Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: Insurance and financial services company John Hancock is considering pulling a controversial television commercial scheduled to air during the Olympics thanks to right wing protests challenging its lesbian motherhood theme.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2000]
Origins: The commercial as described in the appeal did run during National Gymnastics Championship in July 2000 and will run again throughout the 2000 Summer Olympics. John Hancock has no plans to drop it, however, hence the show of support called for is
This e-mailed appeal to show support for an endangered non-traditional commercial began circulating on the Internet in August 2000. While the core details as supplied in the missive are true (that such a commercial aired during the National Gymnastics Championship and will be shown again during the Olympics), the call to arms is an overreaction. John Hancock has no plans to kill the ad, nor has it so far encountered organized right wing protests against its theme. (Individuals, however, have made their voices heard by expressing their views, both pro and con, directly to the company. The reaction to the commercial thus far has been mixed.)
The controversial commercial is one of a set of four designed to stress the importance of financial planning by showcasing true-to-life situations:
Only one spot provokes reaction, as (contrary to what is claimed in the
A minor change refocusing the ad upon its central figure has been made to the dialogue of "Immigration," so those who viewed it in its initial run during the gymnastics trials may note a difference in it when they see it again during the Olympics. Initial consumer reaction showed viewers concentrating on the relationship between the adults instead of upon the child, necessitating the alteration.
According to a September 2000 John Hancock press release:
When we previewed and tested this spot, we found people were misinterpreting what we were saying. People focused a great deal of their attention on what was going on between the adults. It was important to us to focus them, instead, on the real message of the spot, which is however a child comes into a family, that child is entitled to financial protection, and John Hancock can help. The changes we made to the ad are intended to make clear that the spot is about the child, not the adults, and what John Hancock can do to help provide for the child’s future.Non-traditional families are still seen as enough of a novelty that this commercial, no matter how effective the refocusing has been, will remain controversial. Some will not agree with the underlying message that a same-sex couple should have the right to raise a child, and some will be ecstatic that a non-traditional pairing has been featured in a mainstream advertising campaign. Many will just blink twice, then get back to watching the pole vaulting.
Last updated: 30 November 2007
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