I Can Do Dad All By Myself

As I promised in my post earlier this week, today I’m tackling the mom-centric ads being broadcast during the Olympics.

These particular ads are from Procter & Gamble, and they celebrate the role of moms in the lives of aspiring and actual Olympic athletes. A lot of dads out there are outraged or at least a little annoyed at the way the ads focus on moms to the exclusion of fathers. Procter & Gamble isn’t the first brand to ignore or insult dads in advertising and they won’t be the last, just as this is neither the first nor the last time the online community of fathers has gotten excited about what they feel is a total disregard for the role they play in their kids lives.

To which I say: who cares?

Here is some info about the campaign that sparked the latest round of protests from the online Dad community.

Here is one of the responses to it.parenting, advertising, dad bloggers, gender, sports, olympics, moms, equality, dad and buried, fatherhood, dads, lifestyle, children, family

I get it. I understand that it’s a little annoying for a good father’s role as a parent to be completely ignored. It’s not the ’50s anymore, when men went to work and women raised the kids. These days (I think it’s the ’90s or something by now but I can’t be sure – time stopped for me in college) things have changed. The odds are that either Mom or Dad even HAS a job are pretty slim. They’re most likely unemployed and living at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, doing their best to not kill each other, treading water until one of them finds a new job.

And yet despite all that, they’re both taking part in the parenting, and the old roles aren’t so easily defined anymore. That’s a good thing.

But – understandably – it’s taking some time to see this new paradigm, the new Millenium’s redefinition of parenting, represented in the media. When we do see it, it’s in the form of some insipid TV show or terrible movie. Advertising in particular seems to be running behind. And a lot of Dad bloggers are SICK OF IT! This strikes me as an extremely silly thing to be upset about.

Anyone looking to the advertising industry to lead the way in changing perceptions is looking in the wrong place. Most brands want to sell, and unless they’re blatantly going for attention, odds are they’re going to sell by focusing on the lowest common denominator; the easy stereotype; the safe play. And the safe play here is to market their products to moms.

Yes, Dads have a bigger role in parenting than they did in previous years (though I’m sure they are plenty of Dads from the ’90s, ’80s and ’70s who won’t take kindly to their role being discounted so generally), but we’re still a smaller piece of the pie. That’s just the way it is. The number of Stay At Home Dads has doubled since 2001…to make up 3.4% of all Stay At Home parents. (Obviously SAHDs aren’t the only dads who parent, I’m just sayin’.)

But again, the numbers aren’t the point. Many of my fellow dads feel slighted by advertising campaigns and the culture in general. I get it, but I think it’s silly. What do I care what Procter & Gamble thinks of my role as a parent? I don’t need their validation. So long as my son knows I’m there, and my wife gives me some goddamn credit for once, I’m all good. It just seems like a waste of time – like most of the Mommy Wars and Parenting Wars and etc. – to worry about that kind of stuff.

Sure, I guess it would be nice if P&G’s campaign about dads supporting their Olympian kids got more play – and one does exist – but whatever (I’ve already made my stance on my son’s Olympic dreams quite clear). The stereotype is that Mom takes care of the kids and Dad brings home the bacon, and even if in most homes it’s much more of a 50/50 split these days, the stereotype was pretty true for quite a while. And the last place we’re gonna see stereotypes end is in advertising.

It’s no skin off my back if you continue to write blog posts like this one, by the popular and respected Blogger Father, who led an uproar about Norelco’s “made for moms” advertising and actually effected some change. They got wind of his protest and changed it to “made for parents,” though they didn’t actually change much else in the language, which says the clippers are “made for women’s hands.” How rude. Not only do I clip their kids’ hair, my wife has enormous man-hands. So screw you, Norelco!Olympics, mama bush, parenting, dad and buried, stress, work, kids, children, ads, advertising, dad bloggers, moms, gender

Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world,” not “blog about the change you don’t see until Madison Avenue throws you a bone.” I’m glad Blogger Father actually got something done; I’m just not interested in joining the picket line.

I’m not gonna be the jerk that says something like: maybe you dads should spend less time railing against what advertisers think of you and more time parenting your kids, because that’s obnoxious and condescending and not what’s happening here. These are dedicated dads who are tired of getting short shrift in the good parent department. But if they merely keep up the good work, even if they don’t get the recognition they deserve, they can at least be secure in the fact that their kids will know that dads aren’t just window dressing, and they’ll grow up with a healthier perspective on the role of both parents in raising children.

But go ahead and keep writing your posts, I guess. I just won’t be reading them.

BECAUSE I’LL BE TOO BUSY RAISING MY SON. And also writing posts about why I hate him.

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46 thoughts on “I Can Do Dad All By Myself

  1. Fair enough, but let me explain myself here.

    Actually, my latest post talks about it a lot, so I’ll summarize it here, because who wants to click all the way here?

