Saturday, September 08, 2007

Fathers are parents too

Did you see the article by Madhukar Sabnavis in Agency FAQs titled "Of parenting and children"? If not, do read it. Very interesting and insightful.

I have a few related points to make.

There are a bunch of human relationships that exist all around us that we never reflect in advertising. One example that I have spoken of to my colleagues is the relationship between a married woman and her mother. Now Madhukar has raised the point about a father and his children.

All father-kid interactions are meant to be about playing. Presumably that is all he does, while the mother focuses on the kid's homework, discipline and other essentials. Hard to believe this. Especially since I am a teaching parent and I know a few others who are.
Conversely I know a few indulgent mothers too. So why do we propagate this myth?

And how many other types of relationships can we think of that are not reflected in advertising?

Talking of myths, I also like the way that Madhukar has spoken of the four types of mothers using characters from Indian mythology. Isn't it amazing that we can neatly capture the most modern and latest trends using characters from an epic written a few thousand years ago? Shows the importance of mythology in our lives. We learn it while we were babies and so never quite forget it.

So are there good stereotypes for fathers in our mythology? It seems difficult to think of any young fathers. It seems that men are too busy being heroes while they are in their youth or middle age. Only when they become old do they become proud fathers. Can any of you think of a good role model of younger fathers?



8 comments:

narendra shenoy said...

I have racked my brain (such as it is) and haven't been able to come up with any kind of realistic stereotypes for dads in our mythology - indeed, any kind of mythology.

Actually, most of our generation have a tremendously formal relationship with the male parent. The whisky is hidden, the language goes up a few notches in formality, the 'bahu' chooses the sari or the salwar suit instead of the capri and short top, when dad drops in for a short stay.

In sharp contradistinction (I love using big words - that one has 17 letters - because of the impression of erudition it carries, as opposed to actually being erudite) the relationship that dads of our generation have with their children border on the patronizing. The children patronizing the adult, that is. The male parent is usually a spent force when it comes to disciplinary matters. I'm making sweeping generalizations, I guess. Some of you reading this will say, sotto voce, "Speak for yourself, wimp. My wife and kids tremble when I roar!" If that is so, please autograph my T shirt and send me your correspondence course on Parenting by Terror.

As I was saying, kids usually adopt the didactic tone instead of the other way around, instructing with painful patience the minutiae of CS (which is "Counter Strike", the game, and not "Company Secretary", the career option) to the doofus who, had he not been the provider of the necessary chromosomes, would have been unworthy of attention.
"Dad, how did you get to be in your position in life - you are such a clot" might be a typical sentence in most Mumbai households today. May be some advertising could be based on this insight.

PS. My apologies for rambling on, but its Sunday morning and I'm pretending to be hard at work answering important mails, to dodge the draft in the War Against Disorder that is waged in our homestead every Sunday.

shilpa said...

coming to think of it, this i so true. im trying really really hard,cant seem to find any references(assumption here ofcourse is that I know MY mythology ;-)).truth is dads being men are well.....best at beaming as the proud parent as the kid(s) excel at their chosen fields.also can't resist the temptation to ask"why is every opinion just the perspective of an advertising professional?" surely there's more to this discussion than how best is this subject of relationships dealt with in advertising .

from the title it seemed to me, that the blog would echo the sentiment of all those fathers suffering from a persecution complex( this doesnt apply to suman though,iknow him enough!)hello....anyone there?

samshri said...

ok. do you guys remember the bajaj hoodibaba commercial?

the one in which the kid misses the school trip to the lighthouse and his dad then takes him there on his bike and viola! he reaches the kid before the school bus.

it was based on the insight that most 10 year olds believe that their father is a superhero, capable of mighty deeds.

so there... but yeah, very few of these commercials around...

manish said...

Talking of fathers and their role definitions, I think there are enough stereotypes in advertising. I am taking insurance sector as an example, where fatherhood somehow is more celebrated and gains more importance than the mother (for once!)

The giver: remember the LIC commercial where Mrs. Sharma, a widow, just got over with her daughter’s marriage and explains how she could execute her responsibilities (read marriage of her daughter, her studies and the loan of the house) because her husband did all the things (LIC) right, so that the dependent family could take care of themselves. Clearly it elaborates the breadwinner stereotype of the father.


The concerned father: HDFC children’s plan commercial is a testimony to that . (the daughter wins half the scholarship for studies abroad and wonders how she would make it without the other half. The father comes to the rescue as he has been investing on the plan). Clearly, he is the pillar/ ladder for the success of the child.



The friend: AVIVA little master plan commercial paints the picture of the current generation. (It shows various slices of life where the son and the father are discussing of what the son wants to be in future – pilot, chef, gardener, hero or cricketer). It is an interesting take on the father letting the child be as against what he would like the child to be.

While roles have changed , so have relationships and mythologically, we have quite a few example (think of Dashrath’s treatment to Ram VS dhritrastra and duryodhan’s relationship as opposed to Ravan who backed his son indrajeet in all his doing- right or wrong!)

Would love to hear your viewpoints

manish said...

Talking of fathers and their role definitions, I think there are enough stereotypes in advertising. I am taking insurance sector as an example, where fatherhood somehow is more celebrated and gains more importance than the mother (for once!)

The giver: remember the LIC commercial where Mrs. Sharma, a widow, just got over with her daughter’s marriage and explains how she could execute her responsibilities (read marriage of her daughter, her studies and the loan of the house) because her husband did all the things (LIC) right, so that the dependent family could take care of themselves. Clearly it elaborates the breadwinner stereotype of the father.


The concerned father: HDFC children’s plan commercial is a testimony to that . (the daughter wins half the scholarship for studies abroad and wonders how she would make it without the other half. The father comes to the rescue as he has been investing on the plan). Clearly, he is the pillar/ ladder for the success of the child.



The friend: AVIVA little master plan commercial paints the picture of the current generation. (It shows various slices of life where the son and the father are discussing of what the son wants to be in future – pilot, chef, gardener, hero or cricketer). It is an interesting take on the father letting the child be as against what he would like the child to be.

While roles have changed , so have relationships and mythologically, we have quite a few example (think of Dashrath’s treatment to Ram VS dhritrastra and duryodhan’s relationship as opposed to Ravan who backed his son indrajeet in all his doing- right or wrong!)

Would love to hear your viewpoints

sujit said...

Hi,
Society expects men to play certain roles,as the chief provider and protector of the family, while the mom is the nurturer.but our family structure itself is undergoing a subtle change with women being in the fore front of the economy and also starting independent families as single moms.
So where does that leave men and the traditional parenting role?
Think the future belongs to men who are not insecure about womens's economic success and are willing to invest time in bringing up children.

This will bring about new demographics that will cause marketers to think differently.

samshri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
samshri said...

most commercials, which have the father playing the lead across categories, have really shown him as a pillar, a silent pillar at times.

the lowe bajaj commercial was different in this aspect as it showed the father 'actively' achieving something for his son, making him a true hero.

cut to another lowe-maruti esteem commercial where the son urges his dad to take a drive to divert his attention away from his son's modest performance at school. another passive daddy!

even in mythology, fathers have not done too well. dhritrastra was blind, blind to his sons' misadventures & dashrath, he committed so many mistakes in his early years (bumping off sravan kumar, letting kaikai be his charioteer and savior) that he paid for his follies later in life.

ravan made his son indrajit fight until death even though his son advised him against the battle as his yagna had been interrupted.

come to think of it, advertising has done quite a good job of projecting the father as the giver / breadwinner than even mythology!

but will they form a compelling appeal? who knows, maybe some day!