January 12, 2005

Dad Ads: They're Really For The Ladies

Ads with bumbling dads in them have gotten under the toupees of more than a few at-home dads out there, but according to Fox News, gee, you're being kinda sensitive about it, dude, and besides, those ads aren't meant for you, anyway.

The increasingly frequent portrayals of dads in ads--both dope and dopey--is not a way for marketers to reach enlightened men, it's a way to connect with women:

JCPenney's Lyons agreed, saying his company's "When will your mother be home?" commercial [which prompted angry letters about stereotyping from fatherhood organizations] was meant to be light and funny and was aimed primarily at women, since about 80 percent of the department store's purchases are made by female buyers.

"It's something men and women can relate to," Lyons said of the ad. "Dad is home taking care of the kids. He may express frustration, but it's done in a lighthearted way. As a father, I could see a little of myself in that spot, taking care of small kids when my wife is away. It's challenging, but you deal with it. When I first saw that spot, I laughed."

Other dad's-in-charge commercials have similar strategies in mind, with the modern and presumably more domestic father as a secondary audience and the lady (and primary purchaser) of the house as the main target. After all, women tend to find men with babies sexy.

"What we're trying to do is appeal to women, that 25-plus audience, [and show] it's safe to leave them on their own," Johnston said. "They might have a few problems but Dad can handle it, and if he's got a Stainmaster carpet in the house, he has a little extra help."

See? Marketers agree that their own commercials aren't perpetuating negative stereotypes. So ladies, you go right ahead and shop your pretty little heads off: it IS what you do best, after all... Oh, and get me a beer.

Dads In Charge in New TV Ads [foxnews, thanks to DT reader Stephanie]


The whole of sitcom television, with few deviations is set up like that. God help you if you aren't a moron who is unable to cope with the kids, can't change a diaper without power tools or generally deal, because there are no role models for you.

In fact, isn't there a subtle under current of "Dads who can deal are somehow less manly"? Or am I really being oversensitive?

I'd agree Cameron - the vast majority of father figures of small children in sitcoms are typically only there to bumble about and get things wrong, and reinforce the mother as the one who can handle the kids.

I think it's true that the "Dads who can deal are somehow less manly" aspect is conveyed in many shows, with the gruff types lounging about and drinking beer refusing to go near a nappy/diaper being the masculine ones. But there's also a position of fatherly responsibility that gets portrayed in many movies and shows. The Godfather springs to mind - "A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man."

As a writer of one of the angry letters, I HATE that whole BS about men being stupid bumbling inept caregivers. Just about as much as being portrayed as a shopaholic freakish supermom.

I actually agree though that men taking care of babies/children is sexy!

Not to get all hardcore political, but that's the joy of sexism. It cuts both ways and serves to limit the ways we can interact with our kids and the world around us.

As much of a huge Simpsons fan I am, I agree that the father figures represented on American network TV are pretty sad. But then again, what exactly is there on network TV these days that's worth watching? (other than The Simpsons, of course) I am a fan of some of the cable shows, but even then, I suppose that Doug and his gang of buddies on "Mind of The Married Man" aren't exactly a sterling example of good husbands/fathers... :)

I read an article somewhere expounding on this, and they mentioned the only intelligent father figure on any sitcom was Bernie Mac on his self titled show, and even then, his character is the uncle of the kids, not their father... I guess the only solution is to stop watching TV, which might not be a bad idea.

My husband is a wonderful father not only does he make bottles, change baby BOBO, put baby (Jameel) to sleep and play with him. My Husband (Tomas) spends his whole day with our son who is only 8 months. I must say that I feel that he is better at the baby thing then I am.

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