17 days until the Winter Olympics begin.
Several weeks ago, I saw murmurs about this Proctor and Gamble Sochi ’14 ad. I ignored them. As we get closer to the lighting of the torch, however, this ad will start making the rounds:
This ad is a follow-up to an earlier P&G campaign during the London summer olympics in 2012. A brief skim of tweets using the hashtag #ThankYouMom, I see the ad is getting great reviews. People called it great advertising. They’re calling it a tearjerker. I didn’t like that one either. I ranted about their ad over a year ago.
But I KNEW that I would just hate the ad when my husband came home last week and asked me if I’d seen it. I told him that I hadn’t and asked him if it was more of the same.
He surprised me with his review. He told me that after he watched it, his first thought was, “Where are all of the dads?” [He’s more of a sociologist than he will ever know.]
So I watched it.
I must be missing the bone in my body that falls for marketing stunts like this one. While I appreciate the artistry and sentiment of this ad (and its earlier cousin), I have to ask you, Proctor and Gamble,
WHERE ARE ALL THE DADS?
I know that corporations market to the people who use their products. And I am a consumer of P&G products (and also a mom). I brush my teeth with Crest. I wipe our counters with Bounty paper towels and our tushies with Charmin. I wash my clothes with Tide and I clean my dishes with Cascade.
You know who else uses those products? My husband. He shaves his face with Gillette razors. And he has changed countless baby tushies in Pampers. And he wipes counters and does laundry and washes dishes all with P&G products. In fact, it’s my HUSBAND (the FATHER in this household) that is brand loyal. Not me. I would happily buy whatever is on sale that week at the store if it was up to me, but I’d have to deal with dirty looks from him.
Are P&G products are only for women to use? I had no idea it was 1965 when no men did housework or cared for children. Parents’ roles in the home (and this is in a two-parent, hetero home) are changing where fathers are doing more housework and mothers are doing less. According to recent time use data , full-time working men and women spend about the same amount of time during the work week on household tasks except that men watch a little more television and women do a little more cooking.
Proctor and Gamble make everything known to man. They make Tide and Crest and Pampers. Every. Thing.
Couldn’t they pick, I don’t know, ANY OTHER PRODUCT USED BY MEN and thrown in some “Thank you, Dad” for good measure?
The ad is infuriating for other reasons. I get that P&G wants to target consumers, but only slightly more women watch the winter Olympics than men. And don’t more men participate in skiing and hockey than women?
Beyond targeting who you THINK your consumer is, companies might consider taking a flying leap into the 21st century and thinking about family life in a modern way. That’s what General Mills did when they included a biracial family in a 2013 Cheerios ads. The ad garnered lots of attention, so kudos to General Mills for recognizing that their customer base is diverse. Though stay-at-home dads don’t mind being overlooked by marketing departments, they do wonder about advertisers’ myopic focus on a 1950’s family form.
Last time I checked, it was 2014 and not 1965. I know for certain that if our daughter takes up some winter sport like downhill skiing, she’ll have her father to thank for spending time with her on the slopes and for doing her laundry. While I might keep some things running around the house, I’m not the only parent who can support her. I’m just no help in the winter sports department–I quit skiing last year.
 Bureau of Labor Statistics
You tell ’em, Rachel! Well written and so very true. I’m also product loyal but haven’t touched a diaper in years. Our hubbies rock, even if P&G doesn’t get that. On the other hand, I’m still mourning the loss of Guiding Light & haven’t forgiven P&G for that yet.
Women account for more than 70% of consumer spending. I suspect that this factor is influencing P&G’s advertising decisions.
P&G has also outperformed the market regardless of economic conditions and is one of the most stable companies for the last 50 years. It is one of the safest investments that a stockholder can make.
All this leads me to think that although there are excellent social reasons to include fathers in these ads, there are probably not as many good economic reasons from the perspective of a shareholder. Companies want to make money. Enormous companies like P&G that invest enormous sums of money into advertising, research and focus groups tend to know things about selling products that we could never know.
If the inclusion of fathers in these ads would boost sales, I suspect that they would be there.
While the Cheerios add receives attention and praise, the real question is this:
Did it increase sales?
