Four years ago, at the Beijing Olympic Games, Procter & Gamble’s ad campaign was “Proud Spstickonsor of Moms.” I complained loud and long about that one—how leaving dads out in such a glaring way was insulting and demeaning.
Now they’re back, and are ramping up their insulting, demeaning message a few notches. P&G’s campaign for the upcoming London Summer Olympics? “Thank you, Mom.” Excuse me? Only mom? Again? Really? How ’bout “Thank you, Mom and Dad.” Apparently not. As far as P&G is concerned, dads simply don’t exist.
Frankly, I’ve had enough. I’ve spent more than 15 years looking at—and critiquing—advertisers’ portrayals of fathers, and like most dads, I find that the majority of advertising is rather irrelevant to me. But there’s a difference between creating ads that are irrelevant and creating ads that completely deny that fathers exist. (Even Jif peanut butter, famous for their “Choosy Mothers Choose Jif” slogan, occasionally proclaims that “Choosy Mothers and Fathers Choose Jif.”) As a single dad, I do all the shopping for my family and I’ve spent a lot of money on P&G brands over the years. But as far as I’m concerned, P&G no longer exists. I’m taking my wallet elsewhere.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s no question, moms should be thanked. They do a lot. But when it comes to sports, research shows that dads play the primary role in sparking and instilling interest. Dads encourage their children and coach the teams. And dads are usually the ones who spend hours doing the physical practice: They pitch, swim, skate, kick, run, jump, and everything else to help their child gain the proficiency and edge—along with self confidence and resilience in the face of defeat—that every elite athlete needs to succeed.
Plenty of moms do the same, of course. But P&G already acknowledges all the hard work that moms put in. So why leave dad out?
Moms and dads each contribute different—yet equally important—things to their children’s development. One study, for example, found that children—boys and girls—whose fathers encouraged them in sports did better in school and had more successful careers later in life. And both moms and dads are striving to give their children the very best.
I have an MBA and understand quite well that women still account for the majority of household spending. But not 100 percent. Not even close. And with more and more men taking on a greater role at home—and doing a greater share of the shopping—the importance of dads as consumers is increasing steadily.
Earlier this year, Chris Routly, a stay-at-home dad in Pennsylvania, started a petition to encourage Huggies to end their “Ultimate Test: Dads” campaign, which a lot of fathers and plenty of mothers) found offensive. Huggies had the good sense to immediately respond and they’ve reworked the campaign to make it much more dad-friendly. Huggies clearly understands that dads account for a growing share of household spending and they understand that positive images build brand loyalty. Other companies, such as Volkswagen, have created campaigns that acknowledge dads, not only as consumers, but as caring, loving parents.
So here’s the message to P&G: This is the 21st century. Today’s dads are involved at every stage of our children’s lives. Ignoring us as parents is insulting. And alienating us as consumers isn’t good for business.
If you agree—and I hope you do—please sign the petition at http://tinyurl.com/P-G-IncludeDadsPetition and urge Procter & Gamble to acknowledge the vital role dads everywhere play in our children’s lives.