Dads are men. Dads are involved at home. Marketers, catch on or you are missing a big opportunity.
First a Quick Aside- After I had written this article, Tide went ahead with another brilliant spot for its Super Bowl Commercial: Joe Montana Miracle Stain! (although the ad is not relevant to my article, it was a great ad, and it helps my SEO to include it)
Ok. Now on to the article!
Men do laundry
While most polls and surveys of time use still show women do a majority of housework, it is clear to anyone who understands how surveys are conducted that, while real, the “chore gap” is exaggerated.
Some surveys, like the Americans Time Use Survey and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics do not include yard/car/home repair and other “men’s” chores at all, making the gender gap seem larger than it is (and even then, they only report a 1 hour difference per week once paid work and housework are both taken into account). I wrote about this is a prior FWF article, ‘These Chores Don’t Count”.
Others, like this Gallup poll and this survey from Clorox, only ask which spouse does “the majority of” a particular chore. Well, it may be true that around 2/3rds of the time, women do the majority of the laundry and grocery shopping, but most household chores are not a 100% 0% proposition. Even in a family in which the mom does most of the housework, I bet the dad does 30% or so.
But if you watch TV ads, you’d think men do absolutely nothing. In his Huffpo article, Brad Harrington discussed a 2010 marketing journal article that reviewed nearly 1400 advertisements targeted at men that aired during sports- and found that 0.1% of those ads showed men in a domestic role, 0.5% showed fathers with emotional connections to their children, and virtually none showed men in a positive family light.
Finally, a forward-thinking company is catching on.
However, we now have an extremely reliable indication that men must be doing a significant share of childcare, shopping and laundry. Tide laundry detergent is investing an awful lot into its latest ad campaign (ss Bobbi Fleckman says, “Money talks…” and well, you know the rest). There must be enough dads who shop/wash, or else they wouldn’t bother. (unless it’s just to deflect attention away from the fact that Tide is now commonly stolen and traded for drugs. Seriously)
What is curious to me is that despite being forward thinking about this issue (and I suspect they will reap financial rewards for doing so), they initially struggled to find the proper tone for their message.
Their first attempt, in my opinion, was patronizing and cringe-worthy. The campaign was called “Dad Mom” (as if a stay at home dad isn’t a real man and needs to be feminized into a variation of a mom). See for yourself:
This ad campaign drew proper criticism, but was still an eye-opener as it was the first laundry commercial featuring a dad that most have ever seen. While most youtube commenters howled that it was a dumb and patronizing portrayal of dads, one wisely said “cultural baby steps, people”.
To their credit, Tide quickly corrected much of the mistake. In the next spot, he’s now a stay-at-home-dad as opposed to a “dad mom”, and doing laundry is framed as problem solving and helping the family (they also added a cute daughter)
Tide & the NFL
Tide then went even further and entered an agreement with the strongest brand among American men- the National Football League. Really smart.
The first Tide & NFL commercial I saw featured the equipment manager for the NY Giants. It’s a cool commercial, and while it is clearly targeting men, it did not explicitly involve dads. See here:
Tide then hit a home run (sorry to mix sports metaphors), with this:
A dad is seen with his baby- both decked out in Oakland Raiders clothing. In a voice-over over adorable baby scenes, the dad explains:
“Tommy never chose his team- it was assigned to him
But while one day, he’ll be a gritty linebacker, for now he has sensitive skin
So we use Tide Clean and Gentle
It’s mild on Tommy’s skin, but it keeps his colors true[On screen: They’re not just colors. They’re your birthright]
That’s my Tide[On screen: My Tide: Tough on stains. Gentle on skin]”
How about that? A dad cares about the choice of laundry detergent and calls the product “my Tide” (as opposed to “my wife’s” or “our”), presumably because he does at least some of the laundry. He connects the product to a product feature (gentle on baby’s skin) and an aspirational image (upholding the family tradition of wearing the Silver and Black- the Raiders’ iconic team colors).
And (gasp) a man can do some housework and still be a manly football-loving man. He’s a dad who does laundry, not “dad mom” or “Mr. Mom*” or whatever other patronizing term people use.
Dads are men. Dads are involved at home. Marketers, catch on or you are missing a big opportunity. Forgive the pun, but the “Tide is turning”.
* By the way, please watch the trailer to Mr. Mom. It’s like a time machine to another era. We’ve come a long way as a society in 30 years.
Disclaimer- I have no relationship with Tide, and am not even a customer- frankly, I don’t do much laundry and we buy more eco-friendly detergents. This article is not an endorsement of the product, just utterly brilliant media analysis
What do you think about these commercials? media depictions of men? laundry? Let’s discuss in the comments section.