The bumbling dad, the one who struggles to perform at-home tasks or watch over the kids without issue, has been an on-screen stereotype since the first cell was fed into a projector. But the times are, thankfully, a-changin’. And Disney is taking a big step to throw this outdated idea of dads in the bin.
After discovering that fathers feel a disconnect between themselves and the lazy, outdated stereotypes of fathers they see in advertising and onscreen, Disney is looking to change its depiction of dads in its marketing and movies to better reflect the experience of modern fatherhood. The House of Mouse put together a study to examine how engaged and active modern fathers are as parents, as well as how dads feel about the way they are portrayed by the media.
The company spoke with 160 dads from the UK, Spain, Germany, and Sweden and found that across all ages, nationalities, and levels of education, dads are tired of seeing fathers in movies, TV shows, and commercials that are shown to be “hapless jokers who are overworked or absent.” The survey also found that dads have four primary aspirations that revolve around parenting: the desire to protect, bond with, equip, and entertain their children. These insights directly contradict the workaholic, incompetent dad still seen in many commercials and movies. Disney is working to change the way it depicts dads and is encouraging other companies to do the same.
“We’ve got to a position where we have realized the role of dads is really important and probably something that we needed to do a deeper dive into,” Disney’s UK chief marketing officer Anna Hill said in an interview with The Drum.
Historically, brands and companies have placed much more emphasis on accurate, nuanced portrayals of moms, since mothers were typically seen as more lucrative consumers. Dads have been mostly seen as afterthoughts who are less involved in family matters but recent trends have shown fathers to be more involved as parents than ever before, making them a more desirable demographic for companies to target.
For Disney, dads have never been more influential as consumers, especially given the popularity of Marvel and Star Wars, which kids say they are much more likely to discover through their dad than their mom. Hopefully, other companies will follow suit and realize that we are no longer living in the 50s and dads are every bit as involved as their female counterparts.