Branding Beat - Cut Through the Noise

Dads Are Consumers, Too: Dad-vertising? It’s About Time!

As someone who watches a lot of television, it’s surprising that I haven’t written a blog about my love of it. I usually write about my other passion, marketing, and if you’re a regular visitor to QLP’s blog you’ve seen some of my past posts and can vouch for that. I blame part of my TV obsession on the networks for (FINALLY) having excellent shows to watch and the other part on my fascination with commercials.

Recently, I have noticed a trend in which some advertised products have shifted focus from one age group to another, specifically Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes (see video below) and Yoplait’s Go-Gurt (view it here). The latest commercials for these products no longer feature a group of kids sitting around a table on Saturday morning scarfing down the sugar-drenched flakes or eating yogurt in an elementary school cafeteria. Instead, these commercials feature the one market that has been left out of targeting: Dads!

Both Kellogg’s and Yoplait’s campaigns tap into the growing “trend” of modern dads buying groceries. According to a recent survey of 2,400 U.S. men by Yahoo, more than half of men between the ages of 18 to 64 said that they identify themselves as the primary shopper in their household; however, only 22% to 24% feel that the packaged goods were actually being marketed to them specially.

I don’t mean to sound cynical, but the fact that angry parent groups have voiced their concerns about advertising to children probably affected this shift. As a result, the Council of Better Business Bureaus and 10 leading food and beverage companies have launched the Better Business Bureau’s Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, whose goal is to shift advertising primarily directed to children from “eat this and you’ll be cool” to instead showing and encouraging healthier dietary choices. The proposal would prohibit child-directed advertising for breakfast cereals that have more than 10 grams of sugar (which would make it illegal for Tony the Tiger to sell to little Tommy or Tina, since Frosted Flakes currently has 11 grams of sugar per serving).

Dads care about their kids' well-being, too!

Dads care about their kids' well-being, too!

What’s the real reason I decided to write this blog? I saw a Go-Gurt commercial that really stopped me in my tracks. First of all, “Dad” was the only person in the ad. Second, he was packing his son’s lunch. It didn’t surprise me that the father was making his son’s lunch for school (heck, my dad makes the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches around) but it was surprising that he was the one responsible for his son’s nutritious lunch of a sandwich and a Go-Gurt. “Mom” wasn’t peeking around the corner to watch him or doing any other so-called normal mom behavior that advertisers commonly point out (such as cleaning up spills on kitchen countertops or dusting). The tagline was rather clever, too (“Dads who get it, get Go-Gurt”) because it plays against the rather mom-centered slogans of other lunch essentials (I’m looking at you, Jiff Peanut Butter, with your “Choosy moms choose Jiff” slogan). Why has it taken so long for Dads to get their due credit in ensuring their kids grow up strong and healthy, at least in marketers’ eyes?

I don’t have an answer, but I’m sure glad that these commercial fathers are getting a better reputation than the ones portrayed as bumbling idiots who can’t clean up a spilled glass of milkwithout Mom swooping in with a towel. Or, as an idiot who doesn’t know to go to Walmart for socks that are comfortable to wear, like in the Hanes socks commercial below.

Dads have always played an integral role in their kids’ lives, but it’s about time marketers and advertisers became aware of that and started to market toward them!

Can you think of any other ads that you feel downgrade guys in general? What about fathers? How does this make you feel? (C’mon, as a woman, I couldn’t resist asking this). Sound off below!


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  1. Jen

    I’m glad advertisers are recognizing that this is not the 1950s anymore and fathers have a role in raising their children.

    It’s nice to see dads recognized for being good nurturing parents. 🙂 Great post Amy!

    • amy

      I completely agree with you Jen! It’s 2011 and times have dramatically changed, it’s no longer taboo for the father to be a stay-at-home dad while his wife goes to work everyday. Maybe next year we’ll see a man actually using cleaning products in a commerical too! ::gasp::

    • Sam

      What about “Choosy Moms and DADS choose Jiff”?

