You’ve seen the commercials: A gentle dad with a beard is handed a baby. He looks slightly nervous than he uses (Insert product here) to help him get a handle on his daddy duties. The music swells, Dad and baby both pass out on the couch as Mom comes through the door and smiles. Good job you goof. You kept our child alive while I went out for the first time in months. Welcome to the wonderful world of “Dadvertising.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking Dadvertising. On the contrary, I’m a fan. After all, Dude to Dad looks like an uglier version of most of the men in these commercials. My beard is weaker, my merino sweater has more pills. I’m appreciative that the culture at large has accepted that Dads are part of this child-rearing thing, so I’ll happily sit back and let Amazon and Mastercard market to me between episodes of whatever show I’m currently binging on Hulu. I’m determined to do my fair share of parenting and if their products can help… I’d like to know about it.
And yet when I look around my son’s nursery or stroll through my neighborhood pharmacy, I can’t help but think that Dadvertising still has a way to go. It’s all well and good for giant companies to throw a few marketing dollars towards bearded dudes rocking papooses, but the baby gear industry as a whole is still very mom-focused. Moms on diaper packaging, moms pushing strollers, moms using snot suckers. The message is clear. Dad is a doofus who needs the Amazon Echo to help him raise a baby. Mom will do the real parenting.
Thanks to Fatherly I was recently invited to attend an event celebrating the Mamaroo — a baby seat manufactured by, wait for it, 4Moms. You can watch my misadventures in the video above. I was the only man at the event (except for the CEO. That’s right, the CEO of 4Moms is a man… don’t everyone break your keyboards writing that thinkpiece all at once) and I felt it. Trust me, men, you would have loved this event. The food was bomb and I even got to ride in a giant version of a baby seat. Plus, who doesn’t like a gift bag?
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I’m not naive. Women still do the majority of caring for baby. I’m sure marketing agencies have run the numbers. I’m not suggesting we completely re-invent baby packaging for men. There would be too many dark colors. But this is a sign that men still have a lot to do to change the culture around parenting. I should not be the only man at a Mamaroo launch event. What’s more manly than a robotic chair that rocks you to sleep? I think I speak for all dads when I say we want to know about that shit!
Until then, I’ll be doing my duty as Dude to Dad – attending mom events and eating the majority of the mini frittatas.