Friday, August 3, 2012

Should Dads Be Mad At Procter & Gamble For Sponsoring Moms?

Procter & Gamble Sponsor Moms, Not Dads
Unless you've been hiding under a rock and avoiding television altogether, you have probably seen the Procter & Gamble "Proud Sponsor Of Moms" campaign that is running with the Olympic coverage.  These ads actually started running back around Mother's Day, and I was very hopeful that dads would get their own version of the ad for Father's Day the next month. June came and went, and there was no mention of Olympic dads, except for a small commercial by Gillette (a P&G brand) that didn't get nearly the play that the "Moms" ad did (FYI: There was a blog campaign that some of my fellow bloggers participated in that went along with it).  So, with the games nearly over, I am not expecting to see any new advertising.  As a father, should I be mad at Procter & Gamble for their "Proud Sponsor of Moms" campaign and the way they seemingly ignore the influence of fathers on Olympic athletes?

I love moms!

My answer to the question above is complicated at best.  Am I mad that P&G is proud to sponsor moms?  Well, no.  There are a lot of awesome moms out there.  I couldn't do what I do without my wife being an awesome mother.  I guess what I'm saying is that I love moms!

A lot of the guys who are ranting about this commercial are also at-home dads, and I guess they feel kind of slighted because we see moms doing things in these commercials that we do on a daily basis, and we think, "What about us?".  But let's remember guys, the fact that P&G chooses to sponsor moms does not automatically mean that they are anti-dad.  In fact, P&G typically leads the way when it comes to gender equality in advertising.  Do I have to remind you that brands like Pampers, Tide, and Vicks/Nyquil are brands that we have praised in the past for their dad-featuring efforts?

"Mom" is a global message that everyone can identify with.  We like to tout our progressive ideas here in the U.S.A. but the truth is, a lot of the world still lives under what we would call "archaic" stereotypes.  For the majority of the world, dad does the bread-winning and mom does the nurturing.  So, for a brand like P&G to pick mom for an international branding campaign is not that surprising.  (To read the exact quotes from P&G and their ad agency, check out this article by Lisa Dawson on the advertising site Adotas)

But I also love dads.

Do I wish that there was a commercial featuring dads?  Of course I do.  Do I think that dads play an important role in the lives of their children? Absolutely.  Do I think that Olympic athletes only love their moms?  Of course not.  Do I think that moms were the only ones on the sidelines and dropping the kids off at practice?  Absolutely not.  I believe that some of the most inspirational stories of the games happen between athletes and their fathers.  Check some of these out.

Hufington Post recently ran a slideshow of Olympic athletes hugging their parents.

Photo Source: Huffington Post

Here is Apollo Ohno's emotional memory of his father encouraging him to get into speed skating and pushing him to become the best he could be.

And who could forget this moment from 1992 when runner Derek Redmond pulls a hamstring in the middle of a race and his father runs out onto the track to help him finish. (Thanks to @TheJackB for reminding me!)

So, Should Dads Be Mad At Procter & Gamble?

I don't think "mad" is the word I would use.  I think we're disappointed that we were not recognized.  But I also don't think we should ever want to be exalted at the expense of moms.  I think we should push for equal representation, but if we have to run over mom to get the recognition we're looking for, I think we have missed the point.

The point I think most of us are trying to argue with our soapboxes is that parenting, in the ideal scenario, should be a partnership between the adults who created or adopted their child(ren), and ideally, we would like to see commercials reflect that.  I don't think that getting mad and telling P&G that we are "pissed off" is a good way to get equal representation.  That just reminds me of my kid whining for more cookies when I already put them away.  Whining won't get us anywhere.

Moms have been viewed as the nurturing parent around the world for the better part of... well, ever, if we want to be honest.  We have more than a few decades of involvement to put under our belts before we can claim equal status.  Would it be a crime to ask for a little recognition along the way?  Not really.  But let's catch our flies with honey, and let's not trample over mom to get the recognition we're looking for.  Let mom have her recognition (which we all admit she deserves), and let's be sure to tell P&G that they sort of owe us a solid on the next campaign.  We want to see fatherhood portrayed in a good light because we believe we are good fathers.  Let's not give them any evidence to the contrary by whining about how they proudly support our partners.

What are your thoughts on the P&G campaign?  Do you agree with me?  Are you a little more ticked off than I am?  Why?  What were you surprised to hear at the discussion of this topic at last night's #DadChat (transcript here)?


  1. Matt, I'm not "mad" either - just irritated because they missed the opportunity that GE got so beautifully. Last night, I see yet another of the P&G "We Love Moms" ads but I also watch a BEAUTIFUL GE commercial about their innovative incubators. At the end, we see a mom lovingly hold her preemie for the first time. Right beside her is dad - loving his wife and loving his newborn daughter. RIGHT ON. I immediately tweeted about it and have already gotten direct feedback from GE. P&G, on the other hand, sent me a terse tweet touting that Gillette ad you mention in the column and declined my invitation to join #DadChat last night and offer their view, their defense. Both big companies. One did the right thing and gets a GOLD medal; the other shurks behind their poor preparation and doesn't medal at ALL!

  2. Actually, yes...I am mad... OK... perhaps bitter is a better word... but I am getting there towards mad. This is not the first time for this campaign, they did it two years ago as well, and I wrote about it back then.

