Who The Flip Is Dad 2.0?
Fatherhood is a scary thing. Combine that with the onslaught of an average mid-life crisis, then life as a Dad in 2016 is a pretty daunting task.
We're a generation raised by Dad 1.0. Our role models were hard-grafting providers who did little of the actual day to day hands-on childcare. They splashed on the Brut, dished out the discipline and ruled over the remote control of a three-channel world with a rod of iron.
Now in 2016, as Dad 2.0, we're not only expected to but are proud to do more than our fair share of bum and tear-wiping because being a dad is quite possibly the best job in the world. We're the Grange Hill generation that came of age while raving and Britpoppin' in the 90s. Imagine the date when New Lad became New Dad, and you will be halfway there.
Now as responsible child-rearing grown-ups with careers and mortgages, we expect more out of family life and we want to look good and have fun while we are doing it.
Unfortunately, the marketing world has yet to catch up with the reality of modern parenting. In advertising, dad is still the hapless sap who simply can't get anything right. He burns any foodstuff that dares venture close to the oven, stares blankly at the mere mention of putting the washing on as if he had never visited his own utility room and returns from the supermarket with 15 pomegranates and a party pack of Twiglets when he was supposed to have hunter-gathered the Christmas dinner. That is, of course, when he is not encamped on his sofa, lounging in a cloud of his flatulence and barking orders at his put-upon spouse.
When major food companies like Heinz release a line of baby foods with slogans emblazoned on the side declaring the product is "inspired by a recipe from Sophie, a mum just like you",t hey instantly dismiss the possibility that dads can take an active part in feeding their children. They then feel the wrath.
Image courtesy of Sudocrem Ireland Facebook page
The concept of women being the decision makers, the shoppers, the child carers may once have held water, but the tide is turning, and marketing types need to realise that. If we feel you don't take us seriously, we will not take you seriously. Consumers always have a choice and those brands that dismiss dads risk being left behind.
Amazon had to perform a volte-face in the US when, for some unknown reason, it decided to brand the discount scheme called Amazon Family around the world as Amazon Mom in its home market. A petition started by Kansas-based stay-at-home dad Jeffrey Harrington was supported by the Dad Bloggers Facebook group and topped 13,000 signatures before the online giant quietly changed the name to finally recognise the contribution of dads, grandparents and other guardians.
Asda's line of foods "chosen by kids - approved by mums" showed the contempt in which dads' opinions are held by the supermarket. Coppertone's children's suntan lotions were marketed in the US on the basis that the protection they offered against harmful rays made it "easy for moms to love".
The implication here is that it is the mother's responsibility to ensure a child eats well and stays out of danger. What dad is up to while these decisions are being taken never fully explained, but presumably he's about to be distracted while bodging a long-standing DIY job, falling off his ladder as he lusts after a woman at least three leagues above his? The punchline will inevitably see his wife roll her eyes and a team of ad execs will high five, celebrating the fact that they have successfully recycled the plot of most 1970s sitcoms once again, and been paid handsomely for it.
So if you are a brand that wants to get in our hearts, minds, pants and ultimately our pockets, then help entertain, inform or educate us.
Don't patronise us, telling us how to change a nappy.
Don't tell us we babysit; we parent.
Don't snigger at the fact that you think we can't dance. Believe me; we can.
You've just been looking in the wrong places.
If you want to start looking in the right places, then we just might be the people you want to talk to.
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