Fathers’ Day has always been about buying Dad a tie or aftershave, and letting him play golf in peace for the afternoon.  But in 2012, we might be saying goodbye to barbecues and hello to brunch because there’s a new dad in town.

This guy is the kind of father who sees taking care of his kids as a social badge of honor.  Society is warming up to their kind, who you might find enjoying a Daddy play date in the park on the weekend, or pushing a stroller in Target. At home, they might even be folding laundry or cooking breakfast – Parenting Magazine cites that 26% of Dads do all the grocery shopping and 22% do all the cooking.

Let’s face it though: some Dads found themselves here as a result of the recession. Men lost 4 million jobs in the man-cession – 2 million more than women since 2007 – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But once home, many dads were surprised that they actually liked being there – they found they were good at chores, raising kids, and taking care of their wives. Whether they are working or stay-at-home dads, men are finding their sensitive sides, discovering the emotional rewards of modern parenting, and dropping some of the traditional machismo that they were raised with.

This new class of fathers should give marketers a way to liven up the hum-drum routine of marketing Father’s Day. So, how should marketers cater to the “new dad” in 2012? Imagine what it would look like if they borrowed a lesson from Mother’s Day:

  • ·         What would happen if Dad was actually pampered, instead of being given a power tool? Imagine rewarding this new Dad with gifts like spa services like MAN-icures.
  • ·         Could restaurants get in on the action and host Daddy-Daughter dinners for more quality time on this special day?
  • ·         Could florists find a way to man-size flower arrangements, so that every dad would look forward to receiving that delivery?

Advertisers are already getting in on the new Dad action and using them to tug at our heartstrings in emotional spots, like:

  • ·         Google Plus’s recent commercial tells the endearing story of a first time dad who loses his cell phone containing all his baby pictures, but is relieved to find that he didn’t lose them at all – they were automatically stored in his Google Plus account. Time for a collective phew, right?

  • ·         Subaru gets the tears flowing in their ad called “Baby Driver” featuring a dad handing over the keys to the car to his daughter who he sees as a 7-year-old awkwardly behind the wheel promising to be careful.  (Interestingly, the father and daughter were not actors playing the part, but a real family.)

Let’s hope marketers pay attention in authentic and sincere ways because this year, this new type of dad deserves a new type of Father’s Day. Here are some findings from a study that Insight did for Spike TV about dads to support these suggestions for marketers, and for anyone looking to support Dad this year!:

 The “new” dad is a nurturing dad vs. the traditional, straight provider dad.  For New Dad, parenting is most important, for traditional dad, it was just one of a number of equally or even more important things in their life…


       88% of dads today say they feel emotionally connected to their kids, as opposed to 35% of traditional dads.

       89% of dads currently show open affection to their kids, as opposed to 34% of the traditional dad we grew up with…

       81% of dads today are available for their kids anytime they want them, as opposed to 34% of traditional dads.

       79% of dads now take time to have good conversations with their kids, as opposed to 34% of the traditional, ‘busy’ dad.

       68% of dads are confidantes for their kids, as opposed to 25% of traditional dads.

       77% of dads listen to their kids talk about their worries and problems as opposed to 29% before, when Moms took on much more of this activity.

       74% of dads seek to  be a shoulder to cry on for their kids, as opposed to 26% of traditional dads, who again, looked to Mom for this role.

       69% of “the new” dads drive their kids places, as opposed to 30% of traditional dads.

       63% of dads often watch their kids, as opposed to 18% of traditional dads.

–    42% of “new dads” stay home with sick kids vs. 11% of traditional dads

       55% of dads these days cook for their kids, up from 20%.

       60% of the new hands-on dads say they have an “excellent” relationship with their kids, as opposed to 38% of traditional dads.

       Interestingly, today’s very engaged dads are only 2% happier with their life overall than traditional dads — 42% and 40% respectively.

  “Fathers today expect more fulfillment even if they don’t know how to get it,” says Jen Drexler.  “Dads realize that for them, unlike for their own Dads, it’s now acceptable, or even preferable to be emotionally there for their kids.”


From Marketing and Gender Expert Jen Drexler of Insight Strategy Group



  1. Bruce Sallan (@BruceSallan)

    I love it…love that Subaru commercial and the safety one by VW who has gotten IT for a while. I’m proud to be part of the NEW DADS IN TOWN!

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