Friday, December 11, 2015

Again With the Folgers Advertisement

UPDATE FOR 2015: Here's a comedy video that extends the ad. Friends of Lily are laughing.]

Now is as good of a time as any other to go through this year's criticism of a Folgers Coffee Christmas-themed television advertisement. I've blogged about this ad and reaction to it before, here and here. [This is bumped up from 2012 because the ad is getting talked about again.]

In a nutshell, the ad depicts a brother arriving home after being being away out of the country, and his sister is happy to see him. Some viewers see undertones of incest, because, you know, siblings are supposed to hate each other and fight like cats and dogs all of the time. Since they see undertones of incest, many of them take the opportunity to remind us that they think consensual incest (consanguinamory) between siblings is icky.

There's some language the FCC wouldn't allow on American broadcast radio, just to warn you.

Well, it’s Thanksgiving and officially time to start showing commercials for the holiday season. That includes the creepy commercial that Folgers has been running since 2009… a commercial that may or may not imply incest. “You’re my present this year.” *shudders*
Goodness forbid she be happy her brother is home. No, she should be demanding a new smart phone as her present.

Aja Romano offers "How to talk to your family about the Folgers incest commercial" at

1) Mention the 55,000 people on Tumblr who are totally into it
Twitter user Nicole James had no idea what a celebration she’d kick off on November 18 when she tweeted about the infamous Folgers holiday commercial that got everyone talking in 2009 and resurfaces every year around Thanksgiving:

Twitter and Tumblr user JayGabler shared James’ tweet with Tumblr. Though James was far from the first to read incestuous undertones into the Folgers commercial, Tumblr was a bit slow on the uptake. But with JayGabler providing the YouTube link to the commercial, they caught on fast.
I suspect many people expressing disapproval are protesting a little too much. Here are two Tumblr tags about this.
2) Talk about how genetic sexual attraction is totally a Thing

When siblings who were separated in childhood meet again as adults, they’re genetically predisposed to find each other attractive. It’s a phenomenon called “genetic sexual attraction,” in which the similarities of two relatives create an increased draw between them.

Humans, even young ones, get weirded out by the idea of finding our brothers and sisters hot.
Some do. Not all.

Then the piece goes on to note how popular incestuous fanfic "shipping" is...
Take for instance the thousands of Supernatural fics focusing on the romantic ship of Sam and Dean Winchester—better known throughout fandom as “Wincest.” Wincest is by far the most popular current sibling romantic pairing in fandom—and fans of the pairing will eagerly tell you why.


Interested in the fictional love of two siblings but aren’t sure Folgers is right for you? Never fear! There’s plenty more where that came from—such as the 72 works featuring variants on the Pevensie family from C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, always a recurring fandom favorite.  Simon/River from Firefly is another winning combination. Anime fans know well the lure of Ed/Al from Fullmetal Alchemist. For an old standby, has plenty of Weasleycest; if bandom is more to your taste, Waycest, featuring Gerard and Mike Way of My Chemical Romance, is a staple. And if you want a newer take, sample any of the 1,700 Thor/Loki fics on AO3. As always, in fandom, the possibilities are endless.

Max Read at has "Kick Off the Christmas Season with Thousands of Words of Incest Fanfic About the Weirdest Folger’s Commercial of All Time."
All of which is more than enough to create a small community (or "fandom") of true believers on the internet. Archive of our Own, one of the premiere fan fiction sites on the internet, has three different stories in its "Folgers 'Home for the Holidays' Commercial" section:
Kick Off the Christmas Season with Thousands of Words of Incest Fanfic About the Weirdest Folger's Commercial of All Time

There was much reaction from readers, much of it the usual bigotry expressed towards affectionate siblings. But here are a couple of comments I thought were worth repeating...

Jennifer A. Jones

How strange that anyone would see incest in this ad! When I first saw it on TV the other day, I loved it. I simply see a sweet moment between a little sister and a big brother... maybe it's because I have a big brother? But, I see nothing incest-y about this ad.
Americans really are 2 steps away from the Taliban.
Don't touch!
Don't look!
Don't smile!
Don't Love!
All too true.

I think Folgers should double-down. Bring back the same pair of actors as the same characters, sharing an apartment and enjoying an evening at home, perhaps warming up with coffee after a rainy day, reclining together on the couch. Make a series out of it, always just showing them enjoying each other's company and being affectionate in a non-sexual way.
— — —


  1. I haven't seen the commercial yet, but I doubt that Folgers intended for the siblings to be consanguineous. Going by that, I really think that at least some of the people concluding that it MUST have been about a consanguineous brother and sister, are projecting a little.

    My reasoning my not be perfect, but there are studies (such as the one that one of the links on the right point to) that show that those with homophobic tendencies tend to also have homosexual impulses. They tend to project the trait onto many things, most of which are based on the most minor of details. I think it is similar to consanguinamory. What I mean is that those that constantly see things like the folgers commercial as incestous are probably projecting their own incestous attractions externally.

    It allows them to distance themselves from something they view as wrong or gross or otherwise undesirable. In their minds, they are in the clear because they targeted the behavior and feel less guilty about it themselves.

    The downside to such projecting behavior is that because they are constantly on the lookout for subtle hints, there is a lot of false positives. And they end up shunning behavior that is even similar or leads to what they consider undesirable. In this case, they see a brother and sister not acting like children who hate each other and assume that that must mean they are having sex. Suddenly almost any scene with family becomes suspect.

    In a way, I feel sorry for these people, if it were me, I don't think I would be getting much rest. Being constantly on the lookout seems tiring. On the other hand, I think they should grow up, and until they do, let them deal with the constant insecurities until they figure it out.

    Now I'm not saying they want to have sex with a family member, but I think they may be afraid of appearing to be attracted to a family member, and may somewhat be.

  2. Have you seen this parody of the ad?

  3. Nevermind, I saw the video you linked to! Yours is better. :)


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