Love Payless, Hate this Mommy Ad

Readers — I sit here IN my Payless sneakers, my Payless flats right beside me. I’m a Payless FAN, but not of this ad:

Excuse me — ALL SUMMER this woman’s kids have been INSIDE? All the joys of playing ball, bobbing in an inner tube and throwing a Frisbee take place in her LIVING ROOM? The kids don’t leave till they GO TO SCHOOL?!!

This is culture CHANGING in front of our eyes, folks! Yes, I know the ad is tongue in cheek. But the message we are getting along with our bargain shoes is that even on the sunniest summer day: Kids and the outdoors do not mix.

Yes they do, Payless! Yes they do!

And by the way, when kids run around, their shoes wear out a lot faster.

Just sayin’. – L

42 Responses to Love Payless, Hate this Mommy Ad

  1. Papilio August 15, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    YOU’RE BACK!!! 😀 😀

  2. Havva August 15, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    Maybe they are afraid the shoes will wear out too fast?

    I once remember my mom returning to pay less and getting a refund for a pair of knock of Keds that my sister wore out in less than a week. Granted my sister was insanely hard on shoes. Her idea of fun was to spend a few hours a day spinning on the front patio under a flying metal rod (aka baton). That normally wore a hole through the sole of her shoes in about 3 weeks.

  3. Puzzled August 15, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    I hate all the back to school ads. They’re all premised on “oh my god, my kids are around, this is so terrible.” I’m a teacher – I am excited to go back to school, which I understand. Kids are great people, and I miss having them around in summer. I don’t know why ads are trying to push the opposite on parents.

    On the other hand, I don’t totally look forward to the end of summer, because I can’t just be around them, I have to school them, which I think is a bad idea. I feel bad for the kids having to come back.

  4. Papilio August 15, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    (Yay new dose of insanity!)

    See, in retrospect this^ commercial for laundry detergent seems waaay less annoying!

  5. Nancy August 15, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    Actually, I see this as kids running in and out of the house; from the pool, from the yard, not seeming to realize that they were now indoors and the frisbee shouldn’t be thrown and the inner tube should have been left pool side. Seems like busy kids to me.

  6. lollipoplover August 15, 2013 at 2:15 pm #


    I guess we’re supposed to feel sorry for the poor mom who is picking up toys while her brats are running wild and breaking things by playing indoors? Get a backbone, mom.

    I’m probably showing my age here, but the ball throwing reminded me of the Brady Bunch episode: Mom always says- don’t play ball in the house.

  7. Mark Davis August 15, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    I dunno, I think the intent is just to make the house seem chaotic, I don’t think it’s really a comment on whether kids should be inside or not.

    And as far as looking forward to kids going back to school, I think every parent has been there, and identifying with that makes the add funnier IMO. We could probably all lighten up a bit about this I think.

  8. Michelle August 15, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

    I have a lot of kids (soon to be 8), and I homeschool, so I deal *constantly* with the assumption that my life must be miserable because all my kids do all day is hang around the house and drive me crazy, and that I have no time to do anything myself, because I spend 24/7 supervising and entertaining a bunch of kids.

    I always want to ask these parents, “Don’t your kids ever go play outside?? Don’t your kids have hobbies or activities that they do without you?? Don’t your kids spend any time doing things that are not arranged and closely supervised by you or other adults??”

    Honestly, I spend a LOT of my day reading. Most of my job, when I’m not actively teaching a lesson or enforcing clean-up time, is buying more glue sticks and saying YES. “Yes, you can cut up that cardboard box. Yes, you can go to the park; take your sister with you. Yes, you can set up your tent in the backyard.”

    I also kiss a lot of boo-boos, because that happens when you actually let kids do things, but it’s not the end of the world.

  9. Phil Wilkey August 15, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    I don’t know, seems pretty harmless to me. I free range parent and am counting down to the first day of school.

  10. Laura August 15, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    I saw the ad the other day. All I thought is the stay-at-home gets a break when the kids go to school. That’s it. 30 seconds of showing the kids playing in the house not picking up after themselves doesn’t mean that’s what they did all summer.

  11. lollipoplover August 15, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    I don’t care for the ad mainly because the kids are bratty and the mom does nothing about it. That I find irritating. I also am one who will be thrilled when the school year starts!

