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Tylenol’s new ad campaign looks beyond the traditional family.

Television viewers are by now used to the Tylenol slogan urging them to "Get back to normal, whatever your normal is." Now, the brand is extending that sentiment to the kind of family it decided to portray in its latest ad.

Looking forward to its biggest season, when winter chills bring cold and flu ills, Tylenol Canada has launched a new campaign for its Cold, Cough & Flu line. In the ad, created by agency J. Walter Thompson Canada, a man who clearly lives on his own prepares for a special visitor by vacuuming, putting the toilet seat down, and putting on a nice shirt. (And, fighting sickness, he goes to the medicine cabinet so he can be in good shape for the arrival.) When the doorbell rings, he opens it not to see a date at the door, but his ex-wife dropping off their young daughter, smiling and saying, "Thanks for covering." He smiles warmly, replies, "Of course," and hugs the little girl.

While featuring a harmonious divorced couple should not be revolutionary, given how common such co-parenting families have become, it is unusual for an advertiser: conventional nuclear families have long been a mainstay in ads, a lazy shorthand for "normal" happiness that marketers hope will easily translate, and not distract viewers, while they're trying to sell stuff.

Although Tylenol's tweaking to this family portrait is small on its own, it's part of a trend. Marketers have been responding to a larger shift in sentiment among their consumers, toward more diverse portrayals of families, including same-sex couples, interracial marriages, and in the case of General Mills Canada's Cheerios brand last year, love stories that span language barriers and physical disabilities too.

Furthermore, after years of using dads as the butt of every joke, brands have been waking up to the fact that many men and women alike found this childish doofus character less than funny. Brands including Hyundai, Volkswagen, Subaru, Tide, Dove, Miller Lite and Canadian Club have all released ads in recent years showing dads as loving, competent members of the family – a sadly low bar that far too many ads failed to meet in the past. A divorced dad who is both involved in his child's life and on good terms with his ex is an image not often seen in ads.

"In the development of this spot we focused on family, which is something many Canadians can relate to," said Tylenol brand manager Leslie Chan. "The spot reflects real world hurdles all parents have to work around. Being sick is really secondary to parenting."

"We wanted to create a modern spot that felt authentic and resonated with Canadians, by featuring a common if not traditional family dynamic that is not often seen in advertising," Ryan Spelliscy, senior vice-president and executive creative director at J. Walter Thompson Canada, said.

The spot will air nationwide in Canada until the end of March.