"Parenting isn’t one size fits all anymore – and frankly, it rarely ever was.": Shayna Cohen, Laundry Service

Advertising is shifting to show more diverse, and authentic perspectives

by India Fizer , AdForum

Laundry Service
Full Service
Brooklyn, United States
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Shayna Cohen
SVP, Client Services Laundry Service

The face of modern parenting is changing, and advertising must keep up to accurately reflect society today. We chatted with Shayna Cohen, SVP of Client Services at Laundry Service, about depicting a more balanced, and honest view of family dynamics, what makes a home, and the struggles modern families go through.


How has the depiction of parenthood in advertising evolved?

Once upon a time, we were almost exclusively told that mothers would stay at home to raise the children while their husbands would go out and “bring home the bacon.” Today, we more accurately see families that come in all forms. There’s no longer a focus on women staying at home doing the child-rearing because the workforce is no longer male-dominated in most industries.


How are agencies and brands adapting ad comms to inclusivity around parenting?

Parenting isn’t one size fits all anymore – and frankly, it rarely ever was. Parenting relationships come in every form now. Brands are understanding that consumers want to be seen – to be connected with, not spoken around. And the more brands connect with these modern families, the more they’ll see the bottom-line benefit.


In what ways does your role as a parent inform your work?

My role as a parent really taught me how to emotionally disconnect from things that shouldn’t be taken personally. I also find myself leading with even more compassion, bringing a really maternal approach at times. And as the situation demands, I balance the way that logical facts and emotional understanding weave together to point the path forward. Further, after having my second child, my ability to juggle increased. My experience showed me how to move even more swiftly – with greater accuracy – around the day-to-day of work. I’m not getting caught up in meetings that don’t need me, but rather, focusing on where I’m most needed…just like at home.


What are some areas regarding parenthood that you feel could use more visibility in advertising?

There’s this weird dichotomy in advertising, where parents are either depicted as absolutely drowning OR they’re smooth sailing their way through it all. Showing more of the balance would be ideal since that’s the reality. We very often fall somewhere in the middle, and that’s very okay.


Legal guardians can play a significant role in the lives of children who are no longer with their birth parents. How can brands balance the importance placed on these other parental figures in their messaging?

I think back to my mother, who was predominantly raised by her paternal grandmother. Back then, it was a secretive thing and definitely never addressed in advertising that a house was run by anyone but perfect biological mother and father figures. The reality is, families are not just one type. Brands can lean into what makes a home, versus the literal figureheads. Some brands have touched on this, but many more have spent more time focusing on checking the boxes during calendar moments (e.g. – Pride Month, AAPI Month, etc.). Speaking authentically will come with time – the more brands that lean in, the more commonplace accurate, diverse representation will become.