Can Maggi really cook the difference?
This headline is a play on the slogan for Maggi’s television commercial. I’m sure you must have caught a bit of the hysteria flying around. All of a sudden, different groups of people start to fight, especially on social media sites. What was the fuss about this time? I say, this time, because every other day, there’s something new to quarrel or argue about. So, was the ‘fight’ justified this time round? Listen to the story of the commercial and you be the judge.
The commercial opens to show a young-ish woman cooking and tasting. We see her in different scenarios – at work as ‘boss lady’, as a ‘slayer’, and a ‘foodie’. After work, she goes to the market first before going home to prepare food for her family because she says she’s “the magnet that brings my family together.” By the end of the commercial when she asks rather rhetorically, “Need I say more”, we get the idea that she’s a modern day superwoman.
Women, especially professional women, knocked this advert for perpetuating the unsustainable stereotype that a woman has to do it all. Some men jumped on this fight with their own arguments. What about the cement adverts which featured only men, they asked. I don’t understand why men have to react whenever women have a grouse.
As for me, my position keeps expanding. The first time I read about this ad, I was very disappointed and I thought Maggi should have done better. But by the second day, I was defending a woman’s right to be the “magnet that brings (her) family together,” if that’s what she chooses to do. After all, I used to be a stay-at-home wife and mother. This column came out of that, 20 years ago. But I digress. What’s my position? Firstly, I don’t wish to join any side. I don’t have to pull my teeth to prove anything. Some months ago, I was complained about the bad treatment of women almost every week on this page. I remember the commercial done for VAIDS, by the ministry of finance.
Suffice it to say that I think we should save our energies for worthwhile causes. Ever since I heard about the continued existence of money-wives in Cross River State, where girls are basically sold off to the creditor, to pay off loans as small as N10,000, I have had to readjust my priorities. Plus, none of those claiming to be feminist champions has said anything about money-wives. Not that this absolves Maggi of anything. Brands can and should be ‘aspirational’. They don’t have to reproduce reality but they can produce the future. Maggi wants women to cook the difference. Can it take its own advice?
Meanwhile, in a bid to out-banter one another, there are other things we did not notice in this Maggi commercial – the nationality of the model for instance – it is not clear. The voice over (supposedly Nigerian, belongs to the female model. This female voice is an exaggerated Nigerian accent. So, in spite of honourable minister Lai Mohammed’ interview, companies/people are still shooting commercials, etc outside Nigeria? And what do they mean she is ‘a caregiver’? A caregiver has been described as “someone who looks after a sick, frail or disabled relative…”