P&G’s latest ad has insulted some dads. As part of their 2012 Olympic campaign, the global marketer has a tear-inducing ad that watches as a baby girl grows into an Olympic athlete, and recognizes mom for all her support. It’s a pretty typical ad supporting a significant campaign. And a good one, too. There’s plenty of pro-mom buzz.
Now a group at Care2 is angry about the omission of dad, and has launched a petition against P&G to address the issue. (Here’s the link if you want to read the petition and support it. I haven’t supported it, yet.)
I’ll admit, when I first saw the ad I my pro-dad pride kicked in. “What about her father?”, was one of my reactions. “Isn’t dad worthy of thanks?” But then I saw it again. Nowhere does the ad imply that mom is the only parent who could have done this, or that if dad were involved the child would be lucky enough to show up on time, let alone win Olympic gold.
Just because it’s pro-mom doesn’t make it anti-dad, and I think a petition takes it too far. As much as the petition wants us (and P&G) to know the stats behind dads and kids and athletic success, the ad doesn’t diminish the role of fathers. Pushing this ad into the agenda—appearing jealous of the attention mom gets—misses the more important point. Don’t reduce parenting to a gender war.
Unlike the recent Huggies controversy that used bumbling dads as the focus of the campaign, the only thing P&G does is not mention dad at all. Hardly “offensive”. Unfortunate, perhaps. The ad is not actually making fun of dad or belittling our contribution; the viewer is free to think whatever they want about dad (but I’d bet they don’t think about him at all). The ad is clearly for mom, about mom.
P&G figures that women (moms) purchase a large number of its products—I’m pretty sure they’d have some stats on it. This ad targets to them, and it makes its point without cheap “we’re better than dad” humour or “mom is so overworked” piousness. It doesn’t feed any story other than the value of a mom’s love and support, and that is okay.
I am all for standing up for the importance of dads, and challenging the stereotypes that perpetuate silly assumptions about our ability to parent; just read my Manifesto. But as parents, we also want to join in the celebration of great moms, as long as doing so doesn’t demean dad.
If this campaign evolves, and P&G uses old cliches and poor stereotypes, I will change my mind. But for now, we’re still good.
UPDATE: July 5, 2012
Take a look at the petition. Currently at 11% of it’s goal, some of the comments that support it are border on radical. Some people are seriously misguided about the difference between being marginalized vs not being the centre of attention, and what this means to society.