We all know critically acclaimed television shows that go off the air because as critically acclaimed as they may be, no one is watching them.
Cheerios might have received some great press, but how many boxes of Cheerios did the ad translate into?
I also wonder how many moms or dads care about the presence of fathers in these ads. Advertising does not operate on a conscious level. It creates unconscious impressions in our minds that gradually form our opinions about products. And yes, these ads contribute to an unconscious perception of father in society, but improve the perception of fathers as parents is not one of the company’s goals. I looked. They exist to make money for their stockholders.
None of this mitigates your outrage. None of this means that excluding fathers of these ads doesn’t suck. Personally, I don’t care all that much. P&G’s advertising campaign does not define me as a father, and if I am a good father, the ads will do little to convince my wife and children otherwise. But I understand why some might feel differently.
In the end, it’s a business decision.
More thoughts, but we’ll add them to our agenda.
I was thinking the same thing. Made me kind of mad.
I also HATE the commercials where the households fall apart when the Mom is sick. Honestly, the Dad in our house makes us all a bit more sane and balanced!
Admittedly, I read your full post before I watched the video so I watched it with a critical eye that wasn’t unbiased. For the first 30-40 seconds, I thought I might disagree with your points because I saw P&G showing Moms in a coaching role that is usually portrayed by Dads (and I liked that). But then the commercial went on. It hammered home the “pull at your heartstrings” point a bit too much for my liking. It didn’t feel real. I think that is where this commercial fails. It just doesn’t feel authentic. The lack of Dads or diversity or coaching staff or siblings, just doesn’t feel like an actual athletic experience. It feels like selective editing to show a false ideal and that almost always fails to connect to consumers in a lasting way. Not only do they need “dads” in this ad, they need teams and families and real life. As a mother (and a consumer), I don’t want to be “sponsored”. I want to be authentically inspired. This fell short. Thanks for the post.
Good post. I can also understand Matthew’s take on it also.
Speaking of gender and ads, there used to be ads for pain relievers,toothpaste etc., that would have the premise of a wife saying “My husband is a dentist, etc.” and he recommends such and such a product. Those used to bug me because it was never the other way around with the wife as the dentist. The male was always presented as the expert.
I can’t stand this ad either, but then a lot of ads annoy me. Most ads for cleaning products show a woman cleaning her home – or a man trying to do the job and being rubbish at it. I’m not happy with either of those two versions of “Reality in Ad-land,” but I guess we are stuck with it until someone with a little imagination comes up with something better.
There are plenty of ads aimed at fathers, most of which make me want to heave, in the same way as the Proctor and Gamble ad did. One in particular that made me angry was for a formula milk, where the wonderful dad promised “Never to pretend to be asleep for the night feed.” I thought, why should that even need a promise? And what do you want now, a medal?!
But back to the Proctor and Gamble ad. My main issue with that one – and I can feel the anger building up as I type, my poor keyboard – is the tagline;”Proctor and Gamble, proud sponsor of mums. ”
Oh, I’m being sponsored, am I? Sponsored to clean and wash and scrub and basically take care of my children? And how does this sponsorship deal work? I pay money for cleaning products and use them in my home, and…oh, that’s it. So you are not really sponsoring me at all then, Proctor and Gamble, you are just selling me things and then creating sick-making ads like this to give us all a big pat on the back and muscle in on some of the credit for helping to raise our wonderful children. No wonder my kids are turning out alright, then; I bought the right washing powder. Maybe that is what is in this strange sponsorship arrangement for me?
While I am in the ranting mood, let’s take a closer look at the absence of dads in this ad. Now, there is no dad in our house, so I have to try to be open minded and fair about this. But would Proctor and Gamble really patronise dads with a line like “Proud sponsor of dads?” It doesn’t quite sound right, does it? That’s because, in adland, good dads don’t do cleaning, they take the kids to the park and push them on the swings, or they take their sons to the football wearing matching scarves and put their little boys up on their shoulders.
Yes, in adland it is still very much The Past, and I am so sick of it.
Hence the length of this comment! Sorry! Off to take some deep breaths now, thank you for this great post.
