What Do These Photos Say About Dads?

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then we’re all wasting a lot of time writing.

Take a look at the print ad copy around you. That’s right – go ahead, pick up a magazine.

Companies spend millions with ad agencies to promote something in order to sell, but the images arguably do more than the writing.

And that leads us to the curious use of dads in marketing. Fathers aren’t used very often to sell parenting products, but when they are, it’s not always in a glamorous light.

Check out this TV news story photo (right) which tried to use lighthearted humor while an expectant dad shopped for baby items, but instead made him look inept and clueless as if he didn’t know how to operate a baby wrap.

Look at this parenting story from a lunch meat maker, where a young child cowers and hides from a father that comes across as overpowering and cruel.

Here’s another of a dad-to-be that’s seen admonishing his expectant wife.

Or check out this one accompanied by a headline that questions dad’s ability to be left alone with the child. One can only assume the dad here is indulging in TV first while tending to his child second.

Each story was well-intentioned, but what does this type of imagery do for the institution of fatherhood? What messages are these sending to our children? To spouses? To teachers? To neighbors?

Marketing has a duty to sell, but how is it shaping society-at-large with images like these? At best, it’s motivating only half of the parenting duo and distancing everyone else from men, making them to be less appealing as consumers and legitimate parents.

The next time you see advertising directed to the parenting community, don’t look at the words – look at the photos and ask yourself if they’re showing dad’s best side.

Not all parents are moms

While it’s disappointing to find another lunch product maker ignoring dads as equally competent parents and shoppers, the latest exclusionary campaign – this time from Land O’Frost – hits dads landofrost7below the belt in a variety of ways. But you’ll have to look carefully for its greatest offense, which is buried beneath several gender-biased marketing methods.

No, it’s not the spinoff webpage section which uses its company name for a play-on-words covering everything related to parenthood, er, um, motherhoodlandomoms.com.landofrost2.jpg

It’s not the numerous web graphics which speak only to moms with language like, “Ah, mom life,” or definitions of “mom-ism.” Imagine the strange vibe a dad might get who visits landofrost.com or landomoms.com, and is repeatedly having to read that he’s a “mom,” which at the very minimum makes it clear with whom the company wishes to communicate.

It’s not social media posts, which landofrost6.pngsometimes awkwardly encourage both “moms and dads” to check out its tips and recipes at its one-gender-only named site.

It’s not even the problematic trademarked pledge above its logo that insists, “From our family to yours since 1958.” Keep in mind, this is a family company headed by three consecutive dads, who one can only assume wish for dads to be treated as important as anyone else. landofrost8.png

What’s really disappointing is how the one-and-only dad imagery found on the front page of landomoms.com reveals a dad shouting and pointing at a tiny child who’s cowering on the ground, in the corner (right). Don’t dads deserve a little better than this? Does Land O’Frost really want to use its only photo of a dad in a terribly negative light? It’s not that the story’s topic itself isn’t valid – it’s a helpful topic of interest for parents – it’s just that there should be a greater quantity and quality of dad images. It would be nice to see an equal mix of genders celebrating the good in parenting, rather than furthering negative, stereotypical imagery of dads who aren’t happy, engaged, nurturing and caring parents.

That really was never true long ago, and it certainly isn’t now.

Land O’Frost seems like a fine company with quality products and strong community involvement. We say celebrate all that is good and show the nation what its story represents: how it was founded and carried on by three wonderful fathers who remained devoted to their families for generations.

What do you say, Land O’Frost? It’s not just dads and moms who are watching – it’s the kids. A renewed approach to marketing will remind future generations that family matters, and that the motto above your logo isn’t merely words.