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persuasion notebook

Fathers don't always get the respect they deserve. Advertising is filled with images of dads as bumbling, idiotic, or generally useless.

At first, the latest ad from greeting card company American Greetings appears to follow that tradition. It shows actors invited to audition for the role of a dad in a commercial. When reading the scripts, the potential dads are shown as emotionally distant, out of touch, and incapable of performing the simple task of holding a crying toddler.

But thankfully, it has a twist. The actors are asked to go off-script and "do it the way your dad would have said it to you." The commercial clichés immediately fall away, and the men transform into supportive, caring figures who tell their "daughter" that they are here for her.

The commercial is a follow-up to the company's Mother's Day ad, in which people were interviewed for the "world's toughest job," only to discover that the brutal job description was the criteria for being a mom. It attracted more than 20 million views. American Greetings is clearly hoping for another hit.

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