Jeer old dad
When it comes to television advertising, it's open season on fathers
Mary Vallis, National Post
June 20, 2009
In commercial after commercial on TV, the image of the modern husband and father is one of the buffoon
-- trapped in a shed he built without doors, staring blankly at spilled juice, gorging on dog cookies until his
ever-capable wife comes to the rescue.
Such ads are a mainstay because they work: They make viewers laugh, and they sell. And, also, critics
argue, because such stereotyping remains socially acceptable.
"WASP men are the greatest target in advertising. The reason I say that is they are the only safe target in
advertising," said Terry O'Reilly of Pirate Toronto, a leading audio advertising firm, and host of The Age of
Persuasion, a CBC radio show.
"When you make fun of a white, Anglo-Saxon male, husband, dad, you don't get a single letter of
In his 30-year career in advertising, Mr. O'Reilly has never received a letter from anybody offended by the
gentle fun he pokes at dads.
But in an age when fathers are expected to take on a greater role at home--changing diapers and clipping
coupons, while also earning a paycheque -- portrayals of Dad as a bumbling fool are troubling to those
who would like to see more equality in the domestic realm.
"It's deeply sexist, but what's even more troubling is that it's invisible as a form of sexism," said Dr. Kerry
Daly, who runs the Fatherhood Involvement Research Alliance at the University of Guelph.