I really enjoy the creativity behind many of the commercials for homeowner’s insurance. It’s impressive to see someone have fun with what is generally a pretty dry subject.
However, some of those ads have started hitting just a little too close to home.
I’m not talking about the one that feature Flo and Jamie, or Peyton Manning and Brad Paisley. And I don’t mean the ones about problems with the neighbor’s “fencing” or “clogging” issues. In fact, if you go by my taste in music, my neighbors would probably tell you that I’m the one with the “Ratt” problem.
No, I’m talking about the ads with the tag line, “We can’t protect you from becoming your parents.”
The series was launched a while ago, with a new homeowner who starts making questionable wardrobe choices, driving slow on the freeway for the gas mileage, appreciating some good mulch, and doing awkward stretches before a hike.
Those were pretty funny. While I may have adopted the “dad” wardrobe — especially during the past year’s safer-at-home protocols — I don’t do most of the other things. I mean, I do drive like an old man, but that’s because I was in a car accident when I was 17. No one was seriously injured, but it has informed my driving habits ever since. And the stretches I do before hikes aren’t awkward at all.
More recently, those ads have taken a turn. And I have to say, it kind of hurts.
The new ones feature a “parenta-life coach,” who is supposed to help homeowners avoid turning into their parents. He coaches on important life skills like not using speakerphone in public, limiting the number of pillows on the couch, and refraining from offering unsolicited advice to strangers.
All funny stuff, and things I’ve seen my parents do.
Then there was segment on sitting down in a chair without making what are commonly referred to as “dad noises” — that combination of a grunt, exhale and sigh we older folks tend to make. There was a time when I only made “dad noises” for dramatic effect. More recently, I’ve realized that I make those noises almost every time I sit or bend down. And, like the gentleman in the commercial, I didn’t even realize I was doing it. Oof.
But the segment that really cut deep was then one where the parenta-life coach is leading a seminar, and asks how many people printed out directions to get to the event, implying that it’s a habit you need to drop to “un-become” your parents.
The first time I saw that ad, I had just finished printing out an email with a receipt to take with me for a curbside pick-up. The only reason I didn’t also print directions to the store is because I already knew where I was going. And, ironically, I was printing out my old-fashioned hard copy to go pick an item up at a technology store.
Admittedly, printing directions is not the only time I ignore the piece of technology in my hand in favor of a method you could describe as “quaint.” For example, I write out my shopping and to-do lists on a sticky note — and then stick it to the back of my cellphone, because I know I’ll bring my phone with me, so I won’t forget my list. I am well aware that my phone has an app for that, yet I can’t seem to break that habit. Maybe I need my own parenta-life coach.
For that matter, my parents have fully embraced GPS technology. When last I visited, they had every trip saved in their cars’ GPS units, even the 2-mile jaunts to the grocery store. Of course, they also completely ignored the directions the GPS unit provided, because they knew a “better” way to get there.
So really, I’m not sure which situation requires more coaching — not using the technology, or disregarding the reason for using it in the first place.
Maybe I’ll start making better use of technology. Maybe I’ll start using my phone to compose my to-do lists.
I should jot that down on a sticky note as a reminder.
Will Morrow lives in Kenai. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.