It would be such a great story if it weren’t for the fact that he’s only okay playing dress-up with his daughter–thereby humiliating himself–if there’s artificially flavored snack chips in it for him.
I asked my 7 year old (who pretty much called every commercial “weird” last night) what she thought the Doritos ad was about.
“It was about a girl who wanted to play princess with her dad.”
Why do you think she wanted to do that?
“Because they never get to play together because he’d rather play football.”
And then what?
“She offered him Doritos. And he liked Doritos so much that he would play with her.”
So what would you say the lesson of the commercial is?
“You should always do something nice for somebody else and not have to give them something to do it.”
See why I like her so much?
Now clearly these are not the rantings of some humorless feminist (love when those two words are put together) or even a mom who had to turn off the TV and switch to Harry Potter–the book–when a spot came on featuring 2 Broke Girls pole dancing and sucking whipped cream off their fingers “because it’s for the Super Bowl.” (Expectations met and exceeded!)
It’s simply what my daughter witnessed and understood. Which sucks. She doesn’t know a world in which dads won’t play with their kid and it’s too bad that she saw one last night. Because I’m going to go on a limb and say that dads playing dollhouse or dress-up or LEGO Friends or American Girl Doll with their daughters are a pretty common occurrence in 2013. Even dads who watch football. Even dads who watch football drunk while scarfing down snack chips.
The ironic part, for me at least, is that the Super Bowl spots aired only hours after I returned home from speaking at the quite excellent Dad 2.0 Summit in Houston.
Let’s just say, that was one big group of dads who are going to change things for the better.
Luckily, there was only one oddly insecure dude who seemed somehow freaked out that “mommy bloggers” were there (oh noes!) then spent way too long trying to convince me that dad brands online are stronger than mom brands online because dads won’t read anything with “mom” in the title because it is always about “shoes, shopping and coupons.”
(Oh crap, I just mentioned shoes, shopping and coupons! He’s right!)
The rest of the weekend, in contrast, was filled with moments that encouraged me for the future of humanity in general and parenthood specifically:
-Men who were as captivated by Brené Brown talking about vulnerability as they were about Jeff Pulver discussing all his entrepreneurial ventures, and David Eagleman passionately describing the neuroscience of fatherhood.
-Jim Higley kicking ass in a cooking competition.
-Men who could throw down at the blackjack table, while sharing iPhone photos of the kids at home they were starting to miss.
-Black Hockey Jesus describing the lengths he goes to protect his children’s privacy.
-Men who could belly laugh with the familiarity of Whit Honea‘s blog post about his son mistaking the words dumbfuck and dumptruck–while also being moved to tears at Ted Rubin‘s story of fighting to see his children post-divorce.
And then finally, there was one moment that encapsulated the conference perfectly: In the closing remarks, a blogger entered to win an iPad Mini from a sponsor was not present when his name was called, meaning per the rules, the prize went to the next name drawn. Moments later, it was announced he was out of the room at that time for a pretty good reason.
He was changing his baby.
The conference chipped in to give him his own iPad Mini anyway, and the room broke into rousing applause.
I’m wondering when the marketers are going to catch up with the reality of the parenting world. We’re making progress, but we’re still not quite there. In fact, one of the brand managers at the conference described (I’m super vaguely paraphrasing here) the choice not to portray dads in ads much because moms still do the majority of the purchasing of their product.
Don’t they understand that a mother seeing a dedicated co-parent taking responsibility for their collective offspring on the teevee is not alienating? It triggers something in our brains or hearts or ovaries that makes us feel warm and fuzzy. It makes us want to like that brand.
I don’t need to see “me” in an ad for paper towels, or diapers, or shortbread cookies or hybrid cars to know that I may still make the purchase decision about these products. I just need to know if they are good products, and whether the company’s values line up with mine. A sense of humor helps. But one rooted in Mad Men-era values doesn’t quite move the needle for me.
The notion of committed, engaged fatherhood is here to stay, and I was so privileged to have a front seat to witness so much of it this week. It might not be everywhere just yet, but in enough places that I think the ad industry should take note.
I have faith that marketers can keep their sense of humor, while still figuring out how to portray dads playing princess simply because dads love their daughters.
Maybe even more than they love Doritos.