Interesting. Yoplait (also a General Mills product) has an ad out that shows the kid reminding DAD to pick up the “Go-Gurt.” I saw it a couple of times before it registered, but I was really impressed at this acknowledgement that more and more MEN are playing key roles in purchasing these products, and in child-rearing (for a variety of reasons from single-parent situations, to same-sex situations, to a stronger preference by one parent in a two-parent hetero situation).
I really wonder what my dad thinks of these things… my mother (like me) LOATHES the grocery store, so for years, that’s one chore he reliably does. Unless mom specifies a band, Dad is the person who chooses one. Missed opportunity if the ads all target Mom.
I asked a football player once why they always say “Hi mom” to the camera (not dads) & He said 1) time limit and 2) mom is who automatically comes to mind as the person who nurtured you , fed you, drove to practice, cleaned your uniform….not necessarily fair to dads. This ad I think may just be trying to speak to that sentiment….though I am always reminding our kids I may be the one to “feed them” but its because dad is at WORK to pay for it !
While I appreciate the sentiment of the commercial, the sacrifice that parents make for their athlete, I agree with this post. My dad coached my brother in hockey until he was out of his league. My dad took my brother to every single 7am practice. My mom went to every single game. My dad coached my soccer team until I played more competitively. And like your family. My dad uses the same products, and participates in 50% of the housework, including laundry. Both my parents were there when I scored a goal. Both my parents paid money to watch my brother pay competitive league hockey, and both my parents paid for hotels and trips for tournaments, sacrificing their dream of a cottage for my brother and I. Proctor and Gamble: update your advertising.
Thanks so much for your comment, Heather!
I hadn’t heard of this ad before I read your post. Your post highlights an important issue: that gender stereotyping is still so prevalent in some areas of the media and in some peoples’ attitudes. When I was doing my high school exams a few years ago, I wrote a piece of my coursework about the role of gender in advertising. I can’t remember exactly what I wrote now but fundamentally the results confirmed traditional, conservative gender roles.
Congrats on being Freshly Pressed for the second time! I discovered your blog the first time you were Freshly Pressed and have enjoyed reading your posts since then.
Great post. Unfortunately fatherhood has become a lost art. And Hollywood makes sure fathers are looked upon like we are all Homer Simpson.
Ted, I completely agree with your statement. Fatherhood is almost always portrayed in a way that makes men look like bumbling fools.
This is something that bothers me terribly. When dads are present, they are portrayed as incompetent. Some households have no moms and they run just fine. These old assumptions about roles in the house are so tired.
I totally agree with you on the Dad’s! Shame on you P&G!
I couldn’t disagree with you more. There is an absence of men in this advert, but for a lot of us mums, that’s the reality. I saw solo parents in this advert, a group who are usually treated with disdain and suspicion by society, and certainly so in the media. Usually. This advert is celebrating what we do as solo mums and for a change our children are seen to be achievers rather than being ‘broken’ in some way. I loved this ad, and felt represented by it. The media is usually depicting mum and dad having a lovely time raising their children together. Me and my children are therefore constantly sent the message that our family structure is outside the ‘norm’. Here, at last, I am represented in a positive way, and so are my children. Why the heck not celebrate mums anyway, solo or not?
Thank you for your comment and for your perspective. I hadn’t seen that when I viewed the ad, but I hope you can see where I was arguing that the media’s use of deeply held stereotypes about parenting roles is further reinforcing that in two-parent hetero (mom and dad) families, moms do the majority of emotional and physical labor of housekeeping. At the end of the post, I am calling for us to think about other family forms and to accept them as normal. I also think we celebrate moms plenty for doing just the household things and never the thinking or working or sacrificing outside of the home. I am so glad you commented because I hadn’t seen it this way. Thank you again!
Where there is a single mom, there’s often a single dad too. Having your kid one week out of two means your ex has the kid half the year like you do. Or he should, unless he’s a deadbeat. Regardless, the ads are clearly gender-biaised and miss the mark. They’d be fine for a Mother’s Day campaign but this is the Olympics. Besides, having a kid (let alone two) competing up to the Olympic level is nearly impossible for a single parent, it’s just plain too expensive. I’d like to see a study on how many athletes do.
