The force is strong with Campbell's new Star Wars inspired soup ad. In what may be the best riff ever on the iconic movie franchise's most famous line, two adorable dads quote Darth Vader while adorably feeding their adorable son lunch. You see where I'm going with this? It's adorable. But it's also important and relevant. And maybe, hopefully, indicative that LGBT representation in mainstream advertising and media is becoming part of the norm — because as the ad's tagline says, this does represent "real, real life" for so many families.
Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to count a precise number of LGBT families in the United States, as fear of discrimination and bias often leads to gay couples choosing to remain off the statistical radar. However, as previous research demonstrates, LGBT families are a large part of our family landscape. A 1995 National Health and Life Social Survey by E.O. Lauman, for example. found that up to nine million American children have gay or lesbian parents. The study is old — 20 years old, to be precise — but it's worth noting that it was published one year after Ikea's "Dining Room" ad featuring a gay couple made advertising history. Then in 2010, the U.S. Census allowed cohabiting same-sex couples to select "married" as their designation for the first time in history, although as the Impact Program points out, it still excluded LGBT singles, same-sex couples who cohabit, and bisexual and transgender relationships. This Census reported that more than 110,000 same-sex couples were raising children under the age of 18. And in March of 2015, a report by the Williams Institute at UCLA estimated that 122,000 same-sex couples were raising children, as well as that 145,000 students are the children of same-sex couples. Again, these numbers are incomplete — they don't account for single LGBT parents, LGBT relationships other than same-sex ones, and many others — and comparatively speaking, they're a relatively small percentage. But hundreds of thousands of people is by no means insignificant — and every single one of those people matters.
Commercials like this one, then, are vital for inclusion. Created by BBDO New York for Campbell's, the 40-second ad celebrates the face of every American family in that it recognizes that that face is constantly evolving. "The American family is changing faster than at any time in recent history, and it is now a true mosaic of shapes and sizes, all bonded through love, and love of good food," explained Yin Woon Rani, vice president of marketing activation for Campbell's, in a statement.
As for the decision to use gay parents as part of a Star Wars collaboration, well, it's both brilliant and well-timed. In March, news broke that the official Star Wars canon was getting its very first LGBT character in the form of a lesbian Imperial, Moff Mors, from the novel Lords of the Sith. In September, novelist Chuck Wendig released Star Wars: Aftermath featuring a gay protagonist. In response to the naysayers who cried this creative choice was tarnishing their childhood memories, Wendig delivered a witty, albeit slightly acerbic response to their vitriol, saying, "Sorry, you squawking saurian — meteor's coming. And it's a fabulously gay Nyan Cat meteor with a rainbow trailing behind it, and your mode of thought will be extinct. You're not the Rebel Alliance. You're not the good guys. You're the ... Empire, man."
So, if we were to run with this metaphor (and we are, because it's super fun), Campbell's would most definitely be part of the Alliance — and they aren't alone. In the last few years alone, a growing faction of LGBT-friendly companies have chosen to fight the good fight for gay rights. Here are the ones that got me right in the feels and made me want to run out to the store and, in an act of solidarity and support, stock up on whatever they were selling.
1. Campbell's "Your Father"
First things first, right? Kudos to Campbell's for giving us a sweet, funny glimpse into the life of a gay family with obviously impeccable taste in movies. And, for the record, that Chewbacca impression slayed.
2. Honey Maid's "Dad & Papa"
If this docu-commercial doesn't tug at your heartstrings, you may actually be a cyborg, bruh. Also worth noting? These gay dads remind us that, until SCOTUS's historic ruling this year, marriage for a gay couple was essentially relegated to sharing a mortgage.
3. DirectTV's "Rivalry"
Not only does this ad boast some fierce effects, but it also speaks directly to a common misconception involving gay men and sports. Spoiler: Football is not just for hetero, white, beer-swilling dudes.
4. Cheerios' "Gay Adoption"
Cheerios has turned out to be such a champion for social equality, so I'm proud my pantry is full of bright yellow boxes. The beautiful, honest look at gay adoption for two Canadian dads in this ad is the company's latest move that leaves no doubt in my mind this cereal is seriously good for my heart.