Why the new Chobani ad seriously matters to me
Last week, Chobani received some backlash for its newest ad, which features a woman eating yogurt in bed before playfully stealing the covers from her wife. The commercial is a part of the yogurt brand’s “Love Your Life” campaign, which, according to a press release, aims to show “authentic, real-life moments [from] modern American stories.”
It’s hard to tell you what it felt like to see that Chobani commercial for the first time. It was both horrifying and relieving: Horrifying, in the way that you just know everyone in your life was going to text you to watch the commercial, because you’re the only lesbian in their life. Horrifying, in the way that you knew the second you opened Twitter you were going to see offended parents complaining about how they now have to explain sexuality to their 12-year-olds (spoiler alert: 12-year-olds know what gay people are).
But it was also a relief — because a brand just took a big leap of faith. They told the world that you are just like everyone else. A relief, in the way that now people know that, yes, you do share a bed with your partner every night, and yes, sometimes you are just so in love that you eat your yogurt in bed while pretending to try and not wake your partner up. A relief, because as more ads present couples like us, more people understand we are just like everyone else.
There are only so many reasons to hate a Greek yogurt commercial (and you’d think the number one reason would be not liking Greek yogurt). But unfortunately, the ad has hit a sour note — and not the pleasant, fermented kind — for a very different reason.
“What does selling yogurt have to do with gay sex?,” right-wing group One Million Moms wrote in a lengthy blog post on Friday. “Nothing at all, but Chobani wants to make the association. . . This ad would be inappropriate for television even if it were a heterosexual couple naked in bed together.”
Of course, One Million Moms tends to represent a very extreme opinion, but this is the gist of a lot of the negative reactions I’ve seen so far: It’s not that it’s a lesbian couple — the problem is with how explicitly sexual the ad is in general.
But is that true? Do people really not have a problem with being invited to look at an intimate, lesbian couple as opposed to a heterosexual couple? Shockingly (or not), this isn’t the first time Greek yogurt has been advertised in a “sexual” manner.
Yet the Dannon commercial didn’t receive any of the same backlash. In fact, I’d argue that the above ad’s appeal comes from a suggestive kind of sexual humor, while Chobani’s ad is centered around an innocently playful and much more “wholesome” message.
So what if the couples were reversed? It’s likely that our reactions would reverse, as well — and this is where things become problematic.
It’s okay to feel uncomfortable with or unsure about things we’re not used to seeing. It’s okay to feel shocked and surprised when we see someone do something different. However, it then becomes more important than ever to ask ourselves why we feel that way. To ask, does this feel uncomfortable because there is an implication of sex in a commercial, or is it because there is an implication of sex with a couple I am not used to seeing on television every day.
Ultimately, the Dannon commercial was funny. It showed familiar faces, doing familiar things, in a familiar way. The Chobani commercial? It shows two married women waking up in bed together, and that’s probably not so familiar to a lot of people.
And guess what? Even I was shocked when I first saw the commercial — and I’m gay. I have never seen an LGBTQ+ couple depicted in an ad in any way other than showing them as a happy little family. While it gives me the warm fuzzies to see hip gay dads in a Tylenol commercial about family, that’s not enough. It’s not enough for people to just tolerate us as a different type of family. Are queer people only okay if they have a cute baby attached to them?
This Chobani ad — this is different. This shows that queer couples are normal couples, in every way. Even in the your significant other stole your sheets off you while you were sleeping kind of way. I never even thought it was possible for an LGBTQ+ couple to be represented sexually in mainstream media. So I get why some people may be surprised, because I was caught off guard, as well.
Ultimately, if the commercial made you feel uncomfortable, it’s important to think about why that is, just like I had to. Is it because it’s just something you’re not used to seeing? Is it because you think feet are gross? If the answer you come up with is, “because I’ve never seen two married women naked in bed together,” that’s okay! But it’s important to think about it, and to remember it, and to work on it. Hopefully, the next time you see a genderqueer couple in the background of a car insurance commercial, you smile and move along with your day, realizing everyone’s entitled to pay too much for their car insurance.
“We’re proud that our products are enjoyed by all and we celebrate that diversity whenever — and however — we can,” a spokesperson for Chobani told The Huffington Post.
We need the world to not just tolerate us, but to support us and be on our side, and eventually not blink an eye when they see us doing all of the normal, mundane things everyone does on a daily basis. Grocery shopping? Yup, we do that. Walking the dog? Definitely, got that one covered. And yes, like the rest of the world — sometimes, we even eat yogurt.
(Image via video.)