Smugness is a tricky beast to harness. Do it wrong, and you risk having the opposite effect to the one you intended. This is certainly the case with the smug parents in the "Gerber Grow-Up Plan" commercial.
Being a parent means constantly navigating a sea of judgment, both the judgment of others and your own self-criticism. Why not leverage that process to sell life insurance for babies? That seems to be the line of reasoning.
The obvious problem is that babies do not need life insurance. It's a tragic thing if a baby dies, I think we can all agree on that. But life insurance is designed to help supplement the lost income from a family earner. Unless your baby is supporting your household as a day trader with eTrade, this is not an issue for you.
Baby life insurance could also help cover funeral costs. But I guess Gerber executives got the willies at the thought of using the phrase "funeral costs for babies" in their ad. Can't blame 'em.
Instead, Gerber talks up the ability of the Grow-Up Plan to be used for college, 17 years from now, presuming your baby doesn't die and leave you the death benefit. Fair enough, and it's true that college is getting more expensive every day, and Americans don't save enough money in general.
But here is a tip: if you are hanging out with other parents of new babies, and they are bemoaning how difficult it is to be a parent, do not raise your hand and exclaim that you have already started saving for your baby's college tuition. Unlike the parents in the commercial, real-life parents will not be curious and grateful for this information. In fact, depending on the amount of wine being deployed at this play date, you could end up being bludgeoned to death with a tattered copy of What To Expect When You're Expecting.
The ad also makes it sound like it's weird and complicated to figure out how to save money for your baby's college fund. Well, it isn't. Just transfer money into a savings account. Boom: done. If you don't have a savings account already, your bank will be thrilled to open one for you.
Worse, the ad implies that once you get a Gerber Grow-Up Plan, you too can become one of those smug know-it-all parents who goes around feeling superior to everyone else. Don't do it!