Don’t Call Him Mom, or an Imbecile — dads want ads that don't make them look stupid

March 19 2013 | offbeatbride
The Dad 2.0 Summit -- photo via The New York Times.
The Dad 2.0 Summit — photo via The New York Times.
The Dad 2.0 Summit was recently held in Houston, TX, and a large portion of the event focused on the relationship between advertisers and dads — or the lack thereof. Fathers are staying at home in increasing numbers, and according to this NY Times piece, many of them are tired of being treated by advertisers as if they're not up to task:

In the past, consumer-product marketers weren't all that concerned with what fathers thought — women, after all, make the majority of purchasing decisions for households. But men are catching up: In 2012 men spent an average of $36.26 at the grocery store per trip, compared with $27.49 in 2004, according to data from Nielsen. Companies see an opportunity to reach a new demographic.

The bloggers, for their part, are using their influence to change the way marketers portray them. "The payoff is huge if you get dads right," says Jim Lin, vice president and digital strategist at Ketchum Public Relations in San Francisco, a blogger at The Busy Dad Blog and a father of two.

To put it another way, while the mom space is crowded with players, the dad space has room for more. So there is big money to be made, both by companies looking at fathers as consumers and by daddy bloggers looking to ride a wave of brand sponsorship just as mommy bloggers have.

I'm reminded of this video:

Anyway, you can read the rest of the New York Times article right here — and you might also be interested in reading this post on Offbeat Families: It's a Mommy's world — exposing Dadscrimination.

  1. This is something my husband and I talk about a lot; the way that advertisers, the media and even to an extent society in general discriminates against men in the capacity of child care-givers. A "good" father is usually portrayed as being the man that makes time to throw a ball around with his kids… but where is the father changing diapers and putting up pigtails?
    .
    I'm offended by the "so easy even a DAD could do it!" advertising strategy. It doesn't appeal to me as a mother, I don't think "oh, yes! Men are all bumbling fools and my magical XX chromosome powers make me better at wiping a shitty arse! Oh, ho ho!"
    I think "wait… did you just slag off my husband? Fuck you and fuck your diapers, too."

    It all ties in to feminism, and how societal issues that affect women also effect men, too.
    If a woman's place is in the home, then that must mean that the father's place is out of it. It discriminates against everyone, just in different ways, and it sucks.

    I'm glad people are talking about this, and drawing attention to it, because it's about time the INVOLVED fathers got as much props and representation as the mothers.

  2. My husband stayed at home with our son for the first year. In SO many ways he was a better full-time caregiver than me! I think that ads need to reflect that reality.

  3. This! I find it so sad when I am with a husband or father who has bought into this mentality. I clench my teeth when I hear a man praise his wife by exclaiming that he would be helpless without her, because he could never make dinner / do laundry / care for a baby.

    It's a worthy thing to be a homemaker. However, insisting that only women can competently cook/clean/parent is insisting that women have to do so, that men don't have any obligation to help, and that moms are abandoning their families if they leave any housework to dads. Seriously, three cheers for the active husbands and dads!

    • " I clench my teeth when I hear a man praise his wife by exclaiming that he would be helpless without her, because he could never make dinner / do laundry / care for a baby."

      This may be less about her being a woman and more about the roles they have chosen. I often joke about my husband not being able to leave me because he would starve. And then actively threaten anyone who offers to teach him to cook. I can't fix my computer, he can't make a balanced dinner. Since we started dating when we were sixteen (and officially living together at 21 – straight out of the dorm for him) there are certain skill sets we each never bothered to pick up because the other had it covered.

      So … I get equally annoyed by the advertising that shows dads and husbands as incompetent and cleaning or cooking or dressing a child, even though my husband kind of is that guy. Because he isn't that guy because he's a dad; he's that guy because somewhere along the line we chose that. Other families are making other choices and I wish that was reflected. Where is the super busy working mom spilling things everywhere in her rush to get out the door and superhero dad coming in with the extra strong papertowels? Because that family exists, too, yo!

