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The Globe and Mail

No more dad jokes: Advertisers trying to re-brand the father figure

A new advertisement for Schick razors uses a made-up medical condition called “Becoming My Dad” to poke fun at embarrassing fathers. However, many other advertisers are moving away from this potentially tired stereotype, instead re-branding dad as competent and enthusiastic members of the household.


Have you lost your aversion to pleated khakis? Have your dance moves and your comprehension of technology gone down the toilet? You could have BMD.

The entirely made-up condition, which stands for "Becoming My Dad," is at the heart of a new Canadian campaign for Schick razors. A series of videos spoofs the type of medical ads that are rarely seen in Canada. The punchline is that buying a new razor – and not shaving the same way for years, like dad did – is the cure for BMD.

The videos – which feature young men unable to control their bad jokes, for example, or their affinity for $10 high-waisted jeans – are adequately funny. But they are also a risk for Energizer Personal Care, which owns the Schick brand.

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Making fun of dads has been a staple of advertising, many feel for far too long. Increasingly, advertisers have been recognizing the benefit of portraying fathers as enthusiastic, competent members of the household. The image of dad as embarrassing or inept is falling out of fashion as many consumers lose patience with the stereotype.

The list of advertisers giving dads a new brand is long.

Just last week, General Mills Canada released a sort of dad manifesto in an ad for Cheerios.

For Father's Day, Miller Lite chose a campaign that described dad as the best buddy a guy could hope for. Robinsons Juice in the U.K. used a similar message, with a twist – arguably creating the sweetest ad of last year.

Automotive brands including Hyundai, Volkswagen, and Subaru have given their safety messages an emotional boost by linking them to the protective role that fathers play with their children.

Tide has begun showing dads pulling their weight with domestic chores. Dove released an ad showing all the ways children need their fathers, asking "Isn't it time we celebrate dads?"

And Canadian Club refreshed its brand with the "Damn Right Your Dad Drank It" campaign, giving some cool factor to its status as your dad's drink.

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By contrast, Schick's positioning as "Not Your Dad's Razor" feels somewhat out of step. No one will argue that, especially as dads grow older, their dance moves and fashion sense can age as well; not always gracefully. But with so many others deciding to stop making dad the butt of the joke, it will be interesting to see how smoothly Schick's fake medicine goes down.

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