I appreciate your perspective–you’re right that single parents are entirely absent from the advertising world. Thanks for your comment!
We all have our own perspective on this and bring our personal situations to the table when forming opinions. I have my kids all the time, as do lots of other single mums I know. Sorry, I can’t call absent fathers ‘Single dads’, it just doesn’t fit. I also know dads who have their children alternate weeks. Yes, single dads each one of them. I also know a few stay at home dads. That’s great. It’s still not my experience. While money can be tight for solo parents, it’s buying into stereotype and prejudice to presume we’re all financially hard-up. As a teacher, I’ve seen that it’s the psychological barriers that stop children achieving, not the financial ones. NZ’s current Prime Minister comes from a solo parent home – one like mine. I still love this advert. I see where you are all coming from in this discussion and often there’s gender imbalance in the media. But I don’t rant about the huge number of adverts that show two parent families, or ones with great dads or men who clean. They are becoming more numerous. This just happens to be one about great mums and I think that’s awesome. I never want my kids to buy into the prejudice surrounding our situation, nor any other like the colour of their skin. If they’re good enough to get to the Olympics, then they will get to the Olympics no matter what I’ll have to sacrifice to get them there. (For mine, university is considerably more likely – they WILL go there.)
Kudos Becca… that’s exactly how I viewed the ad as well. Single mom… for whatever reason and she did a beautiful job! Anyone thinking otherwise, can look to all the other 99% of commercials to help them feel validated.
Thank you 🙂
As an involved dad myself (3 boys, flight attendant spouse), I cannot like this post enough. Thank you!
THANK YOU for reading and commenting!
Those of us who have had fathers and who have brothers who are fathers and who have sons who are fathers thank you for your terrific post. I’m afraid that I partly agree with Matthew. Mostly it’s women who shop (and even they will buy the Gilettes).
What’s a rogue cheerio?
Thanks for your comment–an actual rogue cheerio is one of those strays that crunch under your feet in the kitchen or show up in the car. But metaphorically, for me rogue cheerios are those little spillovers from one part of my life to the other. And so I write about them here. Thanks so much for reading!
Yes, we have those little rogues here too. But in Australia ‘Cheerio’ used to mean goodbye, just as ‘G’day’ was slang for hello. The terms have fallen by the wayside. For one heart-stopping minute there, I thought you were reviving it. 🙂
They target who they believe is buying the products.
I understand and cop to that in my post. However, perhaps their market research is flawed? Maybe they didn’t realize that men are just as brand loyal as women? Thanks for reading!
I don’t generally notice maybe or care about things like this ad, but when I saw this one, for whatever reason, I was totally thinking, “Hey, where the hell ARE all the dads?” I coach my sons and daughter in tball and soccer. I also cook and do laundry and change nasty diapers! My wife and I both do what needs to get done. Anyway, I won’t rant other than to say, “Thanks for this!”
And THANK YOU for your comment. Sometimes it’s scary to think something unpopular out loud. But the more we think about the things we do for our children as things all parents do, maybe we’ll move past embedded gender stereotyping in the media. Thanks for reading!!
The purse strings are usually in the hands of the women. That is what P and G were alluding to. Men are along for the ride and do not like going shopping. When my wife wants something she buys it after asking for it and in the back of her mind she was going to get it anyway so my yes had little consequence but casual all right attachment.
Every relationship is different. In our house, there are no proverbial purse strings. Thanks for your comment.
So true. Moms seem to get all the glory!
Yes, this has been on my mind for quite some time. There seems to be a large preference towards women in a lot of home and family products. And it is pretty clear that women do account for the majority of shopping. However, if a company were to make an ad portraying positive fathers, well, that would make one unique and convincing promotion to me.
And changing their ad content is unlikely to take away from their sales. It could be a boon for shifting cultural attitudes.
There IS a bone in the human body that responds to marketing stunts like this–the funny bone. I’m with you. When you educate yourself to the point that you don’t have to see what’s behind the marketing curtain, you can just FEEL it, you begin a lifetime of hitting the mute button whenever a commercial comes on. I personally have not heard or seen an ad since 2006, and I sleep so nice.