  4. I am an equalist. My husband is about to become a stay at home dad. I expect him to preform his new job in the same capacity that I would do it.

    I don't believe that stay at home dads should get more praise than a stay at home mom does. It is super hard work, it is a job. It is one of the most important aspects of any family (the stay at home position).

    I really hope that there is more equality with how stay at home dads are treated by the media, advertizing agencies, and society.

    I am blessed that our family will have a stay at home parent. Even more lucky that my husband is excited to do it. 🙂

  5. The other side of this coin is when fathers are given so much credit for being involved when this is what they should be doing. My husband gets this all the time when he and my son are at the zoo/park/store – "you're such a good dad!" – and finds it equally annoying. No one would say that to a mom under the same circumstances!

  6. I get really angry at how all the householder ads we see here where the "whole" family is involved it shows a mother and a couple of kids. Where is the dad?? Where?
    Cleaning products, breakfast cereals…
    Grrr. My brother is a solo dad, who does a great job, and he is completely not represented in household related advertising.

  7. My husband and I both work full-time, but when it comes to the household work he's much more of a homemaker than I am. He likes cooking and he's far more particular about how the laundry is done than I am, so he's always done those chores. And I don't think I've gone grocery shopping once since we first moved in together, although that may have more to do with the fact that he works at the grocery store. (I do all the yardwork though, since he can't tell a dandelion from a daffodil.) I never intended to make the house his responsibility, we just both gravitated to the jobs that we liked best or were good at, and that's how it worked out. When it came to parenting, it's been more of the same thing. He takes our daughter to her music class because his days off are in the middle of the week. I read her more books, because I like reading aloud and have more patience than him with reading the same story five times in a row. We both changed diapers. The only thing we couldn't share was breastfeeding, so in a way I think he was really happy when I went back to work and he started getting to bottle feed. It really bothers me when I see all the media portrayals of clueless or uninvolved fathers, because it is so contrary to everything I have experienced.

    I think about this also in relation to making moms feel bad for breastfeeding in public, or when we take our daughter out on the bus or to a restaurant and get dirty looks for just having a child in public, even when she's being well-behaved. I feel like our society doesn't really see parenting as a valid activity, and especially so when it's a man doing it. I think just more respect for the hard work of raising a child would help both moms and dads in feeling accepted and supported.

  8. A couple of days ago, I filled out some paperwork to put my husband's school loans into deferment while he is off school for now. One of the choices was 'working mother with a preschool age child'. I was very upset that a 'working father' wouldn't have gotten the same option. This attitude is more prevalent that just in advertising. It's part of our culture that needs to be addressed.

  9. I grew up in a home where initially my dad was the bread-winner, but around first grade my mom got a break in her writing career and then suddenly it was my dad being the stay-at-home with six kids. My dad's always been the better cook, so to me it's normal for the dad to be in the kitchen. Mom was more of the scraping paint type, so she did a lot of the house maintenance. Both did cleaning.
    Meanwhile, I married a guy who comes from a house where the mom did ALL of the cooking and cleaning, while the boys (there were no daughters) did outside things. It drives me crazy when I go over there for Thanksgiving dinner, and the men all go to the living room to watch the game while the womenfolk do the cleaning up. My husband and I have it fairly well established that one person cooks and the other does the dishes….but there are still times when I have to restrain myself from doing the three-day-old dishes that are his turn to do (I will not give in, I will not give in, I will not give in). I have also mostly gotten to the stage where he'll at least wait for the cook (me) to sit down before digging in.

    • My husband and I have the same arrangement of dinner/dishes. I HATERAGEGRR cooking in a messy kitchen, so it needs to be tidy when I start making dinner. Dishes can be in the dishwasher, but they must be off the bench and the bench wiped down.

  10. There was an ad for some cereal or other in the UK recently that was going on about people having a 'hard day' and needing this cereal to start the day and it was about dad's day and then the kid's day. No mention at all of mum, who is working away in the background serving breakfast and then doing the 'boys will be boys' face. Ugh.

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