  3. I don't think one commercial or marketing campaign means all that much. This particular one is not anti dad, its pro mom. While this particular series of commercials was run during what is likely a male dominated viewership, I believe that was done on purpose. I doubt many females don't know who P&G is or what they sell, but most sporting events that are televised are not generally packed full of advertisements of this particular nature. They likely took a gamble, and to be honest, they're getting their name out and about more this way than if they had done a male commercial, or none at all.

  4. I can very much see why people are frustrated by these. I am too. But I have to admit I've had a hard time being particularly outraged or offended.

    I'm disappointed by P&G campaign. A lot. Disappointed at the opportunity lost. Disappointed at their lame "but check out this dad razor commercial we did too!" response. Disappointed that so many people won't see a problem with these ads at all, because to do so would be seen as somehow devaluing moms.

    But when the whole "Huggies Thing" went down, a big part of why I felt it was SO bad, SO worth speaking out about, was that it WASN'T just one more time where dad is ignored or forgotten, or even a dumb dad character, easily justified as not being representative of all dads. Instead it was a blatant "Haha dads suck at parenting" deal. That was offensive. This doesn't feel offensive, just really disappointing.

    I think the whole "Where's Dad?" phenomenon is worth calling out, whether it's P&G or Amazon Mom or whoever. But I think I'm having a hard time figuring out how to do so without coming across like I'm equating a lack of dads (or unnecessary focus on moms) as being the same as actually insulting dads.

  5. I am not angry just tired of watching them ignore fathers. We have significant influence in every single area of parenting not to mention real purchasing power. It is time for them to acknowledge this.

  6. I agree with TheJoshuaWilner I am so tired of the way we get ignored. Why couldn't the advert have been the proud sponsor of parents? It is something that I get saddened by as a parent but also as the parent of a special needs child. The father is often completely ignored and it gets annoying and frustrating as well as disappointing at times, especially when it is by Doctors/clinicians and in the media.
    I play a huge part in my daughters' lives (I have 3, the youngest has special needs) and I can't go out and work because I care full time for my daughter's special needs along with my wife. If we both weren't part of this role then it would be a nightmare.
    I have noticed the same kind of attitude with a lot of the blogging circles as well with regards to Mom's or Mothers' this and that. I think there are some fantastic mothers in this world and they do a wonderful job but so do a lot of fathers, especially when there are those who walk away from their responsibilities at times as well. So I think we deserve a little recognition and we do deserve to be acknowledged by the media. I spoke about feeling ignored in my post on my blog here

  7. Matt,

    I have to say this one leaves me mixed but I really think Proctor & Gamble missed an opportunity. The ads make perfect sense from a Mother's Day timing or something, however, it just seems a but odd how clear the message is for moms only when you are watching athletes be supported by a variety of family when the actual Olympics are on TV, especially since so many of us are watching as families. That seems striking to me. I'm not sure its something to be outraged by but it is something that people notice and not in a good way.

    Thanks for the video of the 1992 track... that truly brought tears. And for me that Olympic spirit of giving it your all is top of mind. Beautiful and lord help the guys on the track who were trying to keep dad at bay... he was getting to his son.


  8. Lance @NYC Dads GroupAugust 4, 2012 at 9:58 PM

    Yes, I agree, "disappointed" is a good fit for what I'm feeling. Missed an opportunity? - yes. marginalized the role of dad? - yes. do many of the moms that have seen the barrage of commercials feel like it stereotypes/trivializes role of mother? - yes. We liked this piece by Kristin Maschka: and were inspired by so much of the chatter on blogosphere and a gentle nudge from my wife to partner on this petition:

  9. At the very least, I think P&G should've done a few DADS versions of these. They easily could have done a 4 moms to 1 dads ratio to at least suggest that dad's matter.

    Women's accomplishments & abilities went unrecognized for a long time. Now on the homefront it appears we are in that position. Together, over time, I believe we can change that. Thanks for the great post!

  10. Some companies "get it" and some just don't. I hope that all of the voices coming forth sound like a call for change to P&G and not just like whiny kids that got ignored.

  11. It's funny how two years later, with a different agency, they come up with the SAME campaign. If you're angry enough, there's a link to a petition in one of the comments below.

  12. I will disagree with you on a few points. I do think marketing matters. Why? Because it is so pervasive. We get marketed to all the time. Some people begin to believe marketing, even imitating it, in some cases. For example, think of the Bud campaigns in the 90's with the "Whasssup?" or the "Bud. Wise. Er." frogs. The collective IQ of the nation reduced about ten points with those two campaigns alone. We may not imitate these ads directly, but we can sure see the message - P&G values mom for her buying power, so much so that they are willing to exclude every dad that may be a potential customer. And that is not a message that I want my children to receive. Secondly, I believe that the Olympics are actually watched by more women than men. I forget where I heard that stat, but I'm like 85% certain. What would P&G have to gain by showing a pro-mom commercial to a male dominated audience? I agree that they are getting their name out there, but is it in the best light? Probably not. I think they missed a big opportunity.

  13. Almost forgot, thanks for stopping in! I do appreciate the comments.

  14. Thanks, Chris. I really liked the video you shared on my FB page. It's a great example of how it could have been done much better. And I agree, this was not a direct insult as much as it was them ignoring the fact that we exist while celebrating our partners.

  15. Thanks, Josh. I'm just glad we have social media and the web to help hold them accountable.

  16. Ha! Thanks, Janice.

  17. Hey, Lance, thanks for the link to the petition. I hope my readers will take the time to sign it. Keep on dadding!

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