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Last year right around this time, we conducted a webinar, (click here to view) “The New Deal on Today’s Dads.”

We discussed the latest stats…

  • 290,000 children cared for by stay-at-home dads;
  • 24% of preschoolers are regularly cared for by their dads (full-time and part-time);
  • 1.7 million single dads with children under 18.

We shared five ways in which dads differ today - they are more:

  1. Involved than any cohort before them.
  2. Likely to identify with the role of fatherhood than dads of the past.
  3. Diverse than previous generations.
  4. Likely to seek out information on parenting than in the past.
  5. Likely to purchase products for the home than in the past).

Finally, we provided some “dos” and “don’ts” to help you speak to their needs and show their authentic experiences.

A year later, we wanted to take stock of what’s changed even in the short time that’s passed since we presented…

  • Dad ads have been held to a higher standard. It used to be that simply including a dad in a diaper ad would get you a lot of credit. But Huggies learned the hard way that today’s dads don’t just want to be shown, they want to be respected. When Huggies suggested that the ultimate torture test for their product was a day with dad, papas protested. As Heather Chaet suggests in a recent AdWeek article, the “doofus dad” might be doomed. Now comes the hard part – getting serious about exploring dad insights…How will you get it done?
  • Cliché’d dad humor has been deemed not so funny. James Poniewozik of Time recently wrote a column called “Daddy Issues? What’s so funny about men taking care of babies?” In it, he suggests that TV might be out of touch with the true lives of today’s dads – particularly when it comes to that modern classic joke: man with a baby carrier strapped to him. He notes the appearance of this bit in the pilots for upcoming shows Guys with Kids and Baby Daddy. It might be hard to blame them for coasting on the coattails of the Hangover (we can’t say that we ever tire of seeing Zach Galifinakis with a Baby Bjorn bound to him). But as Poniewozik suggests, this jocular jab at dads might be a bit weary. Yet all is not lost…Poniewozik gives props to the creators of Modern Family, Louie and Up All Night and upcoming Lifetime docudrama The Week The Women Went (in which the wives of blue collar workers leave their husbands for seven days while they take a realty-TV mandated vacation) for not only treating pops like people, but also introducing some fresh new father jokes. It’s not that dads aren’t funny – it’s just that dad jibes should be better.  
  • The modern dad has been mainstreamed. We noted that Pampers was already doing a great job recognizing dads through promotions and events designed to honor and inform them. But just because fatherhood is mainstreamed, it doesn’t mean all dads take the same approach. Like chic moms who fight the good fight against suburban malaise, Hipster Dad refuses to retreat into regular-ness just because he’s a dad. (Check out his interview with Honest Toddler here.) And speaking of keeping up with the times, more and more two-dad households have gotten attention in the past year. JCPenney (rising to the occasion after protests over employing Ellen DeGeneres as their spokesperson) recently ran a Father’s Day-focused ad featuring real-life same-sex couple Todd Koch and Cooper Smith playing with their children. Oprah gave Neil Patrick Harris and partner, David Burtka, a chance to let the world into a day-in-the-life of their family with an OWN special devoted just to them.
  • Moms have emerged as a newly defined market! Finally, mom marketing hasn’t fallen to the wayside in the wake of a focus on fatherhood…Instead, mom promotions have sought to identify the specific role that mom plays in many families; and working moms have become a bit more complicated. With better depictions of stay-at-home dads come more complex female characters who are both ambitious and attentive to their kids at the same time. If the rules of masculinity are changing, so are tenets of femininity.

Perhaps this Father’s Day’s gifts to dads (and moms) is a promise – we’ll take a closer look at who you are in the upcoming year. Make sure you and your brand don’t forget!