Where's All of the Gay Dad-vertising?
A future gay dad's observations (and worries) about mom-centric marketing.
Do you remember that beautiful commercial with the dads changing their baby's diaper and then the narrator says, "The only thing that's better than one dad, is two dads?"
No? Neither do I.
With mere days until I become a new dad, I have developed a newfound fascination with advertising about anything related to babies and being a parent. It's on an idle Wednesday night, while watching the latest episode of House Hunters International with my husband, when it happens; a laundry detergent commercial flashes across the screen. A parent is washing sheets while their newborn baby looks up at them and smiles. Suddenly, and uncontrollably, there's tears rolling down my face. I know that I may not be going through the same dramatic hormonal changes as our surrogate, but something is happening. It's at this moment when I realize that I might be transforming into a data point of a totally new demographic group: new parent. Or am I…?
Try listening closely to the hundreds of carefully crafted, parent-focused advertisements and there emerges a little bit of a trend:
"Only a mother knows when their baby isn't feeling well."
"Nothing is more important than a mother's touch."
"No one cares more about their baby than Mom does."
Grant (right) with his husband on their wedding day
Um, what about Dad? Doesn't Dad want what's best for baby? Isn't Dad's touch important? Why doesn't Dad know when their baby isn't feeling well? Does he not have that special forehead-thermometer superpower that can sense a fever?! Where are all of the adorable, pandering advertisements for dads?
Listen, I love my mom. She's the best. I wouldn't be where I am today without my mom. And she's going to be an incredible grandma to our child. And I know that there are a lot of other superstar moms out there, just like mine. But, there are also lots of dad superstars out there, too. And not just the dads that are cheering/coaching/jeering at their kid's athletic event. In our world, dads are going to be the ones taking their kids to the doctor, changing poopy diapers and teaching them all of the important Lady Gaga choreography. Okay, maybe the last one is just gay dads, but I think you get my point. If my child has to be subjected to hours of corporate advertising, the least they could do is beef up the dad-as-primary-caregiver content.
According to a 2017 Forbes article, the LGBTQ+ community's global purchasing power is over $3.7 billion (USD). And, as far as I know, all gay dads have to show for it is a couple JC Penny ads and the Campbell's Soup commercial where the two dads are feeding their child soup while doing Star Wars voices. It's a good start, but I want more. Like, a lot more.
But my argument really has nothing to do with economics; it's about wanting our child to grow up in a more inclusive society. I want our child to look at a billboard off the highway and say, "Daddy! Papa! That looks like our family!" I want our child to feel represented not just in the "Pride" section at our local alternative bookstore, but everywhere. I don't want our child to succumb to the constant messaging that every happy family has a mother at the centre. I don't want our child to feel that their family, the one with two dads, has a deficit. We don't. I want our child to see themselves, and their family, represented and accounted for. If I am truly going to be a part of this new marketing demographic, I think we deserve some commercials for our family, too.
And, a note to advertisers, a Gaga-themed baby commercial just makes sense.