The New Age of (D)advertising

The Company
30 August 2019

Historically speaking, ads often portray and cater to dads within one of two categories: the bumbling buffoon or the hypermasculine macho guy.

But these days, more men are tuning into their responsibilities as fathers and shouldering more household duties than their past counterparts – and businesses need to take note of the fact.

The stereotype of mums being the neck that makes the head turn is as outdated as any gender stereotype. 74% of millennial dads think brands are ‘out of touch with modern family dynamics.’ A large percentage also say that the role of fatherhood is a vital part of their identity.

Studies have shown that when men take on the mantle of Dad, they adjust their buying habits accordingly. New fathers choose brands that they deem reliable and trustworthy for their first bundle of joy, and more dads are taking to YouTube to research and learn about parenting topics.

Embracing fatherhood in campaigns

Fathers through the years have come to be known for their groan-worthy delivery of what is now affectionately known as ‘dad jokes’. It’s become a genre in its own right, and humour is one of the ways brands can market fatherhood. But rather than making dads the butt of the joke, let them in on it instead.

An ad campaign like #DadJokesRule by Ad Council is a great example. It showcased the cringeworthy jokes dads tell their kids, but remained lighthearted and warm enough that the little ones cracked up when retelling their dad’s jokes. Puns are viewed by some as the lowest form of humour, but when they’re associated with dear old Dad, allowances can be made.

It’s certainly a benefit to have dads serve as comedic relief, but they do exist for more than just that. Brands can succeed from showcasing the softer side of dads. Advertising often highlights the ideals of toxic masculinity when marketing to men, but acknowledging their capacity for emotions is vital when delivering your message.

Dove Men+Care’s #DearFutureDad campaign celebrated the inner world of fatherhood. The ad interviewed several fathers with messages for future dads and emphasised the importance of a father’s presence in their children’s lives. The campaign championed paternity leave worldwide, while showing the softer side of fathers and their love for their children.

Some brands, however, fail to hit the mark. For Father’s Day, Snickers tweeted a flavour board of archetypal things that dads are known for — ties, barbecue gear, and a baseball mitt, among them — accompanied by a Snickers bar in the middle. At a glance, there’s nothing decisively ‘fatherly’ about the image or the message. Where Snickers failed is in delivering a meaningful message.

Real dads, real marketing

In marketing, mums had it hard because brands only ever saw them as mums. With dads, it’s the exact opposite.

But since dads are now making a conscious effort to change the way they approach fatherhood, brands should too.

The secret to ‘dadvertising’ is all about roles — acknowledging the fact that dad knows just as much as mum does.

Just don’t let mum hear you say that.

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