Monday, February 2, 2009

Good and bad messages for Valentine's Day

There's a commercial for Hallmark Valentine's Day cards on TV right now that is truly offensive. I tried to find it online somewhere, but didn't succeed, so here it is:

We see a group of elementary school girls sitting in the cafeteria together. One girl opens her lunch and pulls out an apple with handmade hearts around it. Someone says something, but I'm sorry, but I forget what it is. Then, a second girl pulls out a sandwich, which has been cut into the shape of a heart. Honestly, I wasn't paying that much attention, and the thought that I had was "Oh, that's really sweet. And cute." Again, there's some remark made, but still, since I didn't know what was coming next, and I tune out when the commercials come on, I can't tell you exactly what was said. The third and last girl opens her lunch and finds a card in an envelope. Oh, it's a Hannah Montana card! She opens it and it even plays a tune! The other girls look miserable. They only got handmade things, things that weren't paid for. They only got things that their mothers actually had to put some thought and time into.

This ad sends two truly awful messages. The first is obvious: presents that are bought are superior to hand-made. But the second message is even worse: it's okay to make other kids unhappy and to tease them.

I thought we were done with kind of thing. Schools work very hard these days to stop bullying and teasing, and there's at least some effort put into stopping the clique mentality that comes along with some kids having the "right stuff" while others don't.

So, it comes as a big surprise to me to see this Hallmark ad. Hallmark, a company that's supposed to bring cheer into our lives with lovely messages, is promoting a way of behaving and thinking that I naively thought might become a thing of the past. All I can say is, "Hallmark, shame on you!"

If you're watching TV, keep your eyes open for this ad. I'd be curious to see if any of you find it as offensive as I do.

Image note: From the Martha Stewart website: "This Valentine's Day, encourage kids to show sweet sentiments with tokens of affection that go beyond the store-bought card. . .In no time, they'll have an array of adorable valentines whose messages come straight from the heart." Instructions for making flower and heart lollipops and other Valentine's goodies here.


jmcleod76 said...

Man ... fuck Hallmark!

BitterGrace said...

That does sound creepy and obnoxious. But does any kid actually want her mother to give her a Hallmark card? I thought kids were supposed to give Mom Valentine's Day gifts.

TMC said...

well said. I've seen the commercial and agree that it's a tad off the mark.

Amy said...

Totally! I Googled this commercial because I wanted to write a blog about how obnoxious it is, and then I found your blog!

I think what irks me most is the message to parents-- yes, kids might like mass-produced cross-promotional Disney character crap more than handmade gifts, but they'd also eat candy for dinner if you let them... some day they'll appreciate the thoughtfulness, when they've hopefully grown into less-materialistic people, thanks to not having lazy parents.

Anonymous said...

I also googled this commercial because I couldn't believe that Hallmark was behind such an offensive ad. In today's economy, is it really appropriate for a company to belittle hand-made gifts in favor of commercially made products? It's disgusting!!

Rick and Martha said...

I am so glad to see that this ad bothers others. I sent the following email to Hallmark and then followed it by sending a copy to local TV stations asking them to pull the ad or request Hallmark change the ad:
I have seen your Valentine television advertisement several times and become more and more troubled by it with each viewing. I am among the few who are less affected by the day to day problems presented by our country's troubled economy. I know I personally am blessed so for others, today, I am writing to you. I own a business and I see my clients who are suffering, suffering terribly. My auto repairman is calling customers to ask if there is any work he can do for them, my neighbor who is an engineer just lost his job yesterday, movie theaters and restaurants are virtually empty, some of my clients have taken pay cuts just to retain their jobs, most my clients who own business have 20% to 50% declines in business volume. We have all suffered severe losses in our investments. I find the Hannah Montana Valentine card ad terribly inappropriate for this economy. I have no problem with you selling the card but you are degrading the loving, caring parent who put an apple with heart stickers in her daughter's lunch and the parent who shaped her daughter's sandwich in the form of a heart and instead implying that only if a family buys a Hannah Montana Valentine card will the recipient be "COOL". You are belittling the poor families who can't afford your $5 card. You are saying, spend this $5 on our card instead of on food for your family so your child will feel "COOL". These families, who you are insulting are doing their very best to maintain day-to-day existence and you have the audacity to imply that they are not as good as your family who has the money to buy your Hannah Montana card. You should be ashamed! Advertise, fine, spend your advertising dollars promoting the Hannah Montana card but DON'T do it at the expense of poor families who can do no better than an apple or sandwich. Keep in mind that a lot of thought, love and creativity goes into the apple and sandwich idea! Does your card offer that? Your tactics have offended me. I am one who can afford and have shopped your stores often but I will question my return to your stores. This is a time we must ALL pull together, support each other emotionally and reach out to those who are struggling due to no cause by them. Please pull this ad and substitute it instead with one that does not ATTACK the unfortunate circumstances people may be facing.

Julie H. Rose said...

Rick and Martha - good for you that you send Hallmark an e-mail. I was going to, but I rather assumed that someone at Hallmark probably got google alerts about their products. Maybe I'll also send an e-mail.

I'm not happy about the commercial, but I'm glad to see comments here from folks I don't know who were also bothered by this ad.

As my partner works in the school system, I am more concerned about the ad's messages to children. In ANY economy, good or bad, the ad's message, to kids and parents alike, is a bad one.

And I'm glad some people are airing their grievances about it.

Anonymous said...

I find the the commercial about the Hallmark Hannah Montana Valentine completely obnoxious and snooty. What kind of message does it send to young people? I would much rather my Mom do something of her own originality and creativity to share with me than to take the commercially convenient way out by purchasing a card that feeds the greed of 2 big corporate giants both with the initials "HM" that could care less about me or my mother. It's shameful and condescending.
Or as in the words of a very famous song "Whats Love Got To Do With It?"

Anonymous said...

Wow, you guys sure are sensitive.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post--I found it while looking up Hallmark's website to email a complaint about it. To the Anonymous commenter who thinks we're too don't have a school-age daughter, do you?

Pacific Northwest

Anonymous said...

I agree. This commercial is ridiculous and shouldn't be on the air.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know where I could find this video on the web?