The Father Factor

PBS Parents Engages in More “Dads and Clueless” Stereotyping

Posted by Vincent DiCaro

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Jul 23, 2012

pbsparentsOne of the reasons NFI gives out the Fatherhood Award™ to worthy individuals and corporations is because we believe that “lighting a candle” is often more effective than “cursing the darkness.” However, from time to time, we feel it is necessary to curse some darkness, as we did about a Huggies advertising campaign in March.

Now is another time. On June 15, just in time for Father’s Day, the Facebook page for PBS Parents posted this picture of dads in the baby food aisle, presumably on the phone with their wives, with the caption, “Ha!”

Sure, the photo is kind of funny. But, as we have pointed out numerous times before, would it fly if they posted a picture of clueless-looking women at an auto parts store? First, they would never post such a picture. Second, if they did, they would take it down the moment a negative comment came in.

After all, shouldn’t we be getting past stereotypes? PBS Parents apparently thinks so, as they posted this article called “7 Ways to Fight Stereotypes.”

Except, of course, when it comes to dads. Again, as we have often repeated here at NFI, despite the fact that there is a child-damaging trend of crisis-level father absence in America, our culture continues to think it is ok to make fun of dads, and thus, in our view, discourage them from getting involved.

Despite numerous complaints in the comments next to this photo, PBS Parents did not take down the photo, and basically shrugged off the complaints saying that they meant no offense and that it was meant as a “tribute” to dads.

I don’t believe them. They found the photo on a “humor” website that shares vulgar, even profane, photos, and captioned it with “Ha!” In other words, “laugh at these dads with us!” 

I don’t know enough about PBS Parents to say whether or not the rest of what they do reflects this immature attitude towards fathers. A quick glance at their website suggests that they are mom-centered but offer resources for dads, too.

So, why the dad bashing? First and foremost, they are not afraid. They have no fear that they will lose money or business as a result of posting such content. When moms or women are offended in the public eye, they make a big deal out of it and force change. Men and dads don’t do this, and no one does it for them.

However, this could be changing. I mentioned Huggies earlier. After they received criticism from the community of dads (and moms, too), they pulled the offensive ads and have since been in dialogue with NFI and daddy bloggers in a genuine effort to include dads in a positive way in their branding and messaging.

We indicated then that Huggies’ actions may have marked a turning point in brands actually responding to criticism from fathers. So far, PBS Parents has bucked the trend.

And it may be to their detriment. Research is starting to show that fathers are an important market force. If PBS Parents and their ilk do not change with the times, the last “Ha!” could be on them.

Topics: advertising, huggies, PBS Parents, stereotypes

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