    At least Payless didn’t get accused of bullying kids with their ads like JC Penney. I cannot fathom the controversy in this:

  12. Adriana August 15, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    The screen door is open and the kids can’t play outside and are running amok in in the house? sigh… yeah tongue in cheek but still other, better ways to promote the need for new shoes…

    I love having the kids with me with no real schedules just doing whatever comes to mind. I rather resent school time with the kids gone all the time. I also dislike when strangers tell me “oh you must be ready for school to start!” I usually respond with “No not really” or “why?”…

  13. Warren August 15, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

    Sign of the times. A sad one at that.

    As for the jcpenny ad………….it is insane to think it is promoting bullying. Stand For the Silent has it on their facebook, and I encourage people to comment.

  14. pentamom August 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    I don’t really take anything in an ad seriously, but I do get irritated by the constant media presentation of kids as being little monsters and parents as hapless, worn out observers of the chaos who can’t cope. I don’t just mean commercials and sitcoms, but talk shows, columnists, lots of places.

    No kids are perfect angels, and some are more difficult than others, but kids as a generality can be taught rules (as in expectations of appropriate behavior in various circumstances) and manners. Commercials are supposed to be at least somewhat relatable, and all these commercials that depict moms as helplessly overwhelmed and unable to manage their kids to any extent at all only make me think, “Whatever THAT woman is selling, I don’t need, because my life doesn’t look like that at all.”

    That said, I do like Payless for cheap, disposable shoes, like for growing kids or something “cute” as an extra for myself, but I’ve come to realize that spending a bit more and getting something that still looks and feels good the next year is a lot more frugal.

  15. lynnie August 15, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

    That commercial annoyed me from the very first time I saw it. It shows a society that pretty much lets children run amok and then resents the children for their parents’ inability to discipline them. I might get all soapboxy on this issue so I will restrain myself from rambling.

  16. Kurt Kemmerer August 15, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    Commercials are always annoying. I don’t watch TV, so I tend to miss them, luckily.

    Still, I’m not sure this is all that horrific. It’s quick and actually quite meaningless. My kid plays outside most of the summer, either with kids on the block or at sports camps (his choice) or backpacking. That doesn’t mean I have no involvement.

    Anyway, I’m not seeing the big deal here.

  17. Floyd Stearns August 15, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

    SIGH…what’s a Mom to do?????

  18. Elzo August 15, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

    The only thing crazy about the ad is that the kids are wearing shoes in the summertime. Of course, being an ad about a shoe store they probably want to promote the idea that shoes should always be worn.

  19. Gina August 15, 2013 at 6:54 pm #

    Puzzled: As a parent of 5, I always felt the same way. I LOVED (and still LOVE) being around my kids at all ages. That’s why I had them! I also wish kids didn’t have to be in school so much and didn’t have so much homework and testing (NO testing would be great!)

    As for the ad, I didn’t really see it as the kids not being outside. I agree with the above poster who said it looks like the kids are just ignoring the doors and running in and out. I love it!

  20. Donna August 15, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

    I adore my child and was still very ready for her to go back to school last week (yes, we’ve already been back in school for a week and half). And that mother was exactly me on the first day back when I texted my BFF with a “ah, peace and quiet” shortly after seeing her off on the first day. Give me a month and I’ll be ready for school to be out again. And after a few weeks, ready for her to go back again. And so on it goes.

  21. Angela Barnard August 15, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    But, Lenore, her front door is OPEN. The kids can still SEE the great outdoors! Doesn’t that count?

  22. Mae August 15, 2013 at 10:20 pm #

    @Michelle-I’m a homeschool mom too and it makes me sad that so many parents tell me they could never spend all that time with their kids. I know homeschooling is not for every family but it’s such a blessing fot me to have mine around that it’s hard to heat that from other parents. (No judgement here, if it sounded that way. I have many close friends that send their kids to school and they are wonderful parents. It’s just sad when I hear that *one* remark.)

  23. hineata August 15, 2013 at 10:48 pm #

    Totally, totally off topic but not feeling free range right this second, just had 6.9 to go with our shaky earthquake season, feel like driving down to collect the kids right now, totally ridiculous because nothing in our area has fallen down and son just texted to say he anyway is fine….

    Anyone else feel funny sometimes in a’ crisis’?

    Bugger, just happened again….Anyone got a bed in a geologically sound neighbourhood, LOL?

  24. Puzzled August 16, 2013 at 2:49 am #

    Gina – yes, no testing would be a great start. As a teacher, I’ll say that tests show just about nothing. As far as I can tell, tests and grades exist so that teachers can project their inadequacies onto students. Every year, I present to the faculty at my school a plan for doing away with grades – different every year. Some day, it’s going to happen.

