Royal fever has hit us again, and with the Royal Wedding still in people’s minds, opinions on the Royal Family and the appropriate role for them to play in the modern British psyche will no doubt return
But let’s look past the baby-name-odds, the bejewelled babygros, the mugs, the facial-attributes predictions, the Royal Sick Bags, bespoke nursery suites, gender-guessing donuts and the international congratulations.
As well as the gimmicky brand adoption of the baby motif (I’m looking at you, well-known fabric softener and washing powder brands) there have also been more nuanced, slightly deeper explorations of parenthood by brands, not just stirred up by the Royal Baby.
Last year we saw the P&G Masterbrand campaign thank mothers around the world for the support they give their athlete children; hitting our TV screens at the moment is the SMA ‘You’re doing great’ campaign that acknowledges that parenthood is not always like the traditional view shown in adverts where the baby gazes blissfully into its mother’s eyes in soft focus.
Current attitudes in marketing are developing more around being more supportive to parents. There is less of ‘what a beautiful perfect baby you could have’ and more of a ‘thank you for being a parent’ attitude. Although I’ve yet to see any of these mainstream ads make a real fuss of fathers who take on the same role (the Huggies pregnancy simulator for expectant fathers is a step in the right direction).
A ‘national baby’ forces us to collectively think about life, birth, the future, and ‘what sort of a world will this child grow up in’ in the same way that expectant parents would. For instance, this will be the first Royal Baby born with succession equality. It will also be the first high-profile Royal Baby born in the digital era. Like his/her mother, this baby will have photos, good, bad, and indecent, strewn across the internet from the moment it leaves the hospital, easily searchable for future generations.
But this baby will also be growing up in a world where married parents are only half the story. As the BBC reported this week, only 47.5% of babies are currently born in wedlock. By the time the baby reaches 16, it could be possible that he or she will be able to marry someone of the same sex.
So from a marketing perspective, the diamanté sceptre rattle is a red herring – what is actually interesting about the birth of a new royal is the fact that it encourages us to think more deeply about society, even if we are not parents.
‘Royal fever’ fatigue shouldn’t detract from our national joy at having a new heir (or heiress) to the throne, but it should make us think about who will actually be buying the nappies for the next generation – might it be two dads?
Edie Greaves is associate strategist at The Partners.