It’s a bit crushing, isn’t it? When your kids get older and you start to realize that you’re less of a necessity in their lives? It’s a moment that all fathers go through, one that is never more obvious then around the start of the school year when the capable mini people you’ve raised head out the door into another grade, to start another syllabus, to end the year so much older and smarter than they once were. It’s a beautiful thing, but difficult for dads nonetheless. A recent ad from HP nails this strong feeling with surprising grace.
The three-minute ad, part of HP’s “Reinvent Memories” campaign, shows a family on a hectic morning, prepping for the first day of school but focuses on the father reacting to his tween daughter. He gets ready for work; she preps for school and shoots him ugh glances when they use the mirror together; he takes her photo, she rolls her eyes. All the while, we see his reactions, the tiny winces he makes from being so obviously shunned by his little girl. He endures, tucking the photo – printed with an HP polaroid-like printer — into her lunch bag before they both go their separate ways and he passes her one more look. That evening, he wistfully lays in her bed with a snow globe, looks up to see that tacked to the top of her bunk are photos of the two of them at all stages of life, including the photo he printed that day.
Shut up. No, you’re crying.
The spot, highlighted by AdWeek, packs a lot of emotion into 180 seconds of footage. Most remarkably, however, is that it does so without any sort of big moments with the father and daughter. The true connection with a child of that age, it wisely recognizes, comes not from some big happy ending hug but from tiny moments of realization.
HP’s spot is by no means alone. Big brands are targeting dads in a big way, casting away the hapless stereotype for a far more realistic portrayal of modern fatherhood. No longer are dads shown bumbling about with laundry folding or cleanup while mom looks on with a knowing glance and her hands or her hips. Now, they’re shown as worthy contributors. Take a look at Cheerios’ “Best Dad” spot, Dove Men+Care’s #RealDadMoments campaign, or countless other options. Hell, since 2015, Superbowl commercials have explicitly targeted dads. What’s changing is the degree to which the ads resonate. The HP ad seems worthy of note because it hits its mark.
Now, is it because advertisers want men to buy their products? Of course. Previously, less than 7 percent of advertisements were aimed at men and stats show that fathers spend 15 percent more than mothers on household supplies and groceries per trip. But if that comes with a more aspirational image of the modern father — and more spots like this — well, that’s not a bad tradeoff.