  25. Andy August 16, 2013 at 3:01 am #

    I dunno … the lady does not seem overwhelmed to me. She does not seem bothered by running kids. (I would be bothered by that ball and lamp but whatever.)

    I read it as “it is pleasant to have several hours of time when I have no kids related duties and can experience complete total silence”. That sentiment strikes me as something a lot of parents can relate to.

    When kids go to school, she has suddenly way more uninterrupted free time. You do not have that even if the kid is calm and play mostly alone all day.

  26. bmommyx2 August 16, 2013 at 3:33 am #

    Hmm, I didn’t really take it that way. Maybe her kids just came in or are on their way out.

  27. Suzanne August 16, 2013 at 6:47 am #

    I agree with Puzzled who commented that the biggest point of the ad is that the mom is so looking forward to the kids going back to school so the house will be quiet. Which I think is another facet media plays on that I disagree with, mom’s being overwhelmed by having their kids around. Maybe it’s because they don’t play outside on their own enough 😉

    I’m sad that the kids are going back – the summer went too fast.

  28. Aimee August 16, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    I totally agree that the premise that the kids are indoors all day is completely lame.


    As someone who writes advertising, I can tell you that whoever wrote that ad DEFINITELY was not thinking about the cultural issues around kids inside vs. outside. It’s just way easier to plan a video shoot in an indoor setting… you can get everyone in the shot. And you never have to reschedule because of rain.

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar 🙂

  29. pentamom August 16, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    Aimee, I agree with you, but on the other hand…

    if it were generally accepted as a ridiculous or unsavory premise that kids would run around destroying the house and yelling while the mom was trying to talk to someone else (us) and the mom was just cheerfully ignoring the situation, someone would know that the commercial would play badly and say that it needed to be done differently.

    That it’s not perceived that way is an indicator, even if no deliberate message is being sent.

  30. Donna August 16, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    “Commercials are supposed to be at least somewhat relatable, and all these commercials that depict moms as helplessly overwhelmed and unable to manage their kids to any extent at all only make me think, ‘Whatever THAT woman is selling, I don’t need, because my life doesn’t look like that at all.'”

    But I know many people whose life does look like that and houses where children rule the roost or, at least, are ignored when they act like that as it is easier to deal with the chaos than discipline the children. Commercials can’t always speak to everyone.

  31. Shawn August 16, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    Papillo! What planet did you get that video from? lol Kids playing outside, using ingenuity and imagination, and parents and adults not calling CPS?

    Pentamom, what’s ironic about that commerical is, the very annoyance the mother feels, is caused by not letting her children go outside to play. Like saying you want to lose weight, but won’t stop eating junk food. lol Just another proof that it’s all about the parents and how they feel. Except for the Payless branding, I didn’t get that as a shoe commercial at all.

  32. Katie August 16, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    Not a fan of payless. This ad makes me even less of a fan. The mom totally needs to open that door and let the kids play outside. Then she might like them a little bit better and can get over her martyrdom.

    As for the JC Penny thing people are mentioning I think the ad is hilarious and shows how American’s are addicted to buying cheap stuff. I think it’s funny that JCC Penny advertises as if they are a high end store and thee exclusive place to shop: which they certainly aren’t-they are a mid-range store. And for their prices I could probably go and buy high end stuff worn a few times at a consignment store.

  33. Shawn August 16, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    Aimee, I agree with pentamom. It’s called responsible advertising. If we see this as a negative commercial, a good chance many others will too. It paints a bad picture for the company. And working for an ad company, you should know that image is everything for businesses.

    If I saw a Nike commercial where kids were running around outside (no parents in sight), having a great time. Different activities, different children, different places. Sunny, and wide open. Then just have “Back To School” come up just before the NIKE branding. I would be more inclined to go and get my kid a couple of pairs of Nike for back to school. I wouldn’t even think about the cost of the shoes. Why? Because I associated, kids happy and having fun with back to school. For me, it’s all about my kid.

  34. Jenna K. August 16, 2013 at 7:25 pm #

    We switched from a traditional school schedule (12 weeks of summer) to a year round school schedule (3 weeks of summer). Most of the parents I know were overjoyed because they wouldn’t have to have their kids home with them whining they are bored all day long. I am truly sad about this change. While the kids still get the same amount of time off school, they just go nine weeks on, three weeks off, I will miss the long summer. We spend mornings doing structured activities and learning things they don’t always get in school (art and learning about other cultures and certain science projects and field trips) and we spend the afternoons having “free time” where the kids can go outside and do just about whatever strikes their fancy. The whole notion of not wanting your kids around because you feel the need to entertain them constantly or they’ll be bored has always bothered me.

