Chris Routly of Daddy Doctrines once again forces marketers to address outdated male stereotypes engendered by misguided ad campaigns and to reconsider dads’ real and vital roles in modern society.
Editor’s Note: Earlier this week, in an attempt at humor, Clorox ran an ad called “6 Mistakes New Dads Make.” To be fair, there are a lot more mistakes made by any new parent–parenting is a lifelong learning process. But the ad was more offensive than funny, and Chris Routly of Daddy Doctrines took exception. In 2012, Routly stumbled into becoming an “accidental activist” when he spearheaded the successful petitioning of a major diaper brand to revamp an offensive ad campaign, and has continued to engage with brands wanting to better reflect and connect with modern dads ever since. Jokes about a “Routly Scale” of outrage have even been adopted by certain dad blogger groups in which he participates. Below is the original post from Daddy Doctrines, and here is the report by CNN’s Josh Levs.
I get sent a lot of links to various and sundry incidents where a brand has stepped over the line when it comes to their depiction of fatherhood. Believe it or not, I post about very few of them.
But today a new article on the official Clorox webpage entitled “6 Mistakes New Dads Make” [*It has now been pulled, but here’s a Google cache version*] was brought to my attention, and I just can’t stay quiet about it.
It starts off with a bang:
Saying ‘No-no’ is not just for baby. Like dogs or other house pets, new Dads are filled with good intentions but lacking the judgment and fine motor skills to execute well. Here are a few dangerous no-nos new Dads might make, and some training tips.
No, you did not read that wrong.
Clorox — or some poor social media intern who, at this point used to work for Clorox — actually wrote those words. Dads are like dogs. Well-meaning, but dumb and unable to complete basic tasks.
It continues, listing these “mistakes new dads make,” which are, briefly, as follows:
- Forgetting to dress the baby in weather appropriate clothing
- Putting what clothing he remembers on backwards
- Using the TV as a babysitter while he enjoys a beer
- Forgetting to clean the baby
- Letting baby eat off floor
- Taking the baby to casinos
The post, unbelievably, expounds on these points, but you get the idea. Each of them is so stupid, there is no point in even addressing them specifically, but I will say many of us are already having a laugh about the casino thing. “Sorry, Routly, I would complain to Clorox about that thing, but I’m too busy betting on red. The baby LOVES it when I bet on red!”
Okay so, look, this isn’t some grand Clorox ad campaign. This isn’t the result of a whole bunch of marketing people putting their heads together about a great way to include dads, and failing spectacularly. It’s a dumb blog post (that is failing spectacularly at being funny, I assume), probably written by the same person who thinks that it’s funny to say things like “One thing teenage boys (and let’s be honest, teenage men) can’t seem to master is the tushy wipe.”.
But no matter who wrote it, and why, Clorox has its name on it, and Clorox needs to know that this sort of thing is Not Okay. It’s Not Okay on a new level that might actually make it qualify as a new strain of What-Where-You-Thinking disease.
I imagine that the post will be gone before long [*Update: It has now been pulled*]. But before it goes, please join me in letting Clorox know that we, the families who live here in the 21st century, expect better than this:
If anyone from Clorox is reading this, I want you to know why I feel like this is worth calling out, beyond just its obvious awfulness. And that reason is simple:
I know you know better.
I know you know better because I’ve seen the carefully crafted ads that you’ve produced that try to recognize dads as user of your products, who might be goofy, but at least aren’t idiots. I know you know better because I’ve seen you engage with some of the brightest voices in the dad-sphere on campaigns that seek to include dads into the picture in a positive way. I know you know better because you are a company made up of people who are moms and dads that know better what modern families look like.
So this isn’t about asking you to be something you’re not, or get on board with a way of thinking about dads that is foreign to you. It’s about asking to to live up to what and who you say you are.
Some time after the post was taken down, the official Clorox twitter account contacted me to say the following:
What do you think? Is this just an attempt to be funny that “may have gone too far”?
More importantly, with the offending post gone, what would you like to see Clorox do better in the future when it comes to dads (and men in general) in their marketing?
—for more on other Dumb Dumb Dad Ads, check out:
—for ads that got dads right, check out: