Tylenol Further Explores the Changing Face of the American Family in New Ad

Same-sex and interracial couples

Tylenol is continuing its celebration of diverse families with a new commercial from J. Walter Thompson in New York featuring same-sex and interracial couples.

Titled "How We Family," the ad is part of a broader effort to to challenge conventional—that is to say, conservative—definitions of family. Tylenol launched the campaign last fall by repurposing the classic holiday dinner scene in Norman Rockwell's painting "Freedom From Want," to profile contemporary families, including a lesbian couple who work closely with one woman's ex-husband to raise the children from both relationships.

Sure, the tagline is a little clunky. And the cultural tides on LGBT issues have been shifting for a while now (a majority of Americans expect the Supreme Court to allow same-sex marriage in the court's imminent decision, and support it; brands have been increasingly open in embracing the LGBT community). So it's a question of degrees as to how much Tylenol is pioneering, and how much it's capitalizing.

But that also almost doesn't matter. In a marketplace where some consumers still lose their minds over a Cheerios commercial with an interracial couple, and where the heads of reactionaries similarly explode over Tylenol's decision to feature a same-sex couple in an ad, the brand deserves credit for using its ad dollars to spread a message that's in exactly the right spirit … even with a desire to profit (and a considerable opportunity to do so) at the heart of it.

And while the topic might seem a bit far afield from the brand's core business, it's actually pretty appropriate for a product that makes pain go away.