I love this new online Peanut Butter Cheerios commercial because my son has the same creepy horse mask and the first five seconds is literally like our house in the morning. Mainly, though, I love it because it doesn’t perpetuate the bumbling dad or know-it-all mom stereotypes we’ve grown accustomed to.
It used to be so clear. Ads told us over and over again that moms knew everything and dads were doofuses. Moms made the decisions—at home and at the grocery store—and dads hid in the garage, drinking beer with their buddies. But suddenly, we’ve seen a new generation of dads featured in commercials. They have tea parties with their kids, wear pink and do the laundry. Dads are cool. And being an involved dad is awesome.
Read more: Doofus dads: Are we biased against fathers?>
The Tumblr for Peanut Butter Cheerios’s #HowToDad has a Venn diagram which has “Awesome” on one side, “Responsible” on the other, and “Stay Here” in the overlapping part in the middle. It’s interesting to note that most dads want to see themselves somewhere between awesome and responsible.
It was just one short generation ago that dads weren’t portrayed in such a positive light—women ruled the home while the men made occasional appearances. We’ve since changed all that. Men have become more involved as parents (thanks, feminism!), and the payoff is huge—for men and women.
And as they become more involved in parenting they have also become more involved at the grocery store. In Marketing magazine, General Mills director of marketing Jason Doolan says that “43 percent of Canadian households now have a man as either the principal or co-grocery shopper, a number that’s doubled since 2008.”
General Mills wanted to give dads an anthem, and also a little extra incentive to buy their product by promoting #howtodad on various social media sites. They aren’t the first to trumpet the “new” kind of fatherhood, and as men become even more involved in parenting, they won’t be the last. Eventually, we may even see egalitarian parenting as the norm on TV.
Whether you like this commercial, or think it goes over the top, ditching the dumb dad trope is good for us all.