Procter & Gamble is Dissing Dads. Again. Seriously?

Dear Mr. Dad: About a year and a half ago, you wrote a column about Procter & Gamble’s “Thank You, Mom” campaign that ran during the summer Olympics. You correctly pointed out that P&G was completely ignoring dads and how important they are. I thought P&G had gotten the message, but in the run-up to this year’s winter Olympics, they’re running the very same campaign. What’s their problem?

A: You’re absolutely right. P&G’s campaign during the London Games (which, by the way, was just a tweak of the “Proud Sponsor of Moms” campaign they ran four years earlier, during the Beijing Games) is back. This time, it’s worse. Here’s why:

First, they’ve made the spots more tear-jerking than ever. Each one is a masterpiece. But each one also reinforces the message that mothers are the only parents who care about their children and encourage them to achieve great things.

Second, they seem to be going out of their way to slap dads in the face. Yes, moms deserve a ton of gratitude and thanks. But so do dads. How ‘bout a second campaign that thanks fathers? Or just “Thank you Mom and Dad”? Nope. P&G is doing everything they can to convince consumers that dads don’t exist.
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Political, anti-father correctness run amuck–the war on dads goes global

Take a look at the image to the left. It’s the cover of a popular British parenting guide that’s fully funded and distributed by the government. You’ll notice that the five adults on the cover are all women. Ah, excuse me. No dads? Hmmm. That’s annoying, but not terribly uncommon (I teach a class at a major hospital in San Francisco. The folders attendees get are imprinted with the words Women and Children’s Center and include zero images of men).

But what I find especially disturbing is that dads have been left out of the inside of the book as well. The book used to include dads. But they recently got a complaint–a single, solitary one–that the book might offend same-sex couples. So the word “dad” has been completely removed from the book. Gone.

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Don’t Moms Buy Everything? Ah, Nope.

Dear Mr. Dad: In last week’s column you complained that advertising ignores dads. As I understand it, moms make most purchasing decisions. Wouldn’t advertising to men alienate women? And why should advertisers spend money pitching to people who don’t buy anything?

A: You’ve raised three important issues here. Let’s go through them one at a time.

First, while mothers may make the majority of purchasing decisions, it’s not by much. Ninety percent of dad are involved in everyday buying decisions for their family. Forty percent do half or more of the household shopping every week. Single dads and at-home dads account for an even greater share, and those numbers are only going up, as the percentage of women who outearn their husbands also rises.

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P&G is Dissing Dads. Again. Please sign the petition!

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.

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