the 'what women feel' outcomes what did the men they asked say. I bet they didn't even ask their opinions!
Sabrina Clark (Sun Nov 11 19:05:02 GMT 2012): No-one seams to notice that there are mums still like that in a way I hope it shows the men to appretiate the time they get with their chidlren and that they get to spend that time with them each year because they love adore or appretaite their wifes/significant other each day they are together - personally I will yet again be doing all the above but I have no man to make me feel unloved unkept and unappretiated anymore - remember that men you can be easily removed or replaced for this type of behaviour - make sure if it is as the ad shows you pamper that person to death the following day!
Adrian Karl Blofield (Sun Nov 11 22:17:31 GMT 2012): We share the load at christmas and every one I know does to. Sexist ad!!
Margaret Gooch Barker (Sun Nov 11 22:51:43 GMT 2012): That's exactly what happens in most households, so, no, it isn't sexist - just true!
Mark Smith (Mon Nov 12 09:08:42 GMT 2012): The slogan is 'Christmas doesn't happen by magic'. The last time I looked Christmas happened because of Christianity, no mention of it here though.
Tim Higgs (Mon Nov 12 13:49:12 GMT 2012): If anyone has time to complain over an advert like this, then they really have too much time on their hands. Suprised it's even made the news!
Laura Del Col Brown (Tue Nov 13 07:59:26 GMT 2012): So apparently, people without children don't have Christmas at all?
Alicia Hamber-Stott (Sat Dec 01 13:29:14 GMT 2012): Christmas can be very special with only a dad I think you over rate yourself
Chris Horner (Tue Dec 04 10:09:23 GMT 2012): Yes because those single parent fathers are useless and incapable of organising a good Christmas for their kids. Do you people ever think of anyone apart from mothers?
Chris Horner (Tue Dec 04 10:10:36 GMT 2012): Absolute rubbish. Most men chip in with Christmas organising, to say men "don't give a crap" is insulting to the many fathers who help produce a great Christmas. Plus the father will be working his arse off to pay for Christmas.
Sophie Elizabeth Watt (Thu Oct 17 13:32:33 BST 2013): my dad always makes the Christmas meal but that is it. he wants nothing to do with Christmas other than that. he even says he does not like Christmas whereas it is the best time of year for me