Tide and their “Dad Mom”

Tide and their “Dad Mom”

See Update Below!

I saw this posted earlier today, and, like the person who posted it, I was really happy to see a commercial where an at-home dad (or any dad at all, frankly) is shown as a competent person, capable of taking care of things at home:

 

Pretty good, right?

I mean, yeah, the whole “haha he’s a dude yet he knows how to braid hair” thing is a little cheap, but it’s cute and pretty funny and I’d WAY rather see humor based on how good a guy is at something domestic or child-related than how he’s a bumbling buffoon, whose place in laundry commercials is only to be the guy who shrank or discolored something. Again.

So, in that vein, I want to make this really clear: I honestly believe that this commercial exists because someone (and very likely several “someones”) at Tide really is conscious that there are dads out there who care about doing their laundry well, and are trying to present at-home dads in a positive light. Maybe it’s just recognition of an untapped market-segment, rather than an attempt to be progressive as a company about parenting roles. I don’t know.

But I appreciate it. I really do.

Then I saw the name of the clip, as titled on YouTube by whoever at Tide (it was posted by Tide) does their social media: “Tide – My Tide TV Commercial – Dad Mom Short Version.”

Something didn’t feel right.

What the heck is a Dad Mom?

When I found the “long version” — or, rather than a longer version of the previous commercial, it appears to be a longer commercial as part of the same campaign — I got my answer, and was disheartened to find out that what I’d feared was true. Tide has decided to make “Dad Mom” the title of this new at-home dad ad campaign and character:

Seriously, Tide?

Dad Mom?

What’s wrong with just . . . Dad?

I know the whole Mr. Mom-sensitivity thing among us at-home dads can seem like a waste of outrage, and be written off as us getting upset over something silly and harmless. But can you imagine how insulted women would be if a company — any company — made a commercial that targeted or featured a working mom and called her “Mom Dad,” based on the idea that she was a mom but out every day working like a dad usually does? How she works every day at the office with all the dad dads? And how then the big joke at the end is that she makes a sound business decision as if she was (ha ha ha) a man?

It would never make the air. So why does this?

Look, I’m not calling for a Tide boycott, or anything of the sort. Like I said, I believe this was done with the best of intentions.

But when I watch these commercials, the prevailing feeling I can’t help but feel is “Aaaaaargh! They were so close!”

For the most part, I love the way this dad is presented in both commercials. He’s confident. He’s comfortable. He’s competent. He’s funny. He’s not taking himself overly seriously, but takes his job seriously. The line that being an at-home dad “means that while my wife works, I’m at home being awesome,” is, well, awesome.

So why completely emasculate him by suggesting that his proficiency with washing and folding his daughter’s clothes makes him in any way a mom? Why insult actual moms by suggesting that doing laundry is in any way, shape or form anywhere close to being a part of what makes them who they are?

Please, Tide . . . please think seriously about jettisoning the Dad Mom and the Mom Mom references in this advertising campaign.

UPDATE!

Tide recently released a new ad that is much, much better, and is a good signal that they are listening and trying to improve. Check it out.

Join the Discussion!
Agonistes says:

Do you see no value in traditional Mother / Father archetypes? Go to dad for a few bucks, or a car problem, or to teach you how to defend yourself.
Go to Mom for bake sales, hemming pants, and minor medical care.

I think the reason that Tide, as well as much of society still embraces the role reversal humor of Dad – Mom, is because on a very basic primal level, this sort of arrangement strikes us as peculiar. These roles were reinforced through society, psychology, and I’d say biology for many, many years.

In one respect, I think you’re just ahead of your time; I think this will generally become less of an issue if it becomes more common, and/or more visible. I think any group that deviates from social norms needs to desensitize their presence and practices to become accepted, and no longer thought of as peculiar. I think the homosexuals are a good example of this. They’ve become so visible over the last 40 years, that it’s normalized them in many ways.

I’d be interested to hear if you think there is a downside to a child growing up in a less conventional family arrangement. Much has been made of the problems associated with a largely absent, career driven father. Are there drawbacks to the reverse? If the vast majority of children grow up with the idea that “Dad works, and Mom cooks” or even “Dad is the primary breadwinner”, would kids raised to believe differently have a social disadvantage of sorts?

Chris says:

I would not say I see “no value” in those traditional archetypes, no. They’ve served a purpose (even if your examples are all, in my opinion, things that have no reason to be gender specific at all). But I would say their current value is overrated, their historical basis mostly irrelevant today, their time to be redefined long overdue, and their actual detriments long overlooked, yes. Particularly archetypes like “a guy that cares about laundry is not a real guy.”

Minimizing people and their perceived value, and limiting their opportunities to contribute based on their actual skills and abilities rather than the ones society has chosen for them? Not a value worth maintaining.

It’s not that I don’t understand that the idea of dad-as-primary-caregiver is still seen by many as being outside the social norms. But the things we see as “normal” today are far different than they were even 10 years ago, and that much more than 20, 50, 100, or 1000 years ago. Social norms change, constantly. Slowly sometimes, because people are so very very good at confusing “the ways things have been” for “the way things aught to be.” But when you end up on the other side of such a change — particularly one that is about freeing people from restricted roles and empowering them instead of limiting them — the people who denied it or fought it are the ones at the social disadvantage, not the people who embraced it. I believe that will be the case with this shift in parenting role archetypes just as it was with things like women voting and interracial marriage.

I am proud that my kids will grow up in a family where they are taught that they can be anything they want to be, and that someday if/when they have children of their own they won’t ever feel like their role in parenting need be defined by whether or not they have a Y chromosome.

Pamela Widmer says:

I agree with you completely! I hope you send your thoughts to Tide’s marketing team.