My wife hates watching TV with me because whenever I see a commercial depicting fathers in a negative light, I go off on the same rant. So, she hears this rant almost nightly.
But to be fair to the Madison Avenue crowd, there are certainly lots of commercials showing dads in a positive, or at least realistic, light (note: showing dads acting like childish idiots is not realistic, nor is it helpful). In fact, NFI has given the Fatherhood Award™ to several of these companies, including Google, Subaru, and many more.
In the spirit of being fair and balanced, here is one good and one bad example of current TV ads depicting dads.
As a baseball fan, former Little Leaguer (where my dad was my coach for several years), and high school player, I love this ad.
Some may argue that it is another ad showing a dad looking pretty dumb, but my problem is not so much with “dumbness,” but with ads that are not realistic. This one is. Not everyone can throw a baseball well. What matters is that this guy is so sincere, and he’s spending time with his son, one on one.
Most importantly, the ad does such a great job of telling a realistic and touching story. Look closely and you can see that the dad is still wearing his work clothes. He pulled into the driveway from work and his son was waiting for him in the front yard wanting to play catch. And he started playing with him right there – he didn’t even go inside to change his clothes! You can almost hear the kid saying, “Dad, dad! Let’s play catch!” And he, being the loving dad he is, dropped everything and started playing, despite his obvious lack of skills or comfortable clothes.
Humor, storytelling, and a positive message about fathers – this ad has it all. As opposed to this ad…
In contrast to the one above, this ad is not realistic. I do not know a single dad who would be this negligent and uncaring. Nor would a dad be “bought” so easily with the promise of food that was probably purchased with his own money. I also hate the recurring commercial theme of “if it weren’t for moms, American households would be bastions of chaos and permissiveness.” One could counter that the ad was “bending the truth” for a comical effect – but so was the above ad, and it was great and heartwarming and realistic. Again, note to commercial producers: you don’t have to make men and dads look like idiots in order to make funny ads. Frankly, I think it is lazy writers falling back on stereotypes who are making these kinds of commercials. The non-lazy ones are making gems like the VW ad above.
To be fair to Kraft, they are a sponsor of the upcoming Dad 2.0 Summit, so clearly they are trying to make a genuine effort to reach out to fathers. But with ads like this (and it is only one in a series of similarly bad ads), I don’t think they are going to have as much success as they’d like. To be sure, if they want to work with NFI, we would need to have a serious discussion about what they really think about fathers given the mocking nature of their ad campaign.
Have you seen any good fatherhood commercials lately? How about bad ones? Let us know.
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Last month at Pampers Cincinnati, OH headquarters, NFI president Roland C. Warren presented the big baby care brand with a Fatherhood Award™ for its “A Parent is Born,” “Welcome to Parenthood,” and “Love Comes Early” video series.
If you haven’t seen these online mini-documentaries, check them out as a Father’s Day treat. They really do an incredible job of showing how important it is for fathers to be involved in the “peri-natal period” (the time right before and after the birth of a child).
Pampers is a rare breed in the baby care world in that they are one of a few brands that understands the role dads can and should play in this area. Sure, moms still buy more diapers than dads do, but according to all the research we’ve done and seen, moms are more likely to support brands that support fathers. Moms don’t want brands letting dads off the hook.
To celebrate and commemorate the Fatherhood Award™ recognition, Pampers is unveiling new rewards in its “Pampers Gifts to Grow” catalog that are very dad-centric - BBQ tool sets, professional-caliber golf balls, stainless steel water bottle gift sets, and headphones, to name a few.
This quote from Fama Francisco, Pampers General Manager perfectly sums up Pampers enlightened understanding of this issue: "Pampers recognizes that today’s fathers want to be involved in the very important role of nurturing their babies and acknowledges that it is just as important for dad – as it is for mom - to bond with baby too. With all the attention on expectant and new moms, the role of an expectant or new father can sometimes be overshadowed. That's why this Fatherhood Award™ honor is a special thrill. Whether it's been via our web-based real parenting video series or our past partnerships with the likes of great dads, Pampers is committed to honoring and celebrating dads for the unique role they play in their babies lives!”
We love this! Especially the part about the “unique role” that dads play. Again, research shows that the different approaches that moms and dads take to child care have a significant, positive impact on child well being.
We thank Pampers for their dedication to fatherhood, and commend them for doing work that will last far beyond this Father’s Day.
I have to take a deep breath when I write blog posts like this.
While more and more advertisers are starting to realize that dads are competent parents that make or share in family purchasing decisions, there are still far too many stragglers that continue to play the dads are dumb line over and over again.
Huggies, the huge diaper brand, is one of the worst offenders. Their most recent ad campaign may take the cake for advertising that is condescending to dads and out of touch with reality. Watch the ad here
The imagery in the ad is great dads taking care of their babies. We need to see more of that. But its the voice over and premise of the ad where the problem is: To prove Huggies diapers can handle anything, we put them to the ultimate test: dads
alone with their babies
What this reminds me of are the Geico commercials with the caveman. Remember those: So easy a caveman can do it. These Huggies ads send the same message: our diapers are so easy to use that even a dad cant mess this up.
Congrats, dads! You are in the same camp as cavemen! The problem of course is that cavemen dont exist anymore, but dads do!
Compare the Huggies ads to ones where products have to pass the mom test and you will find that those are handled in the opposite way. To pass the mom test, a product has to prove that it lives up to the high standards that moms demand. Like the old Kix cereal commerial, whose tagline was, Kid tested, mom approved. But the Huggies ads take the opposite tack; the product has to be tested by dads so that it survives the low standards that dads set.
If you are not yet convinced that these ads send a terrible message about fatherhood, or that these ads are harmless and mean to be funny, think of it another way. There is a stereotype out there that women are worse drivers than men. So imagine a car commercial that says, We are putting our new car to the ultimate test giving it to a woman for 5 days to see if it survives! The outcry would be justifiably enormous
I have to wonder who in the heck Huggies is testing these messages on or what research they are looking at that shows that these sorts of insulting messages to dads are still acceptable. The reality is that dads are changing diapers, caring for babies, and being involved dads. And where they are not, we need to be encouraging them to do so because it is what kids and families need.
Huggies ad plays to old stereotypes and ultimately discourages involved fatherhood by playing up the idea that dads just arent as good at parenting as moms are. At a minimum, I imagine this ad is discouraging dads from buying Huggies there appears to be quite an uproar about it online.
What do you think of the commercial? Click here to view it and make a statement
. If Huggies is in fact committing a violation here, they need to hear from you so that things can change for the better.