    The short version (which will probably end up longer than the post itself) is that although I’ve mentioned how much I hated the name “Amazon Mom,” I feel the CEO has put me in my place by donating $2.5M to save gay marriage in Washington state. But while I say I’m not going to complain about what is essentially a marketing decision (the “Amazon Mom” name) because straight men, even if they’re confused stay-at-home-dads, have an easier life than women, and much easier life than GLBT people. Amazon’s flawed marketing is their own, and I might mention it in the future, I’ll never consider Amazon the enemy of dads. The only enemy of dads are absent dads.

    Which is why I feel this is not simply a fight about names and bones tossed from skyscrapers.

    On the one hand, I don’t like the hypocrisy. I don’t like the fact that every concerned citizen from the President to social scientists tell us the biggest problem in society is that dads don’t step up, and at the same time, society (including media and other public-opinion shapers) conveniently ignore fatherhood because moms buy more and because they’re too lazy to understand this idea of non-stereotypical, involved fatherhood.

    And I believe that in the end, the image of dad as–at best–a helper when Mom is unavailable, is one of the factors convincing fathers that despite all the big speeches and studies, they’re not really vital. I believe changing the language as part of a larger language to destroy stereotypes, is needed if we want to change society.


    Don’t get me wrong. even if you read my comment and think I have a point, know that I don’t think everyone should agree with me or that anyone who disagrees is anti-the-good-cause. I publicly came out in defense of Huggies (and sometimes less publicly when it came to other brands, by not joining in other bloggers’ attacks). I try to pick on the offensive and the hypocritical (and Philips Norelco was both), but I’ve always maintained that the bottom line is that marketing shouldn’t be the highest thing on dads’ priorities list, and that as long as so many people are truly discriminated against in society, the situation of modern fatherhood shouldn’t be high on society’s priority list.

    Double phew.

  2. This time it feels different to me…it’s been enough time with enough coverage in ALL media that dads are part of the parenting equation. And, to top it off with a sort of dad-area – sports – and ignore us is just plain wrong (and foolish). I wrote my stance here: http://www.brucesallan.com/2012/08/01/pg-procter-gamble-ignore-dads-olympics-commercials/

    And, we’ll be discussing the more general topic of parents and their kid’s sports at #DadChat tomorrow at 6 pm PT…yeah, we’ll get in a hit or two at P&G…maybe they’ll wake up!?

  3. This is the post we would have written if we weren’t so sick of all the complaining in the first place. Thank you. We don’t think they’re “playing it safe” by marketing to moms. They probably have REAMS of research that shows that like 95% of their market are moms making the shopping choices, doing the shopping, buying the products so OF COURSE they market to moms. Saying they’re a Proud Sponsor of Moms DOESN’T mean they think dads suck. It’s an ad campaign. They advertise based on research and market. If we say we like burgers it doesn’t mean we think other foods aren’t helping feed us. Does every company have to do everything equally for all people? They also didn’t mention brothers or sisters who help out with the kids. Betcha brother and sister bloggers are going nuts right now too.

    We don’t even feel like this blogger OUTRAGE is genuine AT ALL, it’s just bloggers trying to get recognized and drive traffic to their site by attacking a major brand.

    1. An earlier draft of this post actually had a section on stats but I took it out because a) stats can reflect anything (in fact, many of the stats I found pointed to dads as making more purchase decisions and doing more of the shopping!) and b) it’s not about the advertisers.

      Of course they have their reasons, and their research. But whatever. They are advertisers! They are the least of our worries when it comes to raising our kids. You can’t cater to everyone all the time and if we hop on every perceived slight we’ll go insane!

      Thanks for stopping by!

    2. Hey Dadand, as a person who has been named and shamed on this post (the only one, actually, although I’ve never said a word about P&G. Some things bother me–this one didn’t), I wonder if you read my comment above and if you have anything to say about that, since I’m beginning to take it all personally.

  4. Thank you for writing this. There is so much angry Twitter buzz focused on P&G right now I was beginning to think I was the only one who didn’t care about these ads. Nice to see a few other supporters. I even wrote a post about how dads could take the first step if they want to see a change from advertisers.

  5. Brilliant sir! ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT!!! I could not agree more. I don’t need any validation other than from my kid and her mother, even then I just do what I do and hope it turns out well and don’t give a shit what anyone else has to say.