  2. Rachel

    I often see discussion about how women are portrayed in commercials, but rarely men–so this was really interesting! You make great points: dads and men in general do often get stereotyped in ads as bumbling idiots. I really liked that Go-Gurt commercial and the dad making the lunch. You’re so right about how the Mom is usually peeking around the corner in these, and it was refreshing to see a more realistic dad making the lunch.

    Plus, I think I’ve only seen the short version of that socks commercial; I don’t remember the mom explicitly telling the dad he’s stupid! That’s not very nice, haha.

    Thanks for all the insight!

    • amy

      After watching the Go-Gurt commercial it really surprised me how much more often Dads are appearing in TV ads, and in a more positive light. Hopefully, this will be a continuing trend 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  3. Susan

    I wonder if they are not marketing to the downturn in the economy??? There has to be a new target market of men/husbands/dads that are unemployed for a variety of reasons that are now picking up the responsibility of household and child raising duties while the wives/mothers are working yet because they were the lower paid but “can do the job” . PS….I love the movie “Mr Mom”!

    • amy

      Thanks for reading and commenting Susan!

      That idea never crossed my mind, but it’s totally plausible. It seems that more men are out of work than women, so the child raising duties could have been shifted more drastically than in previous generations. Excellent point!

      P.s I love “Mr. Mom” too! One of my favorite Michael Keaton movies by far! 🙂

  4. Mandy Kilinskis

    Honestly, it’s about time. My dad does just about as much shopping as my mom does, and he is super influenced by commercials. And even if advertisers can’t market to kids anymore, they’re smart to move to dads. Who has the money? And who can’t resist buying things for their kids? That would be dads.

    Now all advertisers have to do is spotlight a dad shopping with his just-outta-college-aged daughter or son. With the amount of kids still living at home (Thanks, economy!), that commercial would hit a great target audience.

    • amy

      I completely agree Mandy! There’s been a lot of recent articles published about grown children staying at home longer due to the poor economy. I love the Versa car commercials where the kids are working full-time and still living at home and are complaining about how their parents now have lives. LOL, funny stuff!

  5. Amanda

    Great blog post Amy! I find it so interesting that more commercials are advertising to fathers these days. I think it’s great that dads are stepping up the plate more than they used to. I find the Go-Gurt commercial interesting–even though there’s no mom there, she still left notes all over so that dad wouldn’t forget the Go-Gurt. And in my experience, that’s how it still is. I find that it’s still more moms that are doing the household things like packing lunches, and stuff. But if the fathers want to do it, more power to them! I think that running a home (especially with kids, I’m sure!) takes all parties pitching in to help. =)

    • amy

      I love your thought, “I think that running a home (especially with kids, I’m sure!) takes all parties pitching in to help”! That’s so true! Going to a grocery store after working all day and you’ll see men in their business suits picking up their kid’s favorite cereal or snack as well as women. Families with young kids can use all the help they can get 🙂

  6. Jill Tooley

    Amy, this IS quite refreshing! My dad has always been an intelligent, competent man who stayed involved with our daily lives however he could, and I’ve always been kind of offended at the way fathers are portrayed in commercials and ads. Sure, he may not know how to find the best deals quite like my mom and he may not be able to cook a gourmet meal, but he’s certainly capable enough to go to the store and buy socks (and he’s a pro at wiping up spills). Bravo to these marketers for finally figuring out that dads have a hand in their children’s development, now more than ever!

    I read that the Go-Gurt ad is getting some criticism because people are still saying it portrays dads in a poor light. I guess it’s due to all of the little sticky-note reminders; people are complaining that the dad shouldn’t need to be reminded that much about yogurt. To me, his “DUH” line at the end kind of counteracts that, though. It’s as if he’s saying “Yeah, I’m not an idiot! I know that already.” So it seems positive to me! Just goes to show you that you can’t please everyone, no matter how hard you try!

