“Dadverstising.” Chances are if you tuned into this year’s super bowl, you’ve experienced it. This year, companies spent millions to get an opportunity to pull at people’s heartstrings rather than to make jokes in the hopes of getting viewers to laugh. In the aftermath of this year’s emotional ads, some TV news outlets wondered if companies had received ”Please Include Heartwarming Dad Stuff” memos, as there was a significant increase in the amount of emotional advertisements about dads.
The trade off for more somber, emotional ads was criticized by some, but for others the change was met with praise. It was an invitation from companies to reminisce on times with our fathers and to share these memories on social media. An excuse for the super bowl audiences to reflect on what and who matters most. Whether it was sharing #oneboldchoice that their dad inspired or dad’s recalling a time of #realstrength, these commercials encouraged us to be personable and inspired us to be real.
When 6:00pm rolls around on Super Bowl Sunday you’re feeling good, getting excited and often surrounded by your friends and family. You’re ready to laugh. You’re wondering just how far Go Daddy is going to push the envelope, how adorable the baby in e-trade commercial is going to be and how Doritos is going to convince us to go out and buy another bag of chips. You’re not expecting to be overcome by emotions or have your eyes well up with water. However, this year that’s exactly what these advertising agencies did to us, and instead of using dads as the bunt of many jokes, they used them to help stir up emotions.
Do you recall the controversy surrounding the 2012 Huggies commercial that depicted Dad’s as clueless and out of touch with how to change their baby’s diaper? The ad reinforced stereotypes of times when men had never changed a diaper. The advertisement led to extreme backlash and a viral online petition, “We’re Dad Huggies. Not Dummies.” This commercial was a perfect example of how advertisers made jokes at the expense of dads, exaggerating many existing stereotypes.
Commercials that make jokes at the expense of dads may allow organizations to connect with consumers momentarily through laughter, but they do not allow for them to build real authentic connections with audiences on a deeper level. These advertisements are misrepresenting how influential, how important and how big of a role fathers play in their children’s lives.
This year, advertisers must have caught on to how emotional advertisements can help them better connect to their audiences. The laughter of a child after being spun around by their father or a teary eyed daughter whispering the word, “dad”, while dancing at her wedding invoked raw emotion and allowed viewers to think of a moment that they could relate. The incorporation of a unique hashtag allowed users to share their feelings on their social media platforms and see what exactly what makes a man strong. By the looks of twitter feeds on the days after February 1st, Dove’s commercial got to people.
However, Dove wasn’t the only one that connected with audiences by incorporating memories of fathers. In my opinion, Toyota played with emotions by reminding us of all the times our fathers made bold choices when we couldn’t make such choices for ourselves. And how these actions eventually were encouraged us to make our own bold choices. Many of us can think of a time of when our fathers or guardians served as our dancing partner when we’ve had no one else, showed us right from wrong and the first time they gave us the space to make our own decisions. Even despite my heat racing and pre-occupied mind as to whether the Patriots where going to win, this commercial hit me and inspired me to text my own dad. Even in the midst of a nail biting super bowl, I couldn’t help but want to tell my dad how all of his bold decisions have given me the courage to make some of my own. Even though, I personally didn’t elect to share my feelings via social media, it was comforting and inspiring to read about other’s viewer’s feelings towards their fathers.
So hats off to this year’s super bowl commercials (except the NationWide Ads) for taking the time to recognize all the good dad’s do for us kids. And thanks for giving us the opportunity to connect with others on social media by reflecting on that #Oneboldchoice dad made and helping dad’s remember what #realstrength really means. Even despite the craziness of Superbowl 49, you managed to connect with us on a deeper level and left us with something much more than laughter.