MARCH ’13 – Dads in Ads

Fatherhood Portrayed in the Media

By Jana Veldheer


Isn’t it funny how you never notice things, until you start noticing them?  Like, when you get a new car, and then all of a sudden you see the same new car everywhere you go?

For me, this happened with how the role of the father figure is portrayed in the media and throughout our culture in general. I never really noticed it before I started dating a single father. Diaper commercials, cleaning commercials, commercials for products that have typically and historically been targeted to wives and mothers, the father is seemingly absent, or if he is present, he is portrayed as the “typical American dad.”

What I mean by that is best put by writer Josh Lev in his article, “No More Dumb Old Dad: Changing The Bumbling Father Stereotype.” He writes, “There’s a movement under way among dads in America that’s changing what you see on TV. Across the country, more and more are fed up — and rising up against the stereotype of the inept, clueless father.” Lev’s piece appeared on’s in a special coverage section called “Dear Old Dad,” an in-depth look at fatherhood.

In his article, Lev interviews David Holland, who runs the Dadvocate Project blog. Holland tells Lev “during every commercial break, he says, he and his wife try to see who can be the first one to spot the idiot husband or father.”

In an opinion piece written by Joshua George titled “Father Stereotypes on TV,” George writes that “The father figure that became the model for nearly 20 years of fathers on TV was none other than Homer Simpson himself. The characteristics that define this particular type of TV dad are stupidity, laziness, uncooperative behavior, and general disrespect for their wife, children, and neighbors.”

While this show and many like it are funny, they do perpetuate a stereotype.

However, it seems that recently this stereotype might be changing. Father’s are being portrayed as primary caregivers and not just another bumbling Homer Simpson-esq man-child.

I for one know many fathers who do not fall into this stereotype, I am sure you do too. Check out a few of these commercials that are helping to buck tradition.

Let us know what you think, is the media really changing its stereotypical opinion of “dad?”

SUBARU: Cut The Cord

MY TIDE: Tide Dad

GOOGLE +: New Dad

DORITOS: Fashionista Dad

 HUGGIES: Easy Chair – Pro Dad Version

VW: Polo Dad


Any other fatherhood commercials we may have missed? Share your links below!

For additional reading on this topic check out the following links:

CNN: Dear Old Dad

No More Dumb Old Dad: Changing The Bumbling Father Stereotype

The Dadvocate Project

1,000 Caring Fathers Counter Media Stereotypes

Dumbing Down Dad: How Media Present Husbands, Fathers As Useless

The ManKind Project Journal: Ending a “Dad’s” Stereotype

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