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Dad Ads in a Changing Environment
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Ah yes, the constant battle of the sexes: moms vs. dads. In the past, dads have been looked at solely as the breadwinner and the "fun parent." In countless creative spots, the dad has looked helpless, childlike, and pretty much pathetic when it came to housework or childrearing, and it took the touch of a lady to clean up the situation.

But times have changed.

Now, women are the majority gender. There are more women in college than ever before, and in many majors, the women outnumber the men. It's true that during the recovery from the financial crisis, women have lost more jobs than men, but during the Great Recession men fell out of the workplace in staggering numbers. No longer could millions of men rely on an occupation to identify themselves. No longer could many switch job stories with colleagues or even their significant others. Many men fell out of the breadwinning seat while their female counterparts took the wheel. Let's be clear; that is not a bad thing. Men are simply finding themselves in a different position.

In one of our first posts, we wrote about the disappearance of the Moronic Man. Finally, it's starting to catch on. Janice D'Arcy of the Washington Post recently wrote a piece about the balancing act AdFolks are doing between the super dad and the bumbling dad. She sees the changes in advertising, and though it seems brands want to get dad's attention by calling him awesome, they don't want to leave out ol' mom either.

Why can't Dad just be Dad?

D'Arcy is right in the sense that AdLand's portrayal of the clueless father has run its course. But just because no one is calling him stupid doesn't mean he has to be super-sensitive, mom-tastic Dad either. We don't see this as a balancing act; AdLand isn't quite sure what the right message is yet. It's our human nature to want a winner in the battle of the sexes, but real life indicates that competency trumps competition when it comes to raising a family.

But we guess we need something to write about.

Don't let this post sound like we're going against D'Arcy's post; we're actually in full agreement. The point we want to make clear is that the role of Dad has changed. If more men are home because of losing work, many more are home because they are working from home. The fact that Dad is more immersed in everyday life and is contributing more and more to what is purchased in the house is information that AdLand isn't quite sure how to deal with.

At the end of the article, D'Arcy asks what the ideal parenting ad reflects.

That's a good question.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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