This week, we look at the true meaning of fatherhood. For all of us in advertising, at least. What needs to change in our representation?

Dadvertising for modern Dads

Four Lavender Dads share what’s at the top of their wish list for Father’s Day advertising.

Ed, Max, Ian, Russell

CX Lavender

Brand Expression

6 minute read

When ads are dominated by middle-aged men using power tools or barbequing, you know Father’s Day is around the corner. This Father’s Day, we’re getting into the meaty issue of why these ads might not be speaking to all Dads.

According to one Getty Images Visual GPS report, 64% of men in Australia and New Zealand don’t feel represented in media and advertising.1 Stereotypes of the corporate man, the sports star and the ‘playful’ parent have inundated our screens, but a newfound focus on topics like men’s mental health are changing the way ads look.

This Father’s Day, we’re reflecting on those ads that are doing things differently.
Bonds ‘Think of Fathers’ (2016)

An ad that asks us to help Dads feel more comfortable this Father’s Day with undies that flex with all the changes fatherhood brings.

 

Best quality:
Relatable (Why do my knees creak so much?!).

Love notes:
  • I love that they’ve taken two overdone clichés, a bunch of average Aussie blokes hard up on their luck (think every beer/gambling ad from the past decade) and selling socks and undies as Father’s Day gifts (yawn) then created something that is unique and exceptionally engaging.
  • The delightful little nodding-switching-to-head-shaking joke ending which wouldn’t look out of place in The Office.
  • This mockumentary style is a great way to create a sharable piece of branded content. A little chuckle will go a long way in persuading someone to send on.
  • The opening scene of the man staring into the distance, the soundtrack, the facial reactions of the other men listening, the little cutaway shots of the tea being stirred. Yes, yes, yes and yes.
  • They haven’t tried to force the brand into it either and yet the product is so clearly visible in every single shot.
  • Ending your ad on a crotch shot. Ballsy move.

As a Dad I…

Love the humour and the authenticity. There’s some great writing in it (and probably a bit of adlib and clever editing) that feels so real. I also don’t feel sold to, but I do feel entertained.

Rusty (Dad of Rex)
McDonald’s ‘Something for Dad’ (2016)

This TVC draws on the love between Dads and Daughters to create an emotive vignette of the sacrifices and everyday triumphs of parenthood.

 

Best quality:
Truth.

Love notes:
  • This ad uses emotion really effectively, making it very memorable.
  • True to life and in touch with the key audience. There were a lot of very genuine moments that I connected with.
  • It’s funny. Need I say more?

As a Dad I…
Laughed. However, I think it was a bit of an over-the-top way to sell fast food. The advert would have made me feel a bit better if they weren’t promoting an unhealthy product for families, that should be really a once a year treat or not at all. I’ll do anything for my kids but I won’t feed them McDonalds… I’ll save it for me.

Ed (Dad of Fox & Ivy)
Stockland ‘Dad. A small word for a big job.’ (2018)

This ad celebrates every kind of Dad – whether they’re the strong silent type or the sideline supporter.

 

Best quality:
Respectful.

Love notes:
  • There’s a real nuance to it, showing diversity across parenthood and the breadth of roles that fathers fill.
  • Good production value means it hits exactly the right tone.
  • It’s a good change of pace. I don’t feel like I’m being shouted at to buy a lawnmower while prices are at an all-time low!

As a Dad I…
Feel appreciated. I saw a part of myself in the representations of fatherhood, which makes a change from most Father’s Day ads.

Ian (Dad of Matt, Alison and Rory)
Ikea ‘Get a ******* Kitchen Installed’ (2011)

While not exactly a Father’s Day ad, this IKEA radio spots brings to life the trials and tribulations of building a family home as a Dad.

 

Best quality:
$%*@ing honest.

Love notes:
  • It’s an authentic nod to every Dad who’s experienced the tortuous, expletive-filled journey of flat-pack assemblies.
  • It surprises and delights by cleverly flipping the kid’s summer holiday update into an honest reflection of family imperfection.
  • It plays to the very best attributes of radio with a script that’s simple, uncomplicated and brilliantly insightful.
  • The Little Lad is a natural performer, hitting every note with effortless charm.
  • This one stayed with me long after I heard it and I found myself smiling wryly every time I ventured into my son’s bedroom and came face to face with his IKEA bunk bed.

As a Dad I…
Like every Dad who has been there, done that and taken on an IKEA assembly, this made me smile and wince at the same time. A brilliantly simple and beautifully insightful radio spot.

Max (Dad of Jake and Leo)
Dadvertising 101
If the above has proven anything, it’s that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to Father’s Day advertising. Fatherhood is a diverse experience and while some may be the power tool-wielding type, others love a good tear-jerker.

Things to consider when making a cracker of a d-ad:
  • Say goodbye to the hands-off-sit-on-the-couch tropes – The modern Dad is confident and engaged in their multifaceted parenting role.2
  • Involve them in the real parenting moments – Advertisers love to flog Dads sporting biographies and cars, but rarely are they the heroes of genuinely heartfelt parent-child bonding moments on screen.3
  • Baby products aren’t just for mums and bubs – Men need to know what to buy babies too, but most baby products are almost exclusively marketed to women. Don’t just assume that only women will be tasked with buying baby products.4

on parental leave
Parental leave policies are becoming increasingly gender-neutral in Australia, even down to the term itself. Fathers and partners are able to take more time off for their kids, which actually sees recruitment, retention and promotion rates increase. Equitable parental leave works so much better for families and businesses – it’s a win-win situation.
Love them or lose them
To keep their employees, organisations need Dad-friendly cultures. Here’s how to create one.

Men are even more likely to change jobs than women so they can be more involved with their child’s life and support their partner. So it’s clear more needs to be done beyond just Father’s Day recognition to support them.

1. Recognise Dads as caretakers.
Acknowledge the stress and excitement of family life for all employees, regardless of gender or family structure. Try extending office rituals to include everyone; for example, if baby showers are thrown for expectant mothers, they could also be thrown for expectant fathers.

2. Embrace flexible work options.
COVID has taught us all that flexible work can have its benefits, and organisations have long put conscious effort into embracing these methods for mothers returning to work. Making these options available to any new parent means fathers can also benefit.

3. Make the options clear.
These may already be available to your employees, but research shows that male employees rarely take full advantage. This can be because of the perception that managers don’t support time off for a new child (despite most saying the opposite) or because they don’t see the same behaviour modelled by others. The fix? Managers and supervisors need to be more vocal about Dads and partners exercising their choices.

 

References
  1. Kate Rourke, Visual GPS: Diversity & Inclusion ANZ (12 August 2021) Getty Images.
  2. Trendhunter, Dadvertising Trendhunter.
  3. Ben Pobjie, Dadvertising: When are brands going to realise that dads parent too?, (October 2018) Direct Advice for Dads.
  4. Fatherly, What is Dadvertising (January 2019) Fatherly.

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