Father’s Day is around the corner and agencies are all geared up to woo the audience with everything Dad, but they need to be careful when portraying dads in the ads.
The reason: ads showing Dads as idiots are not going over very well these days.The evidence is the recent backlash to Huggies' "Dad Test" campaign.
The ad features a group of dads so consumed by sports on TV that they forget to change their kids’ diapers.
The commercial, despite its claim to celebrate fatherhood, led to a storm of online protests. Dads voiced their anger against what they called wrongful depiction of dads as deficient and indifferent caregivers through change.org.
A full-time at-home Pennsylvania dad, Chris Routly, led the anti-Huggies ad campaign with “We’re Dads, Huggies, Not Dummies” petition, receiving more than 1,000 signatures in less than a week. Other upset dads including blogger Jim Higley, who writes "The Bobblehead Dad," called upon Huggies to yank the ad. The Huggies Facebook page saw a firestorm of comments, prompting an apology by the company and withdrawal of the ad.
What does it mean for the brand?
With the current economy forcing many dads to stay at home, agencies should spot new opportunities to harness the changing roles of dads in order to expand their brands' appeal.
With dads playing an important role in modern parenting, the agencies should commit themselves to developing smart and positive portrayals of modern-day dads. Any attempt on their part to reinforce the stereotypical image of dads as uncaring, incompetent, and infantile no longer resonate well with the audience.
According to a recent report, there are now more than five million stay-at-home dads and millions more that play pivotal roles in their infants’ lives.
Recent research also found that, on average, 48% of dads share all responsibilities with their partners. In addition, a by Mintel reveals that 23% of the dads say the fact that they wanted to stay home with the children was an important factor when deciding whether their partner returned to work.
Modern-day dads are very different from the previous generation. A national survey has shown that dads are taking on more childcare and child-rearing stress. They are paying attention and have an opinion on the performance of products for kids just as much as moms do. Therefore, the spots that remind fathers how stupid they are will have to go through a makeover.
The agencies can no doubt poke a bit of fun or infuse elements of humor, but they need to steer clear from portraying dads as a "bunch of bumbling idiots."
Given the rising level of social media and public disgust toward anti-dad ads, it's clear that bashing dads is not a good way to sell products. The age of the idiot dad in advertising is coming to a close. Dads in ads can no longer be inexperienced imbeciles, but people who take full responsibility for raising the children and are devoted, dedicated, and dependable.
Anamika Pande Ved is a blogger, content curator, and content writer with Global Washington, a non-profit in Seattle, Washington. She is fascinated by commercials, more so if they are used for "social good." She is an avid traveler, reader, and a singer. Find her on Twitter here.