Oh Dairy Queen – You Broke My Heart


ice cream

By now most people have seen the infamous Dairy queen ad with a children’s choir shaming parents into taking a “skip day” from work to go get a Blizzard. If you haven’t seen it, you’re out of luck because the Dairy Queen PR folks pulled the ad after all of the backlash. However, you can click here to see the story about why the ad was pulled. Spoiler alert – it was due to the immediate backlash from parents because the ad is bonkers!

The song in the ad is sung by children to the tune of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” with lyrics like “You’ve been working this whole summer. You’re just never home. You’ve been working this whole summer. You’re always glued to your phone.”

“You don’t have to write that email. Forget those status reports. Wouldn’t you feel better at the pool in some shorts?”

“I’m spending more time with the neighbors than you. It’s true. But it’s not too late. You can still fix it. Skip some work. Hang with me.”

Heck yeah – most parents would rather be at the pool with their kids than working. I’d also love to spend the entire summer lounging on a beach drinking frosty cocktails and having my feet massaged, but little things like living expense and bills somehow seem to sidetrack that daydream. How dare DQ, an iconic brand, pull a PR stunt to try to shame parents into buying their products. Way to continue to ignite the ridiculous mommy wars and to alienate life-long customers.

Besides the obvious, I’ve been trying to figure out why this one ad bothers me so much. I’m usually pretty good at letting little jabs about being a working mom roll off my back. However, for some reason, this ad really got to me. It also got under the skin of almost every mom I know – those working outside the house, those working from home and those who stay at home.

I grew up with Dairy Queen. There was a small stand in my hometown and on opening day each Spring there was a line around the corner. It was always a big treat to stop at DQ. For me, DQ represented everything from carefree childhood summers to my first job to first dates.

In fact, the parents of a high school friend owned a DQ in a neighboring town. When I was 15, I was beyond excited to get my first job there. But then I failed the Blizzard test. Yes – there’s an actual test! And, I could not make the trademark “Q” at the end of the soft serve cones to save my life. Sadly, my tenure at DQ lasted only one day when my friend’s parents requested I come back only as a customer. Oh the devastation!

Even after my brief stint behind the counter, I was always a lifelong customer. There is a DQ five minutes from my house now and I take my daughters there at least once a week in the summer. It may be on the weekends or after dinner or after camp, but we are there sitting outside laughing and enjoying our treats. I have no doubt they’re logging the DQ summer memories in their minds the same way I did as a kid.

I think that’s part of the reason why this ad has upset me so much. It’s like a trusted lifelong friend getting drunk and sharing all the things they secretly judged you for behind your back.

I was following the Facebook comments about the ad…well, that was before DQ pulled down the ad and all comments on their Facebook page. Putting on my public relations hat, all I can say is, “bad move DQ!” Erasing all the comments is basically telling the public and your customers to zip the lip. And let’s just say, no one likes to be told that. In any case,  the comments ranged from parents angered like me, to the people who preach that if you’re offended it’s because you already feel guilty and that is your own fault, not DQ’s.

Come on, there isn’t a parent out there, working outside the home, working from their home or staying home with their kids, who doesn’t feel parental guilt at some point. If you meet this superhero who claims to never had a guilty parenting moment, please introduce me. I’d love to take a ride on her pet unicorn and catch up over a dinner of fat-free deep dish sausage pizza and calorie-free french silk pie.

Out of a sense of principle, I will no longer be patronizing my local DQ. This pains me a bit because I know most DQ’s are independently owned and shouldn’t be punished by the all mighty parent company. However, at least for the time being, my hard-earned dollars will be spent at Baskin Robins, Culver’s or Cold Stone.





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