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Rise of ‘daddy bloggers’ affects advertisers’ portrayal of men

Published: Friday, March 29 2013 7:00 a.m. MDT

Thanks to “daddy bloggers,” advertisers are now loath to cast a stereotypically hapless father as the butt of jokes in advertisements for family-friendly goods like household cleaners and baby products. But is that necessarily a positive development?

“I remember the old days,” daddy blogger Matt Gross recalled Monday for The Atlantic, “when the only media dad was a bumbling dad, flummoxed by diapers, mystified by breakfast cereals, as incompetent at managing a household as his wife was hyper-efficient. … Lately I'm feeling nostalgic for those days when my ilk went unappreciated. For years, I think, we existed under the radar, one of the last untargeted demographics in America, roaming free across the land, able to ignore advertising messages written not for us but for our wives. We could make up our own minds about which diapers and cars to buy for our children, without the clutter of ad copy to distract and confuse us. We could smirk and roll our eyes at the hapless dads of sitcom TV, knowing with utmost certainty, ‘That's not us.’”

Like Gross, Theodore Ross blogs for the DadWagon website. Also writing Monday for The Atlantic, Ross echoed many of colleague Gross’s sentiments.

“I (fail) to see how an uptick in the marketing lying in wait for me as a father signals an elevation of my role in that regard,” Ross wrote. “Loitering in the playground with my little ones on a winter's day, surrounded by mothers, none of whom have failed, as I surely have, to prepare their offspring for the chill, or to have brought the moment's favored organic snack and plentiful sandbox toys, undoubtedly I'm still an imbecile. You can see it in their pitying and understanding gaze, the one that says with utter clarity, ‘you're doing it wrong.’ No ad campaign can change that, nor do I need it to. I'm as good a father as I can be on any given day, and a diaper ad, even one that does not condescend, is unlikely to alter that.”

The companion writings of Gross and Ross both responded to a February article in the New York Times. In that piece, Times staff writer Hannah Seligson laid out watershed moments in the brief history of daddy blogging — a burgeoning scene that was the main topic at the “Dad 2.0” conference in Houston from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2.

Seligson wrote, “(Daddy bloggers) are using their influence to change the way marketers portray them. … To put it another way, while the mom space is crowded with players, the dad space has room for more. So there is big money to be made, both by companies looking at fathers as consumers and by daddy bloggers looking to ride a wave of brand sponsorship just as mommy bloggers have.

“The 200 or so bloggers and media professionals (at Dad 2.0) were mainly in their 30s and 40s. They tended to wear well-fitting jeans, button-down shirts and blazers, and they were quick to whip out pictures of their children on their iPhones.”

Jamshid Ghazi Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at jaskar@desnews.com or 801-236-6051.

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