I’ll wager P&G’s decision to focus on moms was a strategic one banking on generations upon generations of nostalgia–the mom is still regarded by most to be the emotional epicenter of the household. Dads may be coming up behind–and I sure the hell am cheering them on–but a mom’s grateful tears as she finally receives the appreciation she’s labored so tirelessly without through all those years plucks society’s heartstrings like a mandolin.
They’ll catch on eventually. When just as many dads are seen shopping with their kids, nurturing their kids, and spending meaningful, one-on-one time with their kids in public (no soccer game chauffeuring doesn’t count), P&G and all their giant buddies will scramble to shoot commercials that will cash in on it. I’ll put money on it…they did.
I agree, I was raised by a single dad, and stuff like this has always kind-of weirded me out. It’s sad really.
Apparently you didn’t get the memo that dads are obsolete, so yesterday. (Sorry, I’m feeling snarky after watching this.) P&G was hoping you’d give them a pass. Shame on them!
as a man…i buy nothing for our house…my wife spoils me and im kinda incompetent
Every household does what works for them. I’m just pressing P&G to think about how households might work more broadly. Thanks for your comment.
THANK-YOU! Proctor & Gamble’s sexist advertising is aimed at who they think does the shopping for the family: the mom/wife/lady of the house.
Additionally, I would recommend shifting away from buying P&G products as they continue to test a huge amount of their products on animals & many of their products contain harsh chemicals with known negative side-effects.
As you can probably tell, I am not a fan of P&G!
MORE DADS CAMPAIGN
I was just telling my wife how crazy I thought these ads are. I suppose that’s the case in many families but it’s not the case in ours. I proudly served my country and have now returned to a home where my wife is a working mom and I have absolutely no problem being the best father I can be to our two children. I have an 8 year old and a 6 month old. That means baseball practice and diapers and I don’t think I’m doing anything out of the ordinary for fathers to do. Yet I’m tired of going to the grocery store and having strangers asking where mom is or asking me how I got stuck on mommy duty. Anyway, nice read and I suppose if the commercial had all fathers the moms would be up at arms. I also notice ads lean towards this extreme right before mother’s day and not so much before fathers day.
Thanks for your comments and for sharing the piece with your readers!
Reblogged this on Callejas Thinks and commented:
For those of you reading this blog for a while. It wasn’t that long ago that I was a stay at home dad. I’m back to work part time and loving my time in the work force as well as appreciating the flexibility of spending the bulk of my day with my children.
My wife and I are a partnership in every aspect of the word. Yet if you want to get technical she is the primary source of income for our family. That said: I’m the one at the grocery store actually buying the bread and everything else we might need in our home. Today for example it meant baby formula and OJ among other things.
I absolutely love this blog post I came across because this was exactly my thought when I saw this ad and similar ads before the 2012 summer olympics. “Where are all the Dads?” I for one think G is an amazing Mom but she’ll be the first to give me kudos for a job I don’t ever hesitate in diving head first into. I also know so many fathers that have really embraced fatherhood.
Now I don’t need an ad to honor me or other fathers I know but I would hope that taking on that job stops being mommy duty and is just regarded as great parenting regardless of sex. What are your thoughts on the subject. Yes I agree #thankyoumom but I believe #thankyoudad is just as necessary. Especially when unfortunately it almost takes being a little stubborn to fully take on the job.
I frequently annoy my family and friends with rants like this, but only because it’s true. Call me a social justice freak all you want, but people need to show stay at home fathers a little more respect. Father’s who take care of their children and clean and cook aren’t punchlines. They aren’t very uncommon either. And they deserve our respect just as much as mothers do.
Rant all you want to me! I could not be more disgusted when people ask me where my children are if I show up by myself. “Is he babysitting?” I always tell them he is parenting because he’s their parent.
I think about this kind of thing constantly when I see ads. People are surprised when they find out I know how to keep house, as if men are inherently incompetent at it. *Everyone* should know how to keep their household running, and I wish marketing had that kind of message.
Honestly, right? My husband is self sufficient because he’s a person. And as a person, he doesn’t expect me to cook his meals (I do cook many of them) or wash his clothes.
Yes you are right
Black, Asian, Arabs
Anything on this earth 🙂
With potential use of a diaper:-)
Reblogged this on lephaho.