    Great post, Amy! 🙂

    • amy

      I’ve seen that criticsm as well Jill and I agree with you. I interpreted it as the dad is saying, “pfft, of course I know you like Go-Gurt and I’m an awesome dad who listens”. I’m really hoping that this is a long-lasting trend and not just a sudden fad in advertising, it’s about time we appreciated the dads in our lives 🙂

  7. Joseph Giorgi

    It’s nice to see that the playing field has been leveled (so to speak) from a marketing perspective. Men are certainly capable of handling their share of household responsibilities, so I suppose it’s about time for conventional advertisements to reflect that. Very progressive. Very cool.

    Great post, Amy! 🙂

    • amy

      Thanks Joe! My parents share the household responsibilities, so that’s what I consider my “normal”. My dad always helps clean around the house and actually enjoys vacuuming LOL We need more guys like that!!

  8. JPorretto

    Ummm as much as I’d like to say that Dads are misrepresented, my Dad was almost exactly like how most of the commercials portray Dads. He once got in a fight with a Kleenex box…. and lost. I will not provide further details as it sullies my family name.

    But I totally agree that if you’re marketing to them, probably not the best idea to call them bumbling idiots 😉

    • Amanda

      I know what you mean Jeff. Like I said, in my family, it’s not that the men are not intelligent and they certainly could do these household/kid type tasks….it’s just that they don’t do them, and never have had to do them. The women in my family have never had to work, and it’s been the mothers job to do all cooking, cleaning, packing lunch, PTA meetings, etc. The fathers in our family worked, and worked hard to earn a good living. They were served a hot meal when they got home from work, and their clothes were put away for them, etc. So to me, the commercials have always been mostly true. But I do realize, that this is not normal for everyone, and that dads are stepping up more. I just also know that a home where the mom does most of the household things and the man works can be extremely loving, well organized, and functional. I don’t see the need for this shift in every family. I feel that whatever each persons role is, as long as they’re working together and it works for them, great! =)

  9. Kelly

    I’ve been a part of many conversations and always agree that men are becoming a more active part in raising kids. These days it usually takes both parents, working and parenting, to make raising a family successful. My husband is a wonderful father, gets the kids up, dressed in the morning, bathes them at night, he is capable of doing it all without instruction from “mom”. He also coincidentally has found a new love for Go-gurt. 🙂 I’m so glad that dad’s are finally getting the marketing attention they deserve for the hard work they do.

    • Amy Swanson

      Aww, you’re husband sounds like a great guy Kelly!! I’m really hoping Dads like this will be portrayed a lot more often now in advertising 🙂 Thanks so much for reading and your awesome input!!

  10. Eric

    Here’s another, non-bumbling-fool-Dad one:

    Saw this one the other day for JIF Peanut Butter. Interesting in that it skips right past the stereotypical, ball-playing, father-and-son relationship and shows a father with his daughter, but it succeeds in going right for the sentimentalist with the whole family-building-a-treehouse-together element.

    Then again, probably my favorite thing to do with my Pop was to play catch out in the yard, and it’s a strong angle to play. Very few guys out there will frown upon a commercial like that.

    Interesting post. Amy! Noticed this myself in commercials as of late, too.

    • amy

      I completely forgot about this one!! I guess maybe marketers and advertisers are being more sensitive to the idea that daughters also enjoy hanging out with their fathers, just like sons do. I smiled when the tagline was, “Choosy Moms and Dads choose Jif” Awwww 🙂

      I think Jif also did a commerical with a grandfather and girl that was really sweet. I’m just glad commercials aren’t just focusing on women doing all the cooking and cleaning and men just sitting watching sports. Yay for gender roles being tweaked and brought to the 21st century!!

  11. Chad

    Am I nuts because I noticed something very interesting about the dad making lunch as. I am going through a divorce so like a policeman I l t life if differently. The first time I saw the ad I looked for and noticed he had NO ring. He was a single dad. I just saw the ad again ( about 3 weeks later) and now he has a ring?? Am I crazy or did this really happen? Is there any way to find this out??

  12. Norman

    I was wondering why the Yogurt commercial stuck in my head; finally credit well deserved was unique enough for me to visit their website and eventually come across this article. I also enjoy the idea of marketing being targeted at parents rather than emotional pandering to children, a wise decision that I’ll try to help encourage.

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