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The Father Factor

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Great Commercial. Bad tagline.

I love the pro-fatherhood imagery in this commercial. Take a look:

Pampers Gets Pops

Last month at Pampers Cincinnati, OH headquarters, NFI president Roland C. Warren presented the big baby care brand with a Fatherhood Award™ for its “A Parent is Born,” “Welcome to Parenthood,” and “Love Comes Early” video series.

So Easy, Even a Dad Can Do It

I have to take a deep breath when I write blog posts like this.

While more and more advertisers are starting to realize that dads are competent parents that make or share in family purchasing decisions, there are still far too many stragglers that continue to play the “dads are dumb” line over and over again.

Huggies, the huge diaper brand, is one of the worst offenders. Their most recent ad campaign may take the cake for advertising that is condescending to dads and out of touch with reality. Watch the ad here.

The imagery in the ad is great – dads taking care of their babies. We need to see more of that. But it’s the voice over and premise of the ad where the problem is: “To prove Huggies diapers can handle anything, we put them to the ultimate test: dads… alone with their babies….”

What this reminds me of are the Geico commercials with the caveman. Remember those: “So easy a caveman can do it.” These Huggies ads send the same message: our diapers are so easy to use that even a dad can’t mess this up.

Congrats, dads! You are in the same camp as cavemen! The problem of course is that cavemen don’t exist anymore, but dads do!

Compare the Huggies ads to ones where products have to pass the “mom test” and you will find that those are handled in the opposite way. To pass the mom test, a product has to prove that it lives up to the high standards that moms demand. Like the old Kix cereal commerial, whose tagline was, “Kid tested, mom approved.” But the Huggies ads take the opposite tack; the product has to be tested by dads so that it survives the low standards that dads set.

If you are not yet convinced that these ads send a terrible message about fatherhood, or that these ads are harmless and mean to be “funny,” think of it another way. There is a stereotype out there that women are worse drivers than men. So imagine a car commercial that says, “We are putting our new car to the ultimate test – giving it to a woman for 5 days to see if it survives!” The outcry would be justifiably enormous…

I have to wonder who in the heck Huggies is testing these messages on or what research they are looking at that shows that these sorts of insulting messages to dads are still acceptable. The reality is that dads are changing diapers, caring for babies, and being involved dads. And where they are not, we need to be encouraging them to do so because it is what kids and families need.

Huggies’ ad plays to old stereotypes and ultimately discourages involved fatherhood by playing up the idea that dads just aren’t as good at parenting as moms are. At a minimum, I imagine this ad is discouraging dads from buying Huggies – there appears to be quite an uproar about it online.

What do you think of the commercial? Click here to view it and make a statement. If Huggies is in fact committing a “violation” here, they need to hear from you so that things can change for the better.

I have driven a Ford lately

Besides a house, a car is probably the biggest purchase you will make in your life. And one of the pivotal times in your life when you decide to buy a car is when you are going to have kids. You have to say sayonara to the awesome, but impractical sports car in favor of something that can carry several passengers, luggage, groceries, pets, sports equipment, etc.

For me, this decision came in June of last year. My wife was 2 months pregnant, and we had just brought home a puppy who would grow to become a 70-pound adult dog. My 2002 Ford Taurus was starting to show signs of age, and I wanted something that would allow me to simultaneously transport a car seat, a large animal, me, and my wife. Since I can’t put a dog in a trunk, I knew it was time for an SUV.

I had always liked the design of the Ford Edge, and I had a great experience with my workhorse Taurus. The research I did online revealed that the Edge had been recognized as one of "Best Cars for Families" in 2007 by AAA and Parents magazine. It earned this title for its safety features, the ease of car seat installation, the ample interior space, and other family-friendly features.

That was all I needed to see. I went over to the Ford dealership in early July and purchased my low mileage 2008 Ford Edge.

It was an immediate hit with the dog. He loved to hop in the rear cargo space and go for rides. And it was large enough for him to sleep comfortably in during our 6-hour drive to our vacation spot that year. During the vacation, we had the ability to carry beach chairs, umbrellas, and other beach equipment while my wife and I sat in the front and the dog lazed in the rear cargo space.

Then, six months later, our son was born. As advertised, the car seat was very easy to install, and I felt safe driving our baby around.

And it still appeals to my “guyness.” It looks cool, has great acceleration, and a good sound system. Overall, I am very happy with my purchase.

The irony is that Ford did this without ever marketing to me as a father. Think about what brands like Ford could accomplish if they intentionally target dads as consumers and sell them on the family-friendliness of their products. Most families are two-car families, which likely means that both mom and dad have “their car.” The decision to buy the Edge for family purposes was totally my decision.

The “dad market” is still largely untapped, but more and more brands are starting to see the wisdom of reaching out to fathers, who are increasingly making home purchasing decisions. There is a huge opportunity here for Ford and others to really own the dad space. I look forward to seeing it happen.

The Father Factor Blog: News, tips, and tools for dads and those helping dads.

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