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China’s Shared Dad App Brings the Gig Economy to Parenting

There's a catch.


You can share Uber rides, you can share electric scooters… and now, in China, you can share fathers. Or at least that’s what one company promoted in an advertising campaign for their fake “dad-sharing” app.

Created by home furnishings company Oppein, the new WeChat mini app claimed to let people select their own father figure, choosing from options like “business type,” “soft guy type,” and “athletic type.”

The app was promoted with a five-minute video starring William, one of the shared dads who filled in for other dads who were too busy to be there for their kids by attending teacher conferences and even hospital stays. However, at the end of the advertisement, it’s revealed that the app doesn’t actually exist, as William realizes, “In this day and age you can share anything, but the love for your family can only be custom made.”

Oppein says that it came up with the campaign as a way to remind people of the importance of good parenting in light of the United Nations’ International Day of Families on May 15.

“If there really was a shared dad renting platform, you could find the perfect dad closest to you with the click of a button; but they would never be a true substitute because the world’s best dad will always be by your side,” Oppein wrote on Weibo. The company echoed that sentiment in a follow-up social media post: “Everything can be shared in this era, apart from family love.”

The app received mixed reactions, though, as people got fired up about the possibility of sharing something as personal as parents, arguing that it goes against China’s strong family values. Along with the backlash, Oppein may be in legal trouble, as well, for violating an advertising law that prohibits companies from promoting fake services.