  35. pentamom August 16, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

    True, Donna, which is why the commercial passes muster: it’s NOT a ridiculous or unsavory premise in general. But it is quite a turnoff for those of those for whom it is unsavory.

    Every commercial doesn’t speak to everyone, it’s true, but OTOH people being completely alienated from a brand by hated commercials is not unknown. It seems like, if it’s not actually true that most people are hapless victims of their children’s behavior, the advertisers would take into account the possibility that depicting parenting that way could be alienating to enough people that they would want to avoid doing that. But the troubling possibility is that it actually is true.

  36. pentamom August 16, 2013 at 11:28 pm #

    “those of us”, sorry.

  37. Anna August 17, 2013 at 8:44 am #

    This is a poorly made ad-has nothing to do with cultural implications.
    Sometimes, we tend to read too much into things.
    And, I do not like Payless!

  38. Donna August 17, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    @pentamom – My guess is that the producers of the commercial really don’t expect it to be taken as seriously and as over-analysized as it is being sone here. It is intended to be a 30 second commercial for a shoe store, not a grand social commentary. It seems completely and utterly ridiculous to treat it as such.

    Ultimately most people choose their kids shoes for reasons other than the commercial. Price and whether kid will wear them being the main reasons. The sole aim of the commercial is to remind us that Payless Shoes exists. And it has succeeded. A month from now when I am actually buying new shoes (There is no reason that my child can’t continue to wear her summer clothes to school, so outside of a 1st day of school outfit, I don’t buy new clothes or shoes until weather changes actually require it), I will remember Payless. I won’t remember the details of this fairly ridiculous conversation or whether I liked their commercials but I will likely remember the name now, something I rarely do as I never shop there.

  39. Papilio August 17, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

    @Shawn: 🙂 Yeah – those weird Dutch think CPS has better things to do than bothering kids who are playing outside.

  40. Krista August 18, 2013 at 12:17 am #

    Andy said:

    “I read it as “it is pleasant to have several hours of time when I have no kids related duties and can experience complete total silence”. That sentiment strikes me as something a lot of parents can relate to.”

    This is how I feel about the ad. I’m pretty introverted by nature and having my kids around me all the time does a number for my anxiety disorder. I’m excited for school to start this fall so I have just have some “me” time. This in turn will make it easier for me to be a great parent, since I’ll have time to recharge.

    I expect things will be different once my kids get a bit older. Right now they’re 5.5 yo and 3.5 yo, so I’m still really involved in their day-to-day stuff. I’m looking forward to summers where they can run off by themselves.

  41. pentamom August 18, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    Donna, I’m not talking about “grand social commentary.” I’m talking about whether the conception of a mother unable/unwilling to control her kids’ loud and physically destructive behavior right in front of her is instinctively attractive, indifferent, or repulsive, to more people.

    ISTM in a society where it’s tacitly understood that most people would be instinctively repulsed by such a scenario, it wouldn’t be used to sell things, because generally speaking you don’t sell things to people by turning them off. I’m not saying the commercial was trying to either send a message or deliberately cater to a certain group, I’m just thinking that it indicates a certain cultural context if people make that commercial and think, “Yeah, enough people will identify with that commercial, or at least few enough will hate it, that it will sell lots of shoes.” Unless you assume that people who get paid lots of money to make commercials that cost lots of money to run don’t have any idea at all about what the viewing public will respond positively or negatively to.

  42. Sarah Pruett August 23, 2013 at 1:09 am #

    I think interpreting a few seconds of kids running around the house with outdoor gear and assuming they’ve been in the living room all summer is odd. Do we really believe the kid runs around with an inner tube and swimsuit but doesn’t swim?

    I also find it really odd that fellow parents in this comment thread are imagining a mom who “can’t control her kids” based on a snippet of a commercial scene. Have your kids ever ran around with a ball and thrown it against the wall? Am I the only one who can envision that maybe when this imaginary family is not being filmed that she might be a great mom who does discipline her kids and does let them outside?! Can we not imagine that she loves her children and affords them freedom to explore and grow but also appreciates the calm in a house that the back to school season brings?

    Sad that we parents and moms, especially, often look for every single chance we can get to tear each other down.