Diversity on screen now includes divorce in new TV commercials

How refreshing to depict divorce as a reality for so many families, something decent people can learn to navigate and still maintain close family relationships.

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Ford in Denmark uses divorce as the topic in an innovative series of TV commercials. Photo: Courtesy Ford Motor Co./YouTube
Ford in Denmark uses divorce as the topic in an innovative series of TV commercials. Photo: Courtesy Ford Motor Co./YouTube

SAN DIEGO, June 21, 2016 – Families are far more diverse in advertising than ever before, with same-sex parents, interracial families and other non-traditional families depicted to capture the broad definition of family in the United States today.

But for many years, divorced families have not been part of the mix, even though more than 40 percent of all Americans are part of a “blended family” where parents and children come together from previous households and marriages. Divorce is rarely mentioned or pointed out. Perhaps we can imagine the families we see as being more like our households and assume they are divorced, but it’s not been part of the narrative.

The Honey Maid brand of graham crackers broke through in 2014 with a divorced family depicted alongside punk dads and two-father households. Because divorced people buy graham crackers too, imagine that!

It’s taken the Ford Motor Co.’s operation in Denmark to finally make divorce a central theme in an unusual advertising campaign this year. It’s not at all like any car ads or any type of ads you’re used to seeing in the United States.


The series of three short films running about 15 minutes total uses a family’s impending divorce as the story behind their campaign. It’s a subtle way of selling cars, but it is also a realistic look at the challenging emotions of divorce.

The film features a mother, father and two children, a teen girl and her younger brother. The brother is taking the divorce much harder than his sister, and in part one he expresses himself in the only way he knows how in part one. His sister rallies to his side.

In part two, the family starts to grasp their situation and realize they must deal with the emotional crisis. In part three, the parents realize they are still a family and they can still support each other.

The one consistent presence in their lives, the one thing they can count on, is the family’s Ford.

Watch all three parts of this series here:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Denmark has one of the highest divorce rates in the world. In 2014, the divorce rate rose 23 percent over the previous 10-year average. Ford decided to address this reality with its creative concept for the campaign, under the general theme “Success Against The Odds.”

Director Daniel Kragh-Jacobsen told AdWeek magazine he wanted to touch the reality of families in Denmark and tell the human story behind the statistics.

“We started thinking about how prevalent the car is in a divorce. It is both a tool and a setting,” he says. “Ford’s demography really is the Danish middle class, who do have the highest divorce rate in the world. And so we pitched this film.

“It was about real people, and yes, the story is centered around a product, but the product is simply a prop or a setting, just like in a fiction film.”

In a news release, Ford Denmark marketing chief Kristine Dam Jensen said the scenario is relatable and much more real than typical auto advertising.

“We want to show our family cars in authentic environments and everyday situations that many can relate to,” Jensen says. “The car is a rallying point for the family, even in difficult times like a divorce, and Ford Denmark wants to acknowledge families’ struggle and show that the car can be a place where you get positive experiences.”

Kragh-Jacobsen hopes people are attracted to the film because they see themselves in the story. “They can relate, and it isn’t a glossy picture of the perfect family driving the perfect car. Whether this will influence them to buy their new vehicle, I’m not sure. I guess it is creating some attention around Ford, since they are trying something new. The most important thing for me is that our story resonates and is remembered.”

While divorce has lost the stigma it held in our grandparents’ generation, at a time when Americans would have thought twice about voting for a divorced candidate for president, it still remains under the radar in popular culture except in the most negative possible light (like the movies “War of the Roses” or “Kramer vs. Kramer”) or as material for misogynist comedians.

How refreshing to depict divorce as a reality for so many families, something decent people can learn to navigate and still maintain close family relationships. Congratulations to Ford and its advertising agency for this breakthrough. I predict it will still be some time before we see this kind of sensitive, smart approach in the United States. But we’re getting closer.

Myra Chack Fleischer serves as lead counsel for Fleischer & Ravreby in Carlsbad, California, with a focus on divorce, property, custody and support, settlement agreements, mediation, asset division and family law appeals. Read more Legally Speaking in Communities Digital News. Follow Myra on Twitter: @LawyerMyra. Fleischer can be reached via Google +

Copyright © 2016 by Fleischer & Ravreby

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