This ad from the 1990’s is a great illustration of two reversals at once: From Serious to Playful, as the goal-orientation of a businesswoman preparing for work is converted into the frantic fun of getting to the beach; and from Mastery to Sympathy, as “bringing in the bacon” is converted into “caring for the kids.” The advertising message? Only with AT&T can you truly have it all! Watch the video, and then read more about Reversal Theory below.
The ability to create reversals in oneself and others is one of the most powerful lessons from Reversal Theory. Here, a mom focused in Serious and Mastery (signalled by the goal orientation in preparing for another busy day providing for the kids) experiences a reversal into Playful and Sympathy in one comment by her daughter: “Mom, when can I be your client?” The reversal presumably works by pulling mom back into the moment (Playful) and reminding her to give her children the care and attention that she gives her clients (Sympathy).
Of course, the subtext of Serious and Mastery remain just beneath the surface, with a health dose of Conforming added as well. Do you want to be a good mom, achieve your goals, care for your kids and “have it all” in the crazy 1990’s world? Then you need to get yourself an AT&T phone; meeting those high expectations of motherhood requires technology, after all!