Are We Not Men? Reaching New American Dads

Men, men, men, men, manly men, men, men… ooooh ooooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh.
Since including Charlie Sheen in my post immediately makes it popular, what better way to introduce the topic of marketing to men. In particular, new American dads.

MARKETERS:  There’s a new demographic out there… dads.  Wait, we’ve been marketing to dads for ages.  But today’s dad is a new, misrepresented character.  The women’s movement left a void at home, and dads stepped in to fill the gap.  Today’s dads contribute to every aspect of keeping a happy household and healthy children.  From changing diapers to shopping, today’s new household is driven by a partnership of mom and dad.  Dads who love their kids and treat their families as the top priority is gaining social acceptance, and gone are the days of traditional household values.

This panel was particularly interesting to me as I have a 15 month old daughter, my wife and I both work, and I’m more than familiar with changing diapers, waking up in the middle of the night, and day care drop offs. While I (and most men) enjoy fast cars, expensive clothes, and good scotch, 99% of what I see in GQ and Esquire isn’t relevant to me.  My buying decisions carry the weight of my family, and I am constantly looking through the lens of responsibility. I rarely interact with advertising that takes this into account.

How could advertising more effectively target me?

This is a challenging question which doesn’t yet have a clear answer. One key challenge is keeping it aspirational.  What do new age dads aspire to?  Fast cars and expensive suits are aspirational yet unrealistic.  For me, anything that presents itself as making my very full life easier is something I’ll listen to all day long.  Further, the ability for something to touch on impractical, aspirational qualities that bring practical value is the best of both worlds.

Toyota launched a YouTube campaign for the Sienna mini-van (aka Swagger Wagon).  8.5M views?  Not too shabby.  They realized that dad is the primary driver in the car buying decision and clearly targeted their campaign to 30-something parents including both mom and dad.  Their campaign worked hard at getting rid of the mini-van stigma carried by many dads.  Great message, great targeting. Let’s see more.

Overall, there is no magic bullet.  As we move forward, I just ask that you keep us in mind.  Us new age dads are making buying decisions in every area including the grocery store.  We are carrying the pocket books, we’re just smart enough not to blow them on Ferraris and women, like Charlie Sheen.

Many thanks to the presenters/moderators:

Craig Heimbuch (
Jason Avant (

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