From Homer Simpson to Modern Family's Phil Dunphy, incompetent fathers are everywhere in the entertainment and media industries. Cheerios' new ad campaign wants to change that.
The commercial for Peanut Butter Cheerios depicts a father of four going about the morning routine while breaking the fourth wall in a way that reminded one Hot Air writer of Ferris Bueller and telling the audience why dads are so cool. The two minute ad shows Dad (that's his name, and he's proud of it) getting breakfast ready, getting his wife coffee, and encouraging and complimenting his kids. He's a fun dad, a competent dad, a goofy dad and still an authority figure.
"Being a dad isn't about breaking rules. It's about making them," Dad says.
Adweek praised the video for placing fatherhood in a positive light, saying "See, Dad doesn't have to be cool. He just has to be there. And not be a moron."
The new ad tries to reverse a trend in the media of portraying dads as generally useless, in the home and elsewhere. In 2012, Huggies diapers started a campaign called "Have Dad Put Huggies to the Test" to prove that Huggies diapers and wipes could help a bumbling father take care of his own child, even when he was completely distracted by a football game.
“How can you insult hundreds of thousands of dads, who serve as the primary caregiver, and in some cases, THE ONLY caregiver, to their children?” wrote John Taylor, a Virginia dad who writes the blog The DaddyYo Dude, in an open to letter to Huggies, according to the Washington Post.
Cheerios' dad is anything but bumbling. He smoothly moves from family member to family member, making sure they feel supported and cared for.
“Most of what I like (in the Cheerios video) is it promotes a different type of masculinity; he’s still playful, and that’s the major role you see of fathers in ads, but he’s doing things within the household,” Western Michigan University marketing professor Robert L.Harrison told the Toronto Star. He also noted that "men are typically shown as aloof and only concerned with outdoor pursuits."
"Why do I love the Cheerios commercial? In this commercial, everyone comes from a place of strength, even if it is silly strength at times. That is a socially positive message I can get behind," wrote father and Ask Your Dad author John Kinnear on LifetimeMoms.
Not everyone is pleased with the commercial. An article on Salon laments that dads are always the cool parents, making mom the lame one by default.
"You are suggesting that Mom is uptight. That Mom doesn’t have a sense of humor. Or that Mom doesn’t do dress-up. Or Mom would freak out if you ate Peanut Butter Cheerios," the article said.
Toronto parenting author and mother Kathy Buckworth agrees that the commercial isn't fair to moms. "I think it’s almost daring moms to be offended. Even if we don’t like the ad for any number of reasons, for example, dads do not tell hilarious jokes all of the time, we’re going to come across as this hard-core feminist mom,” she told The Star.