I was in the car tonight with the radio on as background noise. I heard a baby-like voice talking, so I turned the radio up in time to hear a commercial that said something like this:
"I cry because I can't talk. But if I could talk, I would tell you that at the daycare where you drop me off everyday, they put me in my seat and leave me alone all day. I would tell you that I'm not learning anything."
It was an ad for the United Way of Central Indiana's Child Care Answers service. And it made me angry.
Here's the TV version of the ad:
The radio version was more offensive, I think. There was no cute baby to distract me from really hearing the words.
The service is a good one (at least the idea is -- I've not actually used the service myself). It can help parents make informed decisions when choosing a child care provider for their precious charges. That's a good thing.
What is not a good thing is the United Way's decision to stick the knife in the collective gut of every working mom, to play on a parent's fears and guilt, instead of appealing to their desire to make the best choices for their children.
The United Way could have taken this path to getting the message out:
"We know that you want the best for your child. Our Child Care Answers service can help you determine what that is when it comes to choosing a child care provider."
If they wanted to use the voice of child, they could have had the same child in a vibrant care setting saying "Thanks Mom for using Child Care Answers."
The ad goes on to say that even if you are using vouchers to pay for child care, your kid deserves quality. What that says to me is that United Way knows their target audience includes economically-challenged families, likely single mothers, for whom the question to work or not work isn't about being able to afford a summer vacation or a new minivan, but who work to keep the lights on and food in the refrigerator. In my book, that makes sticking in the knife and turning up the fear and the guilt even worse.
I've been a supporter of the United Way every year for the past 7 (since I went back to work and began having my contributions deducted automatically from every paycheck). I believe the work they do in my community is important. But their misguided efforts in this ad campaign will make me think a little harder about how they go about doing their business and how much I want to support that.