September 14, 2010
Here is the good and the bad from what I experienced.
The good: The people there really care. They care about fatherhood. They care about creating a new, better image of men that the mainstream media doesn't typically promote. People like ManoftheHouse.com and DadLabs were there representing this better way of looking at fathers.
The bad: There weren't enough of them. The attendance was pretty low. Granted, this was the first time this conference took place, but it would have been nice to see more people there.
The good: The corporate brands showed up. Chevrolet was the platinum sponsor of the event. They even had their whole fleet of new cars there for folks to test drive. Predictably, I tested the Corvette and the Camaro. (I liked the Camaro better). T-Mobile also sponsored and gave away lots of free stuff, including beer - a smart strategic move at a men's conference. Their presence was a great sign that brands realize they need to appeal to family men in order to sell products to families.
The bad: A few of the more detailed presentations during the conference revealed that the brands still need more "evidence" that reaching out to fathers makes sense. Apparently, there is not enough data available indicating that men make purchasing decisions in the home. Despite the "feeling" that men are making these decisions with women, and despite the brands' desire to reach out to men more intentionally, they still have cold feet.
The good: There is a plan. Folks in this space are organizing. They see the potential of creating a coherent, powerful community of dads online. They have seen the success that the "mommy bloggers" have had in helping 21st century mothers, and they want to have the same success - but achieve it in a uniquely male way. Such success will mean more men sharing more information about how to be better dads. And who wins when this happens? Their children and their wives.
The bad?: Can men organize and coalesce in the same way women can? Will we waste a lot of time and money trying to do so? I don't think so, but you never know...