We’ve been doing a fair amount of talk here about “dadvertising” lately – that is – ads involving or aimed at fathers. But what if these dadvertisements weren’t for fathers, but rather featured fathers to get to mothers? This is the question that ModernMom blogger Liz Hawks kicks around to varying degrees of success. And thanks to my buddy Kat Gordon, Founder of Maternal Instinct for bringing this article to my attention.
First off, let me just get this out of the way: Damnit, Hawks – let us have something. We’re finally starting to see commercials with a positive portrayal of fathers, and you’re going to make me think that marketers and ad wizards are just trying to get to you?!
Actually, I agree with Liz Hawks. Some commercials that portray fathers really are targeting mothers. Take the recent Tide “Dad Mom” commercial, for example. The commercial portrays a father, but in talking to the ad agency that did the commercial, we found that a woman, Laura Mulloy of Saatchi & Saatchi, wrote the commercial and, when asked about why the title had to be “Dad Mom” and not just “Dad,” she said “if we’re guilty of anything, it’s of objectifying this stay-at-home dad so that women can fantasize about marrying someone like him.”
So, clearly, the commercial was written for mothers. Not that it was entirely a bad commercial for dads either. Plenty of men in the blogosphere liked the commercial (as long as you watched the shorter version), and it drew men to the brand. We can only wonder if it called fathers – or mothers – to action.
Liz uses the Google Chrome “Dear Sophie” spot for her example, but I think Tide’s “Dad Mom” drives home Hawks’ point explicitly.
Hawks mentions the oft-quoted statistic that “moms are responsible for approximately 85% of household purchase decisions.” This has always been a hard statistic for me to verify – and at best, I’m only able to find figures from more than 3 years ago. I’d love for someone to set me straight on this with an updated number – because in my personal life, I’ve found a majority of my male friends making the consumer spending decisions for their families. I wonder if there’s a way to get a real, accurate number not based on a SLOP poll, because I’m betting that fathers now do more than 15% of consumer goods spending. That’s just a guess though. I also live in California, which I’m sure as a state is more progressive for changing gender roles than some other places in the country. Again, this is just my guess.
Hawks has a point, though – and it is to not assume that just because a father is in a commercial, it’s aimed at dads. And Hawks’ closing point is for marketers to not treat women so literally; that is, Hawks likes seeing commercials with positive fathers portrayed because it reminds her of her own husband. Fair enough. But just let us have a couple of positive-dad commercials for ourselves too, mmkay? If you’re convinced I only buy 15% of the household goods, let me have 15% of the commercials and I’ll be happy.