Thursday, 18 October 2018

That Giffgaff advert - a few quick thoughts

I'm reluctant to weigh into the giffgaff debate. Mainly because I don't want to appear precious and over sensitive to how adoption is portrayed in the media and film. That's a slippery slope ending with me boycotting literally every Disney film due to the harmful mis portrayal of contemporary adoption/kinship care and step families. 

If we object to one then do we have to object to them all? Can we select what we're offended at? I'm not sure, of course Giffgaff don't get to choose how we receive their advert and I don't agree with many portrayals or references in media of adoption but I'll be honest I still enjoy Annie and most of the other stuff. So, what to think about Giffgaff? well being cynical I'd suggest that their marketing team are giddy that they're stirring up a mini storm that they can capitalise on, as they say there's no such thing as bad publicity. There was no chance that I'd be looking at their Twitter profile if it weren't for this.

So, what's the issue? 

Firstly, I think that there's a lot of adopters/adoptees/birth families feeling a little delicate due to it being #NationalAdoptionWeek so this message comes at a tricky moment when many of us are a little tetchy.

Secondly and more importantly, the advert unpicks some of our most basic fears as adopters that our children are not ours and we will be rejected by them, perhaps our children will leave us and return to their origins. The message of monsters as birth parents plays as an overt metaphor for our children's parents and dances around our fears and even the language that is sometimes used. So, that's all a bit close to the knuckle.

Finally, for adopters the advert plays into our fears for our children that they will find their identity caught up in the character, behaviour and circumstances of their biological families. To listen to a teenager's fears that she'll become like her birth mother mother is hard and we know this advert has the potential to stoke those fears. 

Of course I empathise with those upset but I watched it and as requested and if I overthinking it I can see other's worries and concerns but I'm not worried by it at all. This advert is a fantasy, a story and not a social commentary on contemporary adoption. I'm robust and from the outset I've taught my children that almost every book, film or programme that we read or see that features adoption is usually wrong and to take them as entertainment only. On that basis I've no offence.


  1. I'm not usually precious about adoption themes, and the concept that my daughter is "not really mine" or will return to birth family and reject me is not something that troubles me (perhaps not yet anyway!). The troubling thing about this advert is the underlying"forced adoption" theme which isn't something I have encountered in Disney. The concept that a child is snatched from a loving, but different, family who is perceived by society as "bad" and placed in a family that conforms to social norms against her best interests is what concerns me. Unfortunately, there is far too much in the media that filters down into public thinking that social services preys on good but vulnerable families to snatch children for upper/middle class parents to meet mythical quotas. This advert feeds strongly into this misconception.

    1. You're right. I do think though that the narratives that are woven into so much of what we read and watch and often reinforce negative stereotypes of all kind. This was overtly fantasy and halloween themed so easily side stepped, I struggle to get vexed with this one over any other. Thanks for commenting.