“Zach,” you said, “you used to be the king of dadvertising!”
Thank you! It was good to be the king!
“Why doesn’t 8BitDad cover dadvertising anymore?”
Well friends, that’s a great question. And I have a carefully-prepared answer for you. Just kidding, I’m shootin’ the poop off the cuff here. And it goes a little something like this:
We still cover dadvertising. Boom. But here’s the thing: we basically won the fight against poor images in fatherhood. Hooray, right? When we started covering dadvertising here on 8BitDad, fathers were routinely being beaten up in commercials. They were depicted as big, dumb animals who couldn’t cook, couldn’t clean, and couldn’t be trusted to do the day-to-day running of the household unless mom was there, handing him products and telling him exactly what to do. Dad wasn’t looked at as an equal parent; he was seen as another child to be taken care of.
Those images sucked. So we fought against them. Along the way, a lot of other people also fought – and the topic picked up steam. The “bad dad” image in commercials was covered everywhere: Ad Age, CNN, Huffington Post, Washington Post, to name a few. Brands listened. By the time I published our “Observations on Dad-Bias in 140 Commercials” from 2013, commercials were already looking a lot better. By my own scale, nearly 87% of the 140 commercials I reviewed rated as neutral toward the image of fatherhood or higher. That’s a lot of positivity, yo.
Another project was planned for commercials airing in 2014. It was to include 1-5 ratings of not only me, but also as many other dad bloggers as I could muster. The response was great, actually. Fifty other dad bloggers signed up to rate commercials, and started doing so. The results were good. Like, really good. Too good.
But so were my results. Out of the 106 tracked commercials for 2014, I hadn’t rated any of them as a “1” (meaning the commercial showed an indisputably bad image of fathers), and I had only rated 7 commercials a “2” (mostly bad). Fifty one commercials were rated as “3” (neutral), 35 were rated a “4” (mostly good), and 12 were “5” (indisputably good). So, basically 93% of the commercials I watched were neutral-to-good.
Like I said, dudes: we won. Yub nub!
By the end of 2014, I had pitched a dadvertising panel to the Dad 2.0 Summit, the annual convention that acts as “the business of fatherhood”, so to speak. And something incredible happened: my pitch was rejected. The response I got was basically what I’m telling you now: we jumped that hurdle. We fought the good fight, and though there are still some stragglers (we’re looking at you, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, like seriously), most of the advertising industry now agrees that fathers are parents too. Good ones. So, a panel on the struggle to show positive images of fatherhood in commercials, basically, is moot. It’s already happening. In the meantime, we’ll keep fighting those few stragglers.
The struggle now is to work on policy and culture. Things like paid paternal leave. We need new dads to be okay with leaving work to take care of their new kids, and supported both by his coworkers and his company.
So dudes, if we see a commercial that’s unusually bad or good for dads, we’ll write about it. But in case you hadn’t heard, we won. Bang a gong, get it on.