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Social Media Reacts to Vodafone Egypt Mother’s Day Advertisement

March 21, 2023
A scene from Vodafone Egypt’s Mother’s Day campaign

Egyptian social media erupted into controversy when telecommunications company Vodafone released its special Mother’s Day advertisement on 13 March.

The advertisement presents a series of comedic interactions between Egyptian mothers and their children, with the joke being that each mother clearly has a “favorite child,” despite strong claims to the opposite. 

The skit closes on a humorous contention that “it doesn’t matter if there is a favorite [child], what matters is that mom is everyone’s favorite,” with the voiceover then inviting viewers to buy discounted mother’s day gifts with Vodafone cash. 

Following its release, the advertisement quickly became the object of sharp criticism and backlash from viewers, leading the telecoms giant to pull it from its platforms. 

On Twitter, some users found the advertisement to be harmlessly relatable, and even responded to the video tagging their family members as a joke. 

Translation: I shared the new Vodafone Mother’s Day ad. The first person to ‘love’ the post was my mother, and I know the ‘love’ is for [my brother] Ahmed, not for me. 

Translation: The Vodafone Mother’s Day ad about the favorite child, literally you and mom

Translation: I’m going to be controversial and say that I liked the Vodafone ad and found it funny.

The wide majority of respondents, however, were disturbed by Vodafone’s comedic jab at Egyptian mothers, describing it as “sick,” “ridiculous,” and “a total failure;” or joking that its creators must be emotionally unwell. 

Translation: If you want to know what it means for a whole marketing team to need therapy, watch the Vodafone Mother’s Day ad

Translation: Vodafone’s new Mother’s Day ad is sick and a failure and might be the worst ad of theirs I’ve ever seen. 

Translation: I can’t believe a company like Vodafone would create such a ridiculous advertisement on Mother’s Day. 

Translation: The Vodafone ad is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. Are they trying to say we’re supposed to buy gifts for moms who play favorites with their children?

Some criticisms, like the below, were aimed at Vodafone’s choice to portray the flawed behavior of some mothers as a universal truth, rather than highlight and celebrate the many beautiful facets of motherhood. 

Translation: Vodafone’s ad presents a very negative example of mothers who play favorites and treat their children differently, and they show this as something normal, but that’s completely wrong. Could they not find anything worth celebrating about motherhood other than this abnormal behavior?!

Many other critics, meanwhile, conceded that favoritism is a widespread issue in Egyptian households, but found the advertisement to be making light of its harsh psychological consequences for children. 

Translation: Vodafone made a huge mistake with this year’s mother’s day ad. I have never seen anything this bad. It makes light of an existing issue and shows it as a reality we need to accept, as if favoritism didn’t harm children. It shows the problem without presenting any solution, and does so in a comedic light. 

Translation: how can a mother compare between her children and have a favorite? The problem is that this happens in most Egyptian families and causes the children psychological problems and mental illness. 

Translation: Shame on you, Vodafone Egypt! Vodafone’s mother’s day ad is stupid, rude, and a complete failure. It’s shocking that the media would promote bad parenting in this way. 

Some users like the below further felt that Vodafone chose to address this problem in the wrong context, noting that a Mother’s Day campaign was not the right space to raise awareness about parental neglect and favoritism. 

Translation: The Vodafone ad is criticizing a serious problem in most, if not all, Egyptian households… but tackling this in an advertisement for Mother’s Day is totally inappropriate. Do you want people to love their moms, celebrate them, and buy them gifts, or do you want to trigger people’s traumas???

Several reaction videos on YouTube similarly featured content creators expressing dismay at the fact that Vodafone had chosen to tackle this issue on Mother’s Day, with one creator noting that “Mother’s Day should be a time to highlight good and gentle parenting, not favoritism […] viewers have every right to be angry.” 

On Facebook, one content creator offered an alternative perspective on the controversy. 

While noting that the video’s message was misguided, she hypothesized that Vodafone’s marketing misstep had pointed to a deeper social problem – one which she was happy to finally see addressed on a large scale. 

Translation: people’s reaction to the Vodafone ad is very interesting. For a lot of people, this ad seems to have pushed their buttons. Yes, there are parents who favor one child over another, and yes it becomes obvious in small details like the kind of jam [they buy] and when the family has lunch, and how excited they get at [their children’s] achievements. And yes, children notice this and it hurts them. The message at the end is a little silly, though. It’s saying that ultimately, she’s [your] mom. You’ll buy her a mother’s day gift regardless of her behavior. But generally, I’m happy this conversation was started, even in this controversial way. 

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