June 9, 2014

The Volkswagen Commercial That Depicts a Backwards Workplace

It’s only a 30-second commercial, but it rubs me entirely the wrong way.

Volkswagen_5I suspect the advertising agency for Volkswagen wasn’t thinking about the backwards way in which they depicted the workplace (or life) throughout the commercial, but the evidence is as clear as day to me.

I have a few observations:

  1. Dad is stuck at work, whereas Mom is gleefully sitting in at the auditorium, watching her son’s violin recital.
    • Does this suggest Mom doesn’t work? Or does she simply have a more lenient employer? Did she have to take a day off to watch?
  2. There is an empty seat to the left of Mom.
    • Does this imply Dad was supposed to attend but couldn’t? If he couldn’t, what were the reasons? “Emergency” meeting? Did he forget about the recital? Did his boss say “no” when he asked that morning?
  3. Dad excused himself from the meeting to listen to the recital via the Passat mobile phone sound system, but he didn’t attend in person.
    • Will there ever be another moment like the one where he missed his son’s recital? What type of employer is he working for that doesn’t permit him to excuse himself for a short period of time? How will it affect the son, over time?

Yes, there are rebuttals to each of my questions.

Mom is a teacher at the school. Dad is away on business, in another city. There are other men in the auditorium. He did ‘hear’ the performance, Dan.

That being stated, the commercial rubs me entirely the wrong way.

It’s Dad who’s at work.

It’s Mom who is watching the performance.

It’s Dad who can’t get away from the office.

It’s Mom who is holding up a phone so Dad can partake.

It’s Dad who works for an organization that clearly doesn’t demonstrate life-work flexibility.

It sends a message, a signal, a doctrine that is tiresome, over-played and rooted in history.

Our workplaces can do better.

Our lives can be lived better.

That father should have been at the recital.

Our workplaces need to become more humane.

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