Super Bowl Dads

Sure, there’s a “Big Game” on, but a lot of people just watch the Super Bowl for the commercials. And as I recently mentioned, Toyota, Nissan and Dove Men+Care have crafted spots about fathers. But why?

You might think – why fathers? Why now? But brands and agencies are keen to one simple fact: dad is a consumer.

One of the key factors in understanding why brands are talking more to fathers is understanding that fathers are, increasingly, caretakers of children. In dual-parent households, the roles of parents has been changing. More mothers are at work while more fathers are finding flexibility in their schedules to either partially or completely work from home, and some fathers are simply taking pay cuts to be with family.

2012 Pew Research study found that 48% of working fathers in the United States wanted to be home more with their kids. It’s a global phenomenon: across the pond, the Office for National Statistics in England found that there are almost a million men in Britain choosing to take part-time work so they can be home with their children more, and more than two-thirds of fathers under 35 take their kids to and from school.

In that 2012 Pew Research study, fathers were asked about the amount of time they spend with their kids and 46% said that they spend more time with their kids now than their parents spent with them. So while last generation’s football commercials spoke to a dad who couldn’t wait to leave work and hang out with his friends at a bar, they’re now speaking to a dad who is willing to take a pay cut to work from home so he can spend more time with his kids.

Letting dad have some paternity leave and personal/sick days pays off; dads that spend more time with their kids feel a greater satisfaction at their job and are less likely to leave their company, said a 2014 study found in the Academy of Management.

Meanwhile, single father households are a growing demographic. In 2013, Pew Research said that the number of single father households in the United States jumped ninefold since 1960. Now, they’re only talking about 8% of total households, but that’s still 2.6 million households (as of 2011). The single father household is a growing demographic. In 1960, 14% of single parent households were headed by a father. Now, the stat is 24%.

So with all of these statistics, it’s no wonder why advertisers are willing to put down big bucks to show dads in their commercials; fathers are consumers. Dads buy cars. Dads buy shampoo. They buy food (and not just frozen pizzas), appliances, home improvement supplies.

Last year, we saw at least six commercials featuring fathers during Super Bowl XLVIII. This year, those three big advertisers – Toyota, Nissan and Dove Men+Care – came out of the gates aiming at fathers. Will there be more during the game? Definitely.

Sure, we’ll still see a lot of breasts, beer and burgers in Super Bowl commercials, but by and large, fathers are emerging as a justifiably bankable demographic, and that’s cause enough for dads everywhere to do an end zone dance.