News & Politics

NBC News Slams Dolly Parton's Super Bowl Ad About Entrepreneurship

(Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Dolly Parton is a national treasure. Period. Full stop. Born the fourth of twelve children to a sharecropper and his wife in a one-room cabin in Pittman Center, Tennessee, she is now an international legend. Her success goes far beyond the music industry. She is also a renowned actress, businesswoman, and philanthropist whose generosity has touched tens of thousands of children. Yet Kim Kelly from NBC News Think was disappointed with the Super Bowl ad Parton did for Squarespace because it promoted the hard work and long hours.

According to Parton’s memoir My Life and Other Unfinished Business, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee, the day after she graduated from high school. She had been singing on local radio as a teen, recorded on a small label, and appeared at the Grand Ole Opry. So she decided to go big time and chase her dream. Dolly started as a songwriter, penning hits for other artists, and fighting to sing country music rather than pop. Her label finally relented, and the rest is history.

Kelly gives a nod to Parton’s accomplishments and acknowledges her philanthropy but she accuses Parton of playing a “rich man’s game” in the NBC News headline.

The ad features a play on Parton’s hit song “9 to 5” from the movie she also starred in. She croons “5 to 9” in an ad for Squarespace, which features office employees moving to start their own businesses on the website builder. The message is clear, it may be a lot of work, but you can launch your own business if you are willing to put in the hours.

Somehow Kelly confuses this message with promoting the gig economy and calls Parton’s participation in the ad a “rare miscalculation”:

Now, Parton’s silvery voice is being used to promote the false virtues of working overtime, when so many gig economy workers are barely scraping by.

That is not the message at all. Perhaps Kelly doesn’t know what Squarespace does. Maybe she missed the individual talents the office workers displayed in the ad and the website the primary character was building. It was her own, not someone else’s. The ad showed everything from a dance fitness program to a landscape artist and chef, featuring products from each of the employees meant to reflect their passion. Just listen to the words:

Working 5 to 9, you’ve got passion and a vision.

Cause it’s hustling time, a whole new way to make a living

Gonna change your life and do something that gives it meaning

With a website that is worthy of your dreaming

Those are not words to encourage you to sign up to be an Uber driver. Of course, there is also nothing wrong with that. Many people use gig jobs to cover a period of unemployment or augment their income for a specific goal. Because they are flexible, gig jobs are also an excellent option for college students to reduce the size of the loans they need. And the last time I was in Nashville, many of my Uber drivers were pursuing their dream of being a professional musician.

The Left’s obsession with the gig economy does not reflect the view of most Americans. California passed Assembly Bill 5, a law intended to force companies like Uber and Door Dash to hire their drivers as full-time employees. It also severely limited the freedom to work as a freelance employee or independent contractor. The backlash was so severe that the assembly had to make several revisions to the law. In November, California voters, some of the most progressive in the nation, voted the gut the law. The gig economy is here to stay.

Parton explained precisely what the ad was saying in an interview on Today With Hoda & Jenna. Kelly even inserted the interview into her piece. She must not have listened to it. Not only did Parton explicitly say the ad was about starting your own business, but she also added that it featured her new perfume on the cover of the magazine in the beauty shop scene. That sort of makes Dolly the best spokesperson for an ad like this. She’s still working 5 to 9.

To recover from this pandemic, we will need more people, not fewer, who are willing to work “5 to 9” plus weekends to pursue a vision. Small businesses are the engine of the American economy, and we need to build them back. Perhaps a fitness instructor like the one in the video will be so successful she has to open a studio and hire additional instructors. That is America. And Miss Dolly Parton did not make a “grave mistake” by playing a role in an ad that encourages people to pursue their American Dream.

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