Dairy Queen is guilt tripping working parents to spend more time with their kids. Here's why that's a problem.

Dairy Queen is encouraging parents to enjoy some quality time with their children this summer. Sure, that’s a really nice idea, but the company might have missed the mark with its messaging.

The brand behind the beloved Blizzard just released a new ad featuring a choir of children called “The Summer Skip Day Singers.”

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The song they’re singing so innocently starts, “are you working, are you working, mom and dad? Of course you are.” Then they explain that Dairy Queen is calling, “but you’re gone, always gone.”

The song continues on about how the children spend more time with the neighbors than with their parents: “But it’s not too late, you can still fix it. Skip some work. Hang with me.”

Dairy Queen is not denying that it enlisted a choir of children to “guilt trip parents into spending more time with their children this summer.” They’ve named this effort #SummerSkipDay.

Dairy Queen’s new ad guilts parents into skipping work to be with their kids. (Photo: @dairyqueen/Instagram)
Dairy Queen’s new ad guilts parents into skipping work to be with their kids. (Photo: @dairyqueen/Instagram)

“The DQ brand is a summer staple, so we felt like it was time to encourage our fans to take a day off, live their best summer lives and make a memory with their children,” Maria Hokanson, executive vice president of marketing for American Dairy Queen Corporation, said in a press release.“To promote the effort, the DQ brand has created the Skip Day Soft Serve Singers, a children’s choir, who will be inviting and harmoniously guilt-tripping parents to take a day off through several online videos. Songs are sung to folk classics such as I’ve Been Working on the Railroad with alternate lyrics.”

That one goes a little something like this:

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?

Yikes. These children don’t sugarcoat.

Dairy Queen had the right intentions with this project: to promote quality time among families (while enjoying Dairy Queen ice cream, of course). According to a Project: Time Off study, 25 percent of American workers did not take a vacation in 2017, the company noted in its press release.

But the delivery of this message is a little offensive. Most parents already know they aren’t taking enough vacation days, and already feel guilty about the amount of time they work.

“I was appalled and disappointed by this Dairy Queen ad,” Dr. Barbara Greenberg, a clinical psychologist specializing in family and relationship issues, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I am concerned about making parents feel more shamed. The line saying ‘you can fix it’ sends the message to the parents that they have done something wrong.” She feels the brand is “exploiting parental guilt.”

Children can get the wrong idea, too. “Not only is it a guilt-ridden message to parents, but I am equally concerned about what message this sends to the children,” she said. “A kid might have thought everything was fine but because of seeing this ad, all of a sudden there’s a question mark in their mind about whether or not their parents are behaving right or wrong. And that’s certainly not a message that should be advertised to children.”

Not all parents have the luxury of just taking off work. For some that means missing a shift, and in turn losing out on money. Most parents really need those jobs to adequately care for their children, Greenberg points out, so jeopardizing their employment by simply “skipping a day” is not a responsible option.

“It’s very difficult to take time off; even for people that really want to take the time off, it’s not easy,” she says. “And this ad poses it as a very simplistic concept; that if parents have the desire to be with their children, they can take off.”

Maria Hokanson, executive vice president of marketing for American Dairy Queen Corporation (ADQ), tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “We know families are more busy today than ever, but offer a gentle reminder to slow down and pause to make the most of these fleeting summer days. DQ has always been a place of joyful summer moments and these kids helped bring that reminder to life in a light-hearted way.”

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