Most products are marketed with white people in them. Does this stop people of other races from buying them? No. In the same way isn’t it possible to give dad’s a credit in an ad and woman will still buy the product? Can’t these people think out of the box?
I could not agree with you more. The population is diverse, right? You would never know it based on our advertising.
sorry bad grammar – women not woman!! eek!
Reblogged this on psfearlessmoms and commented:
Speaking as a Stay at Home Dad and Military Husband, I make ALL the purchasing decisions on a daily basis, and am solely responsible for everything in the house with the kids when my wife is deployed. Since becoming a SAHD, I’ve noticed the absence of Dads, or the absence of the portrayal of good parenting by dads quite a lot in ads, movies, and on TV. Being a military SAHD has it’s own additional stigmas. That said, I’m an emotional guy, so the ad did pull at my heartstrings for what it is…I got it. If the ad had shown all dads in the parent role, I’d be just as moved, but would also be disappointed that moms were not portrayed. What P&G isn’t doing is reflecting the modern family. I can’t recall any non-white people moms in the ad either.
The lack of non-white families is also frustrating! I appreciate that so many dads have responded to the post and appreciate your perspective!
I wonder the same thing every time I see these commercials. It would be nice to see more often in media fathers who aren’t either absent, abusive or completely clueless.
Reblogged this on Neets Notes and commented:
Very good point here. Where are all the fathers?
I think, if anything, you’re letting P & G and the advertising industry off a bit lightly on this one. When one advert uses outdated stereotypes, it’s likely to stand out and be poorly received, but these ads not only provide people with information about the product, but also information about how society works. Every day when we see other people interaction, on the street, in fiction, in advertising or in our own homes, we get an idea of what’s normal and acceptable in our society. Do we say hello to people on the street? Is it OK for men to walk hand in hand? Do we kiss on the cheek once, twice or not at all? These are cultural things. So too are the roles people play in households, and the frequency of this kind of advertising actually plays a role in shaping our society, as well as trying to sell shampoo into it.
I could not agree more! And this is what I struggled with writing the post. I know P&G is motivated by finances but their ad will unlikely sink their sales if they made choices that would represent modern families and modern society. Thanks for taking the time to comment!
congrats on being FP’d
It’s a very targeted, over-the-top advertisement……. attempting to stir up the positive emotions and feelings certain consumers might have about moms and everything they do to make us olympic champions. I feel this is a productive post for raising general questions, but IMHO you chose the wrong Madison-Cheesy-Crap advertisement.
That is fair. If I had more time during the day, I would do a content analysis of advertising on daytime television. I appreciate the comment, though!
Great post. But parenting roles aside, here’s another questions: does this ad actually make you want to go out and buy any of the P&G products? I understand the importance of branding and I guess this ad is supposed to make us “feel” a certain way towards the P&G brand, which in theory would translate to sales. But when it comes down to it, I’m not going to buy their products because of this commercial. It got me a little choked up I’ll admit, but when I’m in the store looking for toothpaste, I don’t think I’ll remember this commercial because there was no toothpaste in it. Perhaps it would have been more effective if P&G products could have subtly been included: the mom washing the hockey uniform with a Tide bottle in the background or something like that.
this is so real!! very true! 🙂 gr8 blog!
do check out my blog http://beyou2night.wordpress.com 🙂
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Most likely the Ads agency has a strong woman with no dad in her life, nor need to have a dad for her kids
Or P&G decision makers have the same.
Objectivelly; one would definitely put the Dad /Mom. Both I mean:-) together.
Another reason could be that diappers are usually purchased by Women ( 99% of the time; I promise I am part of the 1%.
So why the need to put a Dad?
May be the Dads are changing today and more involved ! So P%G has to really think about and includes some Dads stories !!!!!
Being said I do believe, mom dad, extended families member all should be
Included as kids future is only result of attention & strong bounding with familiy members, close friends and trainers 🙂
Ads should do more than focus on current targets emotions; they should inspire for better future, bring role models that are sustainable ( family , values stability) and it will make them a Lot more money:-)
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Thank you! Please enter the 21st Century, P&G!!! I’ll even settle for late-20th century!!
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