McDonald’s ‘Playdate’ commercial plays with old dad stereotype

Can this really be what McDonald’s thinks of today’s modern father?mcdonalds2.png

In one of its latest ads, an “in over (his) head” dad apparently can’t handle a sleepover, nor manage to feed the girls while his wife is out of town — so he visits a McDonald’s.

Judging by reaction from dads on social media, the ad sends not only a message of insensitivity to fathers who supposedly can’t handle children nor prepare food, but it also inadvertently tells moms they’re the primary cooks in the home.

It’s another controversial approach for the fast food giant fresh off the heels of a similar contentious ad also involving fatherhood. Last May, it pulled a United Kingdom commercial after backlash from viewers who insisted it was insensitive to grief-stricken kids. In the ad, a grieving son hears how he and his late father shared a love of Filet-O-Fish sandwiches. McDonald’s promptly removed the ad after 150 people complained.

An email inquiry to the McDonald’s Media Relations Office went unreturned.

In today’s modern world where advertisers are increasingly evolving past “choosy moms” and “mother-approved” slogans, McDonald’s latest message trends backward.

Can’t dad handle a fun sleepover involving five adorably cute girls? Can’t dad manage to feed these girls without his wife being present? Is it necessary that dad needs to call his wife? What message does this ad send to all parents — that moms can be working women as long as they still maintain control at home?

Put another way, would McDonald’s ever run a similar ad with the roles reversed? Imagine the scenario:  a woman realizes she’s in way over her head when her daughter has four friends over for a sleepover and her husband is out of town, which means she has to feed and entertain a group of hyper little girls.

It’s highly unlikely that McDonald’s would go this route.

And that’s the moment you realize an old, timeworn, unfair stereotype has been employed — and you’ve insulted fathers (also your customers) everywhere.

It’s time for change, McDonald’s. Dads deserve better.

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Let’s fix it in a Jif-fy

Some say there isn’t any common sense in Washington, but dadmarketing would argue otherwise. The year was 1995 when the NBA’s Washington Bullets changed its nickname to the Wizards. Apparently then-team owner Abe Pollin decided the Bullets name carried violent overtones, especially in a city with a high homicide and crime rate. And apparently he was jifright.

One can certainly argue the eventual new name – how it hasn’t caught on, how it carries other negative undertoneshow it is a product of a fad at the times – but that would be missing the point. “Bullets” simply wasn’t appropriate anymore. It didn’t take the action of one owner to spur it along, because many realized it. The change was long overdue.

And then you have Jif Peanut Butter’s slogan: Choosy Moms Choose Jif.

It’s not just in Jif’s latest TV ad, it’s plastered all over their website, and it’s been a part of the brand for a long time.

I can hear people already (both moms and dads), because many of them spoke out when we discussed Kix’s outdated motto:

  • Chill out, it’s just a slogan.
  • Everyone has to be so “PC” nowadays.
  • Much ado about nothing.
  • There’s more important things to worry about.

We here at dadmarketing like to think of the Jif slogan as SWASFTSOI: Staying With A Slogan For The Sake Of It.

To explain further, imagine for a moment, that the United States government had a slogan before 1919 (like the Army’s “I Want You” slogan) which read, “Real men vote.” It might have been a decent slogan back in the day and worked well at the time, because after all, only men could vote then. However, let’s pretend they kept using that slogan to this very day, and we all saw it when we entered voting precincts. Of course, it would seem a tad outdated because we all know that women can vote, but wouldn’t it yet sting a little to both women and men? Wouldn’t it seem a little offensive? “Real men vote” wouldn’t take anything away from the fact that females could still walk in and exercise their right to vote, but it would just seem old, tired, antiquated – even silly and useless.

That’s all we’re saying about Jif. We get the fact it’s your long-standing company slogan/brand/wordmark, but it’s time to move on and find some other way to market your product (which tastes good, by the way). Change with the times. Jif is like the Washington Redskins of sandwich spreads: an entity that refuses to change out of stubbornness. Their attitude could also be filed under the dreaded, this is the way we’ve always done it.

And yes, Jif, we’ve noticed the latest add-on to your TV commercial which states audibly, though not in print, “Choosy moms and dads choose Jif!” This hardly solves the problem. In fact, it exacerbates it. It’s kind of like saying, “Gosh, I barely notice that huge wart on your nose.” It makes the slogan even more old-fashioned laughable, drawing attention to the fact that Jif has excluded dads for years, if not decades.

It’s the same way that your local high school has had the embarrassing nickname “Lady Bears” for all of its girls sports teams? Why not just “Bears” for both genders, or at least “Gentlemen Bears” for consistency? Ugh. Another topic, another time.

So Jif, let’s get down to business and fix it, the right way, once and for all. Show moms and dads that common sense is alive and well. Dads mean a lot to you, right?

Let’s hope so, because dads have a choice in what peanut butter to buy, and choosy dads choose ________________.