Touching Super Bowl Ad Celebrates Dads


An adorable new ad that will premiere during the Super Bowl shows children of all ages uttering many fathers’ favorite word: Daddy.

The ad is a part of Dove Men+Care’s new “Real Strength” campaign, which, according to a press release, celebrates “the caring side of modern men.” A 60-second version of the ad was released online Monday, and a 30-second version will air during the big game to an audience of more than 110 million people, if the viewership is as big as last year.

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In the commercial, children call for daddy in a range of scenarios – from  a hungry toddler in his high chair to a teenager wiping off dad’s kiss on the cheek to a daughter jumping into dad’s arms in the pool. “We know that men today are embracing their caring roles more than ever, and that these experiences are fulfilling and strengthening them,” Jennifer Bremner, the Director of Marketing for Unilever, who owns Dove, said in the release. “This inspired us to share a film that shows what strength truly looks like today. Especially at a time when fans are overwhelmingly hearing about physical feats on the football field, we wanted men (and women) to hear at least one voice saying, ‘Care Makes a Man Stronger.’”

The spot is emblematic of a shift in the media portrayal of fathers, says Jim Lin, a vice president and digital strategist at Ketchum Public Relations in San Francisco, and the creator of The Busy Dad Blog . “For so long we’ve seen what I call the ‘bumbling, well-intentioned dad.’ He wants to be good with his kids but doesn’t know how to get anything done. The reality is that today, the bumbling dad isn’t the case anymore. Fathers, by choice and situation, have taken more hands-on roles and are more involved than they used to be.”

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John Kenny, head of planning for the Institute of Decision Making at the advertising agency Draftfcb, agrees that this new brand of dad ads is a definite trend. “American men today spend three times the number of hours per week with their kids than their dads did, so are having a huge impact on how they’re portrayed in culture and advertising,

Lin, a father of two who also helps raise his girlfriend’s three kids, says the fact that ads are finally getting dads right is born out of changing fatherhood, but also out of the fact that dads take more pride in their role. “When an ad doesn’t get it right, dads speak out,” he says. One example, he says, was a 2011 Huggies ad that said: “To prove Huggies diapers and wipes can handle anything, we put them to the toughest test imaginable: Dads, alone with their babies, in one house, for five days.” After a father collected 1,300 signatures in a petition against the ad’s portrayal of bumbling dads, Huggies changed the spot entirely.

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Debuting the ad during the Super Bowl speaks to just how many men can relate to Dove’s message, Lin says. “There’s a very high male viewership of the Super Bowl, and a lot of those men are fathers, and a lot of families are watching together,” he says. “It’s an appropriate forum because the ad shows the reality for a lot of men.  It depicts the spectrum of fathers — the guy who comes home from work at the end of a long day and the dad who plays with his kids in the playground. Fatherhood is a dynamic thing that will always be changing, and this ad respects the breadwinners and also the stay-at-home dads, the ones who teach their kids to ride a bike  and the ones who cook dinner.”

The ad will launch a campaign that will encourage fans to share photos of the dads in their lives on social media, using the hashtag #realstrength.

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