Unconditional Free Checking

by Ryan

Every year there seems to be one commercial that captures the hearts and minds of the viewing public. Perhaps the best example of this in the post-lockout era is the Labatt Blue Fish commercial, which ran for almost a full two years in all its fish-talking glory.

This year, however, the most memorable commercial involves a much more serious topic: child abuse.

Now overall the commercial has a good, wholesome message. You want a bank you can raise a child in, and I get that. Personally I spent many long nights locked in the vault at my local HSBC, but back in the day it was called Marine Midland Bank. Ah, memories.

Anyway, everything is going smoothly until that first woman shows up and says this:

“I didn’t want to be a mom. It took me three months to love him.”

Okay, I’m with you so far. You are a horrible person and most certainly a horrible mother. You probably contemplated tossing your child in a mall parking lot trash can, like some people do with sneakers when they get a new pair of Jordans. You were probably dropped as a child and cheat on your taxes. But yeah, keep going.

“Now I can’t imagine my life without him.”

Just a flawless transition here: now she and that baby are attached at the hip. Getting knocked up was the best thing that ever happened to her! That child went from unloved to irresistible in just over 90 days, which is quite the accomplishment. Just imagine, a mother who loves her child! Mother of the year candidate if you ask me. Now the expression on that poor kid’s face completely makes sense:

“Holy shit! Three months?!? I wish I was adopted.”

Now I don’t have much experience in the ways of motherhood and rearing children, but to me this lady seems like an awful human being. Maybe someone with children can chime in here and set me straight, but I thought you’re supposed to love your children no matter how much they get in the way of your banking. I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to break in your love for a baby like you break in a baseball glove, it’s supposed to be ready to roll right out of the box.

Either way, it’s a confusing bit of marketing for HSBC. Unless there is some vast untapped market for questionable parents with confused priorities, I can’t imagine this is very effective. At the very least it requires further explanation, which good commercials should never need.

In conclusion: that woman is probably a whore.


  1. My sister and I had this exact debate the other night. I’m trying to give the woman the benefit of the doubt and assume the three months meant the first three months of her pregnancy. Hopefully. Maybe. She’s still probably a whore.

  2. Thanks for this post, because my wife and I both hate this commercial and I was starting to think we were the only ones that noticed. We’re season ticket holders and it’s played at the arena during seemingly every intermission, so we’re subjected to it a lot. We’re also parents of a little girl who turns two in less than a month, so I also feel qualified to say this woman is in fact a terrible human being. That is not the sort of sentiment that should ever cross a parent’s mind, and the advertising genius who thought that line would make good commercial fodder should consider a career change, such as becoming a crash test dummy.

    Having said that, your caption is a mighty fine piece of work there.

  3. Jon

    “In conclusion: that woman is probably a whore.”

    Remember when we thought we were going to be a family-friendly blog? We were joking ourselves.

  4. I hate that lady. They play this commercial where I work as well so I see it all the time. Every time I hear her voice say, “I didn’t want to be a mom…” I want to punch someone.

    And no commercial will ever be able to live up to the masterpiece that is the Labatt Blue fish.

  5. While it is an odd choice for a commercial, if you’re looking for a real explanation, I’m assuming she probably suffered from postpartum depression which is not uncommon at all. One of the possible symptoms of PPD is negative feelings toward the baby. And it is an unfortunate fact of life that not all pregnancies happen in the best of circumstances – the woman in the ad states she didn’t want to be a mother – and that can certainly affect a woman’s feelings toward the child both during pregnancy and after. I’ve seen that many, many times in my line of work so I’m mostly just glad this mother came around because some never do. But I suspect that’s a far more serious answer than you were really looking for so I’ll stop talking. 😛

    Personally, I’m more offended by the guy who wants his kid to be president. Come on, who would wish THAT job on their own flesh and blood?

  6. And again, for the record, while I think there’s a perfectly good and understandable reason for a woman to express that emotion, it is a VERY odd choice for a commercial.

  7. Also for the record, I do realize this woman is just an actor. I got carried away.

    Mark is chiming in from the other room, “HSBC sucks anyway! Bank with M&T!”

  8. (He works for M&T.)

    (Annnnnnnnd now I’m done.)

  9. PKB

    “it’s supposed to be ready to roll right out of the box.”

    Pun intended?

  10. man i hate that commercial because of that woman. i always assume she meant 3 months after birth but ehh. if that is so, then that kid is gonna have an insecure attachment.

    yay studying for my psych final and commenting at the same time!

  11. SueInVA

    Big secret — > Not all woman want to be mothers! I know, it’s shocking, but it is true. Some take a bit of time to adjust. Hey, I know a lot of guys who don’t want to be dads and never adjusted. Seems to me they should get fixed but they don’t! I’m going to take the “whore” comment as an attempt to be funny.

    I like this commercial. I even respond to the guy who says “the world doesn’t need me to reproduce” with a “you got that right!”.

    My biggest problem with the commercial is that I was reading your post and I was –“Oh yeah. It’s a bank commercial” cause that somehow doesn’t stick with me.

    Anyway, just my two cents!

  12. Jeanne

    At first I thought that was a bizarre thing for that woman to say. Then I thought along Heather B.’s line – PPD. Then I thought, well if she didn’t even want the baby in the first place, thank goodness she didn’t have an abortion. THEN I thought I spent way to much time thinking about a damn bank commercial. I need a life, which apparently (at least in Nov.), I only seem to have on Wed, Fri, and Sat. evenings. GO SABRES!

  13. I actually find that woman kind of refreshing. I think lots of women struggle when they are flooded with hormones, and suddenly in charge of a squawking, pooping, pissed-off infant. In fact, many new mothers might find the sentiment, “It took me three months to love him, but now I can’t imagine my life without him,” to be almost hopeful.

    So, while I agree, the commercial is weird (but HSBC is always weird- remember the one from last year where the woman got arrested protesting her boyfriend’s logging company?), I don’t think that baby will necessarily need therapy.

  14. PKB

    Actually, the ladies are correct. People often misunderstand this type of behavior by some mothers as a reflection on the type of person she is. Believe it or not I do have some authority, however limited, on the subject. Let me drop some knowledge.

    PPD is a mother’s reaction to her realization (typically after birth) of a depreciated social position. Basically, for some new mothers, her instincts as a human recognize this as a period in her life where it is not in her best interest to be raising a child. Babies complicate things, obviously, and often their timing is such that it puts a strain on the mother’s relationships (potential and current), career goals, etc.

    Eventually though, a stable mother that births the child, rationalizes and grows into her status as a mother. Mothers that never truly love their child are dealing with totally different emotional issues that have nothing to do with any of this. PPD is brought about by the circumstances surrounding the birth of the child not the emotional stability of the mother.

    Evolutionary biologist were the first to support this idea, as it relates to the evolutionary instincts that are inherently in everyone, albeit in differing degrees. With women’s role and responsibilities in society growing exponentially the last 50 years, the frequency with which this condition is seen has similarly increased. That’s why it has only recently been recognized by the health care community and so few people know about it. Bottom line: PPD is quite natural, totally treatable, and those that suffer from it are certainly not horrible people.