I Don’t Know How to Feel About This Campbell’s Commercial

published Dec 9, 2015
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(Image credit: Youtube)

Campbell’s new “Real Real Life” ad campaign got people talking with its commercial featuring two gay dads feeding soup to their son, but to me, there is nothing complicated about that particular spot. It just makes me feel good.

No, there is a Campbell’s commercial that brings up feelings that are much more complex and uncomfortable. It’s called “Phones” — have you seen it?

In it, a couple sits and eats dinner together at a little kitchen table, staring intently at their separate smartphones. “Nothing like a good, quick meal to bring two people together,” says the voiceover, promoting Campbell’s Skillet Sauces. As the commercial ends, the woman rubs her foot against her partner’s foot under the table, their faces reflecting the glow of their phones. This is their only interaction.

My first reaction to this commercial was disgust. There is something deeply upsetting, even repulsive, about seeing two people who love each other sitting together and interacting with their devices instead of each other. Yet it happens every day in my own household: My husband and I in the same room, sitting a few feet from each other, looking at our phones or computers instead of each other.

(Image credit: goodluz)

Seeing the mirror turned on myself was disturbing — and then a bit thrilling. Maybe you have managed to totally ban technology from your dinner table and your shared time with loved ones, in which case, you have my deepest admiration. But for those of us floating in a sea of ambivalence about sharing family time with our phones, social media, and the Internet, life is full of guilt and uncertainty. Our culture says it’s all or nothing, especially when it comes to family dinner. Either you are all present, interacting and far away from your phone, or you might as well be alone. Seeing an on-screen representation of that vast in-between space — where my husband and I share a giggle over a