I am practically immune to advertising. From Tony the Tiger cereal boxes to McDonald’s Happy Meals to J Crew pop-ups and Zappos sponsored facebook posts, I am a child of the advertising generation, born in the Mad Men era of the sixties. I also worked in advertising for close to a decade, so when an ad stops me in my tracks, it’s either for a good reason (thank you very much, VW and Little Darth) or a very, very bad reason: True & Company’s MILF campaign. If you haven’t come across it yet, welcome to this year’s installment of “You’re kidding me, right?”
Because I read about True & Company and love following fascinating retail companies, I liked them on facebook and took their online quiz, which, of course, put me on their email list. And here’s the stink bomb that arrived in my mailbox last week:
“Hey MILFs: What’s in your lingerie drawer?”
Excuse me? A modern, forward-thinking lingerie company did not just ask me that.
The email went on to say, “Are you a MILF? Trade in your to-do list for the natural lift you and your girls deserve.”
Great. My boys and their friends will be thrilled.
It turns out MILF is True & Company’s new, pervasive advertising campaign. But here’s the kicker: it’s not really a MILF they’re promoting, because (snort, snort) it’s “Mothers I’d Like To FIT.” Get it? Fit not Fuck. Hysterically clever, don’t you think? Like getting Betty White to say the word lesbian 20 times in a 30-second skit or watching Jackass…ever.
Cleverness is hard. Cleverness takes brilliance. Cleverness is not buying into a MILF campaign that’s not really a MILF campaign even though it seems like it is.
I’m not saying there shouldn’t be ads about moms wanting to feel pretty in their bras. Sure. Why not? Like Leslie Nielsen wearing pink, fuzzy slippers in a Coors commercial, “Sometimes I want to feel pretty.” Advertising doesn’t have to move the feminist agenda forward. I worked in advertising when this famous ad with Cindy Crawford was created, and for the time and the moment, it worked. It really worked. But advertising shouldn’t push us back, either.
Unfortunately, when I wrote to True & Company asking them not to call me a MILF, they responded with a pat apology and then listed off the accolades the campaign had received from the advertising community.
Um, dude, your customer is the only ad community that matters. Mind if I call you dude?
Besides, there’s only one MILF.