  6. …and now that you’ve been Freshly Pressed, perhaps your message will spread far and wide — and give daddy bloggers everywhere even more fodder for writing posts instead of parenting their children. Not you, of course…


    Interesting points here. I can definitely appreciate your perspective. Even though I’m not a dad. That I know of…

  7. Reblogged this on Notes From The Backseat and commented:
    Honestly, I’m annoyed with these ads and I’m a mother of two. I get what they are saying “Moms are emotionally more supportive. WTG mom, you made me believe I didn’t suck that day I fell when I was three!” BUT when you grow up with a mom who has only said she was proud of you three times in your life (high school graduation(2003), when my daughter was born(2006) and (summer 2011) when she met my 2 year old son for the first time), when you have a mom who’s less supportive than a ten year old bra, these ads are just a reminder of the things you didn’t have. The things moms are supposed to do. The things your mom flaked out on. AND IT SUCKS! So, Dads, you aren’t the only ones cheesed off by these ads, even if it’s for a different reason.

  8. Try saying motherhood ‘shouldn’t be high on society’s priority list and you’ll have the might of the sisterhood down on you like the proverbial june bug. I saw an advertisement once. Literally once before it was whisked off air. Some single mothers found it offensive that an inoffensive dad proclaimed inoffensively that ‘every child needs a dad.’ I’m sure that in other respects you can be dad all by yourself but it’s important to support those dads who can’t.

  9. When I was 8 ( I’m 38 now) my dad got sick and mom started to work. They changed roles. I remember how my dad made us breakfast, took us to school ( we were three kids, one boy and two girls) and how he managed to brush ur hair until he decided to cut off our long hair because he didn’t know how to make a pony tail. With a very short hair he felt safe hahahaha, he put us small flowers in our ears so we could look pretty…My dad was a GREAT mom and dad at the same time!!…He did an excellent job…the best snacks ever were made from him…My mom couldn’t have made it with out his help. Loved your post, Saludos desde Tijuana, Mexico!!


    PS. exactly, Dads get to kill the spiders and bees, and mice, and…aaaah I miss my dad!

  10. In the face of all these new comments and new readers (thanks WordPress!) I just wanted to make one thing clear:

    I HAVE NO PROBLEM with the intent of the dad bloggers that are writing about their annoyance with the lack of recognition dads get from major brands and advertisers and the media and pop culture, etc.

    I just don’t know how effective blogging about it is, and as a blogger and avid social media fan, I realize that I’m probably being a little naive in underestimating the power of negative publicity. But the way we’re portrayed in ads and in movies and etc. is a DROP IN THE BUCKET when it comes to the problems dads and parents and shouldn’t really be a major concern in the field of dad-hood.

    Be a dad, handle your business, and eventually the public and the media and Madison Avenue will catch up.

    The bottom line really is: I find the griping boring, so I don’t take part in it. Instead, I gripe about the griping. BECAUSE I’M THE BIGGER MAN.

    I mean, duh.

    1. The public and the media have no imagination. They aren’t ever going to catch up unless injustices are pointed out to them.
      While it’s true that blogs aren’t the only answer, They are as valid a way to put your opinions out there as any other. I remember there being only one women’s lobby group forty years ago, now there are countless groups around and pretty much every woman has become her own feminist.
      Name just one injustice in history that was righted by people quietly getting on with things and hoping somebody will notice and applaud (or catch up)

    2. Culture is definitely changing. It will change a whole lot faster when…well, there’s no nice way to say it really, but when this generation dies off. *smirk*

  11. P&G makes soap. That’s why they did a “mom” campaign. Women do the shopping and the laundry — that’s who P&G is trying to connect with. No need for involved dads to get bent out of shape. Really, who wants to be “acknowledged” my Madison Avenue (they’re not doing it out of the goodness of their calculating hearts).
    Love the take on Ghandi’s “being the change” vs blogging about the change you want to see. Great blog… I’m glad to discover it!

    1. That’s what people should also be getting wise to. I’m glad someone said this. The P&G ad isn’t about parenting. It’s yucky because it’s all about marketing to the people who statistically still mostly do the laundry and use the products that P&G manufacture. It’s about manipulating these people’s emotions into thinking the laundry has a higher purpose and that using P&G products will better serve that purpose! Women in general should also be annoyed if fathers are getting annoyed!

      It says a lot about how, round the world, the perception has changed very little, that women should by and large do the housework. They are making laundry nostalgic. The message I read from their campaign was, well done all the mums who stayed home to do the laundry for your children. They’re now Olympic heroes because of your sacrifice. Tough those of you that do it and your children are world-class failures and just turned out to be normal P&G consumers lol!

      It doesn’t affirm the fathers who stay at home or who do a perfect job of parenting. But in reality, it’s not affirming parenting at all. The ads are about affirming good usage of P&G products and encourage us to blubber and somehow associate our affections with the brand!

  12. If we’re looking for validation from advertisers for our roles in life, we’re screwed. We are all marginalized by advertising, because we are consumers, statistics, monolithic stereotypes and not individuals. And why are so many people still watching ads? I haven’t watched advertising on television in years.

  13. it shouldn’t be about either moms or dads being validated by advertisers or bloggers or anyone. the only validation or recognition any of us should want is what we see reflected in the eyes of our children. trust me, if you are present in their lives, there will be many olympic moments that will come back to you in a birthday card or a note or a phone call when you least expect it.

    great blog by the way.

