This explorative and qualitative paper analyzes how risk and anxiety are socially constructed and interlinked with mothering in advertising. Through an analysis of how risk and anxiety appear in Danonino™ commercials from 2001-07, the focus is on how commercial communications both enact and co-generate these social constructions.
With a point of departure in a literature review of motherhood, anxiety, food, and advertising, this analysis is based on 167 advertisements for the Danonino brand, broadcast in five European countries, and uses Hetzel's concept of "tensive rhetorics."
Our findings show that in the European commercials for the Danonino brand, five kinds of anxieties are dealt with: anxieties linked to the responsibility for providing healthy food to support a child's physical growth; anxieties associated with the responsibility for providing appropriate nutrients to foster a child's intellectual development; anxieties linked to the social exclusion of a child from his/her peer group; anxieties raised due to repeated conflicts about food intake that may threaten family bonding relationships and mothers' anxiety for not being present enough for the child due to their own busy schedules. While these themes appear in all examined contexts, some are more prevalent in some markets than others, and the ways these anxieties are staged differ from context to context. The commercials first emphasize risk in culturally relevant situations and afterwards offer resolutions to recreate mothers' peace of mind.