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February 5 2018

T-Mobile’s Super Bowl Ad Sounded Tone Deaf

by Patrice Lee Onwuka

This year’s Super Bowl ads did what they usually do, try to sell us stuff – like snack food and insurance. They avoided making political statements compared to past years. T-Mobile didn’t get the memo though.

Instead of selling mobile service and connectivity, T-Mobile seeded the misguided idea that from birth women are victims amid its larger equality message.

T-Mobile’s ad featured cuddly babies of all races cooing while actress Kerry Washington narrates and Nirvana’s “All Apologies” plays in the background like a lullaby. (You can watch the video here).

The script was simple:

"Welcome to the world little ones... you come with open minds and the instinct that we are equal. Some people may see your differences and be threatened by them, but you are unstoppable. You'll love who you want. You'll demand fair and equal pay. You will not allow where you come from to dictate where you're going. You will be heard not dismissed. You will be connected not alone."  

The ad ends with the message “Change starts here.”

T-Mobile explained their thinking with the ad in a blog post:

We’re a brand built on listening to our customers. Customers who are heard, not dismissed – diverse customers all across the country from every region, economic class, race, sex, creed, gender identity, sexual orientation. Our customers are America. And there’s a more important conversation they’re having right now. And that’s what this year’s Super Bowl ad is about.
 
That’s why this year, we decided to go small. Baby small.
 
We wanted to use our airtime to further that conversation by making this simple point: We all started in the same place. We are more alike than different. 

The overall message of equality is always relevant – regardless of the politics of the time.

However, this ad went a step beyond that. In pushing the wage-gap narrative, they are suggesting that from birth women can expect to be treated unequally to men including being paid less. That is the myth of the wage gap. It’s a favorite talking point of women on the left that has been debunked.

Left-leaning women and feminists groups say that women earn 82 percent of what men earn – based on findings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS takes the median wages and salaries of men and women in full-time jobs. However, even the BLS acknowledges that when considering other factors such as seniority, education, and industry those differences in earnings disappear. Other analysis finds that the difference in pay virtually disappears when considering these factors.

Men also work more hours each week than women and women tend to take time out of the workforce to raise families or pursue jobs and industries with greater flexibility.

Reminding us that we are all equal from birth and are not limited by where we come from are both powerful messages. Sadly, those messages were diluted by the wage-gap rhetoric.

Women are not victims of discrimination from birth in the U.S. To suggest that is not only disingenuous, but it diminishes the heinous treatment of baby girls (including female infanticide) that still occurs today in other countries.

Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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