Break Out the Tissues When Watching P&G's Mother's Day Tribute

I just did some calculations. If I were to thank my mom for everything she's done for me - all the cooking and cleaning, all the nurturing and encouraging, all the alibi-providing and bond-posting - it would take 42 days, at the rate of 15 seconds per incident-specific allocation of gratitude. Were I to throw in some apologies for individual instances of inappropriate conduct, it would add another three months to the appreciation/atonement binge. I was a pain in the ass of a kid - think Burning Man reenactments in the playroom and unlicensed goldfish autopsies on the kitchen counter.

Rather than spend the summer ping-ponging between thanks and apologies, I'll just zip over this link to Procter & Gamble's genuine, touching video tribute to momsy, with a note along the lines of "this, times 41 thousand. And again, sorry about that misunderstanding with the NSA." In the run-up to Mother's Day, I imagine I won't be the only wayward son who does so.

The genius of the clip, "Best Job/P&G London 2012 Olympic Games Film," lies in its simplicity. Over the course of two minutes, it sketches the relationships between a handful of mothers and their Olympic-bound kids, paying equal attention to the sacrifices (early wake-ups, on-demand transportation, etc.) and the triumphs (whipping less-dotingly-parented kids in the pool and on the mat). We see mom prodding Junior/Juniorita out of bed in the dark pre-dawn hush, washing his/her gear and consoling him/her after setbacks. The kicker arrives at the 105-second mark: "The hardest job in the world is the best job in the world." Then, you weep openly.

Color me stunned that, of all the consumer-goods leviathans out there, it's Procter & Gamble that has managed to provoke such an immediate, powerful response. To state the obvious, the company's products have long been a mainstay in kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms around the globe. Despite their omnipresence, however, neither P&G nor any of its individual brands have forged much of an emotional bond. To wit: I like the way Tide de-soils my socks, but my feelings about it stop right there. I wouldn't invite it to poker night, say, or name a child after it, however euphoniously "Tide Springsteen Dobrow" may roll off the tongue.

That's why "Best Job" is so effective, independent of its ties to P&G's Olympic sponsorships. It affirms the company's place in our lives without crisply articulating each of its 32 gazillion brand names (only Pampers, Duracell, Tide and Gillette are given the briefest of shout-outs) or specifically depicting the use of its products. Viewers just inherently assume that any/all messes are mopped with a clump of Bounty towels and that cramped quarters are rendered nasally palatable with Febreze. The sacrifices and everyday heroism of the featured moms are underplayed, which serves to bolster anything that eases their responsibilities (read: P&G products) by association.

I can't find enough good things to say about "Best Job," so I'll stop now before I embarrass myself. In conclusion: Thanks, mom. And thanks, faceless cog in the P&G marketing machine who put this thing together. I'm gonna go hug something now.

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