Can Maggi re­ally cook the dif­fer­ence?

The Punch - - AIRTIMEPLUS -

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…”

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