  14. I thnk your commentary is spot on. Sterotypes don’t die easily. However, how many times do you watch a sporting contest and the athlete says hi mom and never mentions the dad. not all athletes come from single family homes. There is a certain bond between a mother and child – just as there is a particular bond between father and child. It’s not just about time spent. It is also about the different nature of the sex.I realize that I am generalizing.

    1. Agreed. Moms are there for comfort and support (obviously not ALL moms) and Dads are their to push and coach and be taskmasters (obviously not ALL dads).

      Moms and Dads are different, stereotypically sure, but also iconically, symbolically, realistically.Maybe that will change as gender roles blur and marriage is broadened (in a positive way) but for now, culturally, Moms represent different things than Dads do. Oh well.

      What’s next, protests about sailors not getting tattoos of hearts with “Dad” inked on them?

      1. Also, don’t forget when you see the Williams sisters, you see their dad in the bleachers, and the same goes for Tiger Woods. I would associate dads more with sports than moms.

        I grew up in the traditional setup with my Dad going to work and my Mom staying at home and looking after us. But I spent a lot of time in my Dad’s office as a kid, and he always answered any science or math questions I had when doing homework, and he was always the one who took me to the doctor. Now that I am much older, my Mom is the one I gossip with, and my Dad is my security blanket.

        No Dad needs a P&G ad to know how important he is in his kid’s life.

  15. I was in advertising for 25 years and what you say is all true. Don’t look to advertisers to lead the way. Especially P & G, whose products are mostly purchased by women. They’re not making a statement, they’re kisssing up . I have two sons in whose lives I was very much involved throughout my woking years. They are now 28 and 29 and I am nearing retirement. Their judgement of me is not based on advertisng, but of who I am/ was in their lives.

  16. So now everyone with a WordPress account thinks I’m respected? Joke’s on them!

    Let me just mention a few things. First, the Gandhi quote could be applied to anything we feel like ridiculing. (Really. Try it.) It sounds right, but essentially it’s an empty statement. I am the change I want to be, and I try to make that change using the tools at my disposal: a keyboard and a Blogger account.

    Some people mentioned the ridiculous idea that a person can’t write about parenting issues and be a good parent at the same time. Not sure that one needs a reply.

    Some people disagreed with you without attacking you or calling you a Nazi. Don’t people know Internet-arguments must follow a well-established pattern where someone ends up as “just like Hitler”?

    And like I wrote to you on my own blog, I get people commenting on my blog and on my Facebook page, who beg/order me to get involved with the post-divorce dads’ custody-rights issue. It might be an important issue, but it’s an issue that just doesn’t move me. What I saw as hypocrisy by Philips Norelco did move me. I didn’t care about the P&G ad. What I’m saying is that different things move me, you, and everyone else. I don’t put myself out there as the anti-brands crusader, but when something bothers me, I write about it. When something moves you, you write about it. The whole thing is a non-issue.

  17. The reactions to this blog post are interesting. I understand that there are other demographics that have it worse, but these stereotypes get under my skin.

    As the wife of a fantastic father, I have found the “Thanks, Mom!” Olympic ads to be completely lame. The first words out of my mouth when I saw an ad for the new sitcom were “Awesome. Yet another show that portrays dads as incompetent fools.”

  18. Well said! Parent the best you can, with what you have, from where you are. This was hilarious to read and the comments added the spice. Congrats (well deserved) on FP! Still laughing in the Carolinas

  19. The only way to change the ad industry is to raise a fit about it. Which is exactly why the “who gives a shit?” attitude is extremely counterproductive. What’s the point in saying, “I get it, but it’s silly”? All your doing is perpetuating narrow-minded mainstream culture…at the same time you’re pretending to be empathetic.
    Also, “Moms and Dads are different, stereotypically sure, but also iconically, symbolically, realistically.” Point in case. This is me sadly shaking my head.

  20. As a teenager, I spent a lot of time railing against Sports Illustrated subscription ads that only talked about buying the magazine for the men in your life, as if women couldn’t be fans/wouldn’t want to read it. And don’t get me started on the beer commercials (which teach that women haaaate sports and will never let you watch the game with your friends … but they do enjoy being sprayed with water).

    Fifteen years later, those ads still exist…I guess. I use my TiVo button to fast forward through them. Dads, take heart. Your kids will figure out that dads are awesome and commercials are stupid.

  21. My brother is recently what many refer to as a “weekend dad” and I think he, and many others, would greatly benefit from reading more posts like this one. It’s not what the world thinks about you, it’s how you really do it. Thanks Dad and Buried. I reblogged.

  22. Thank you so much for bringing attention to this. Having married a former single dad, these ads were really ticking me off. Kudos.

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