'Missed the mark': Parents slam Medibank commercial for 'magnifying mum guilt'

A Medibank advertisement is being criticised for “mum-shaming” over the wording in the commercial in which a child thanks her mother for “walking out” and “coming home late”.

The ad, which has aired on free-to-air TV, shows a mum in exercise clothing leaving the house while her daughter provides a voiceover.

“Thanks mum, thanks for walking out,” the girl says.

“For coming home late for like, the second time this week.”

Throughout the ad, the father is seen alone with the kids while the mum comes and goes.

A woman in workout clothing in a Medibank commercial. She's returning to her family after exercising. The ad's been criticised for shaming mums.
Mum returns from her workout. Source: YouTube/ Medibank

“That’s it, focus on yourself,” the little girl continues. “Just look at what you’ve done to us.”

The 30-second ad finishes with the mother and daughter lying together on a trampoline, with Medibank’s voiceover encouraging people to care for themselves as “it impacts everyone around you” in a positive manner.

‘Your commercial missed the mark’

However, people have criticised the commercial for “missing the mark” and shaming mums who take time for themselves outside of the home.

“This commercial is disgraceful,” one woman wrote on Facebook.

“It is well known that mums all over the country carry guilt about trying to juggle a family, a spouse, a career, a home, a social life, a fitness routine etc.

A father and daughter sit on the couch watching TV in a Medibank ad. Mum's just left to exercise. The ad's been criticised for shaming mums for leaving the house.
Dad and daughter watch TV as mum leaves to go to exercise. Source: YouTube/ Medibank

“Your commercial has missed the mark with its sombre music and depressing voice over. You're not inspiring me to take care of myself, you just magnified my guilt for wanting to.”

Medibank trying to ‘challenge stigma’

In a response to the woman’s comment, Medibank wrote it had “no intention” of making anyone feel guilty.

“We want to support all mums and dads to look after themselves,” the insurance giant said.

“We know that self-care can sometimes feel selfish and we're trying to challenge that stigma by showing the amazing knock-on effect that caring for yourself has on those around you.”

On Twitter, one woman tweeted she was “horrified” by the commercial which “mum-shames” women.

“Your ad says mothers can only be mothers and domestic caretakers,” she tweeted.

“Mothers are people.”

One man added the commercial guilts mothers “for having a life”.

In a statement to Yahoo News Australia, Medibank chief customer officer David Koczar said the ad “aims to challenge the notion that it’s selfish to take time out to look after yourself”.

“We’re sorry if people have taken our new ad to mean something other than what is intended,” Mr Koczar said.

“We want to inspire all Australians to make positive, healthy changes not only for themselves, but for those closest to them, and our Live Better campaign aims to challenge the notion that it’s selfish to take time out to look after yourself.”

He added mums “often feel guilty” for taking time away from family to do something for themselves and the ad “is not designed” to shame them.

“Rather it aims to highlight the benefits that come from a parent taking time for themselves to exercise and the positive impact that has on the rest of the family,” he said.

“The campaign tag line, ‘When you live better, we’re all better for it’ speaks to the positive impact that caring for yourself has on everyone around you.”

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