Mad Men, Pan Am, The Play Boy Club…what's up with all these shows focusing on life in the 50's and 60's? That was a time when women had limited opportunity and sexism was rampant. So why do men AND women look nostalgicly at this era? ( is nostalgicly a word?)
A new study about moms from Women at NBCU might shed some light.
The headline reads, "MOMS ASPIRE TO BE MODERN DAY JUNE CLEAVERS,ACCORDING TO A NEW WOMEN AT NBCU STUDY WHICH PAINTS AN ALTERED PICTURE OF TODAY'S AMERICAN FAMILY"
Here's an excerpt from the study:
"Today’s moms are aspiring to be modern day June Cleavers, according to a just released Women at NBCU study. At the most unconventional time in motherhood, where only 4% of today’s families fall into the US Census definition of “traditional,” a remarkable 49% of moms say “Traditional” is the number one parenting style they aspire to be. Reflecting this bent towards values of a different era, an astounding 77% of the moms surveyed prefer to have children with good manners over good grades."
 US Census defines “traditional” families as working father and stay-at-home mother with kids under 18
Wow – at a time when so few families fit the traditional mold, women are craving traditional parenting styles. What's going on here? Again, here's the Women at NBCU study:
”Although moms are not saying they want to go back to the 1950s, they are clinging to certain values and traditions associated with that time period,” said MelissaLavigne-Delville, VP of Trends and Strategic Insights, Integrated Media at NBCUniversal. “There’s a backlash to the complexity of current conditions like the economy and fragmented families. Brands with strong “roots” have an opportunity to play up their heritage or consider resurrecting brand assets from this past. Ultimately,though, women will need products and services that are modern and can keep pace with their everyday realities – traditional cannot mean ‘old school.’”
Here are some other highlights from the report:
- 11% identified themselves as Soccer Moms
- 77% of moms want kids with good manners over good grades
- 1/4 of moms say housework is evenly shared – 2/3 of dads say it's evenly shared
- The fastest growing demo of moms is 40+
- 12% of moms feel they are accurately portrayed in advertising
Why do only 12% of moms feel accurately portrayed in advertising?
I think part of the answer lies in the earlier stat that only 4% of today’s families fall into the US Census definition of “traditional."
I also think it's easy to misinterperet what moms mean by "traditional."
Case in point, at the breakfast event where Women at NBCU shared the report, the lovely Sarah Jessica Parker was a featured guest. Watch her here. LOVE her.
What does Sarah Jessica Parker have in common with June Cleaver? Parker had a great answer when asked what she loved most about her husband (Mathew Broderick) that included "intellectual swordplay." Can you imagine June giving that answer? (Can you imagine Ward's face if she did?) As we've seen, today's mom looks very different from the mothers of the 50's.
And yet, moms say things like family game night, and eating together, and good manners are hugely important to them.
So what's a creative director to do? Moms don't feel accurately portrayed. They are not traditional. Yet moms are embracing certain traditional parenting techniques.
Here's my answer
Show non-traditional familes doing traditional activities. Let me give you an example. Here's a promotion from Netflix.
Keep the activity – a family enjoying watching a movie together. But show a more realistic family (other than husband wife and 2.4 kids, one male, one female). Show two or three moms with a variety of kids. Show different generations. Throw in some unruly animals stealing the popcorn. (The animals can have bad manners, but not the kids.)
What are your thoughts? Do women want to go back to the 50's and 60's? Or are they wishing for a simpler life with more time, support and togetherness? Would you go back to the 50's and 60's if you could?