Look, love, just get back in the kitchen where you belong. What on earth are you doing, straying away from the cooker? Leash too long? Oh, mind you, with the leash off, you might as well do the vacuuming when you've finished preparing my big fry-up. I'll just flop back on the sofa and watch the match while you're doing it. And please keep the noise down, will you? I can't hear myself think with you frying away, let alone concentrate on the commentary.
Ah, modern life. Brilliant, innit? Everything is just as it should be.
Sarcastic? Yes, of course. Most people will realise that, and I'd wager pretty much 100% of the Creativepool generation. Before we reached the Noughties, we were all trying to be Nineties Men, sharing the housework, being great cooks while our significant other worked late at the office, putting the children to bed and generally competing with each other to be the best and most hands-on dad EVER. (Well, I wasn't doing the latter, being currently childless; but I dare say it's in my cultural genes to do so, judging by my peers.)
So why does Iceland insist on promoting the archaic view that only mums do the food shopping?
This is the company's self-penned overview (and let's ignore the missing punctuation for once): "Iceland are the frozen food experts delivering meal solutions for busy, value conscious mums."
This is a patronising viewpoint on many levels. Let's assume for a second that a classless society doesn't exist (ahem). Let's leave aside the upper class, because A) they are unlikely to do their own shopping; B) if they do, they would probably pick up their sausages at the local organic charcuterie and have their duck terrines flown in from France; and C) they definitely wouldn't be seen dead in Iceland. Sorry, Iceland, but it's true. For a start, your colour scheme would clash with their Ferraris.
As for what one might call middle-class families, they would probably have a fairly even split of chores between husband and wife, who probably both work. Woe betide the man who thinks his wife should stay at home and bring up the children instead of pursuing her career. After all, she's probably been to university and is very ambitious (which modern men are "fine with", by the way). If SHE thinks she should stay at home and bring up the children, great, we're free to go ahead and support that. But to volunteer that as a male viewpoint is likely to get you shot down over your Shiraz at any soiree.
So that leaves us with... (and remember, this is assuming that there are classes and Britain isn't a classless society) ..the working classes. You know, the alleged egg-and-chips-on-Thursday strata of society who otherwise live solely on frozen curries (only now they're more into their smoked salmon on blinis for New Year's Eve). Anyway, given what I suggest may be true of the alleged upper and middle classes, this only leaves the so-called working classes as the target audience. And let's remember that Stacey Solomon from Dagenham is now the face of Iceland, having taken over from Kerry Katona. Nowt wrong with single mum Stacey, of course; she is refreshingly down to earth, she adores her son (who features in some of the TV ads - see below), and she's proud of who she is and where she comes from blah blah blah. One of the nation's new sweethearts, assuming you're within the X Factor demographic.
But my point is that it is patronising to what Iceland perceive to be their target audience. "Because mums are heroes" is the latest strap line. Well, yes, they are...but so are dads, so why make a point of specifying? As an aside, why isn't it "Because mums are heroines?" Just wondering if the potential mix-up with heroin would be too much to handle, given that Kerry Katona was apparently dropped as the face of Iceland for snorting drugs. Anyway, the "heroes" strap line suggests in a rather head-patty way that, in the current economic climate, to trot out a well-worn phrase "busy mums" are doing SOOO well to manage the family accounts and make ends meet. Well done, you!
There's even a section on their website called "For Busy Mums". By the way, when you click on it, you get a nice snap of Stacey with a gushy quote (sadly missing her warbly trademark "Oh, my Gooooood!") which says rather vaguely, "I love Iceland, I shop there all the time!!!"
Obviously I have nothing against frozen foods (apart from the additives) or Iceland per se. And it is also a massively successful company. In the Sunday Times Best Companies Awards, it was rated Best Big Company To Work For in the UK, as well as Most Improved Big Company. Plus Chief Executive Malcolm Walker was named Best Leader Of A Big Company In The UK. So clearly they are doing a great deal right. But why the inadvertent sexism? To me, it seems not only patronising but outdated and out of touch.
In years to come, however, when my future children are misbehaving while my wife is away for the weekend for her well-earned power-break, I might thank Iceland's advertising copywriters. For I will glower and declare, "THAT'S why Mum's gone to Iceland!"
Ashley is a blogger, copywriter and editor.