On Modern Dads and Super Bowl Ads

Oct. 26, 2017
Toyota's dad ad highlighted evolving views on masculinity and fatherhood

The Patriots are Super Bowl Champions. Tom Brady won his fourth ring and another MVP. Julian Edelman and Malcolm Butler have gone to Disney World. 

But the real winner of Super Bowl Sunday might have been modern dads, thanks to a handful of commercials that tugged the heartstrings of America and flipped a gender stereotype on its head.  

Instead of returning to the man cave/cave man motifs, Dove, Toyota and Nissan all went the sentimental route with their dad ads. And, in doing so, they tapped into the modern dad movement that’s been gaining mainstream traction in recent years.

They’re advertisements, sure. But their messages reflect our evolving views on masculinity and the increased desire among dads to be breadwinners and caregivers.  

Try watching the children in this Dove Men+Care commercial -- from the boy on the monkey bars to the beautiful bride -- calling out to their dads without welling up.

We dare you to watch the proud dad in Toyota’s “One Bold Choice” commercial, there with his daughter as she journeys through life, without being as red-eyed as he is in the final shot.   


Emerging research has highlighted a trend toward more men wanting more active roles in child care and homelife as working moms and dual-earner families become increasingly common. 

Nearly three-quarters of fathers consider their responsibilities to be both caring for their children and earning money to meet their financial needs, according to research the Boston College Center for Work and Family.

Additional research has shown that fathers who are involved in their children’s lives early on tend to remain involved throughout their lives. What’s more, some studies have shown being an involved parent can have a positive impact on a man’s career.

Being a modern dad isn’t about trading in the briefcase for the diaper bag – they want to do both, but struggle with work-life balance.  Nearly 70 percent of BC’s survey respondents felt moms and dads should provide equal amounts of care, though nearly the same percentage admitted their spouse provides more care.

Although paid paternity leave is still uncommon in the United States, leading employers have begun adopting more progressive policies and plans to modernize federal parental leave policies would provide paid leave to new moms, dads and adoptive parents. Flex work arrangements are another way employers are helping dads achieve work-life integration.

Part of the struggle to juggle work and family responsibilities has been that corporate culture and national policies have been slow to catch up with modern views on fatherhood. But the times – like Super Bowl ads – are changing.

Could these Super Bowl ads be just the momentum dads need? Could they be the message that carries supporting our working fathers past the trendy tech firms to small and large businesses everywhere?

The Super Bowl may have just made being "there" for your kids more mainstream by assuming it already is. 

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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