Brands are closing the gap between how fathers are portrayed, and how they want to be seen.

Disney is spearheading a new movement to ditch tired “dad” stereotypes, calling on brands to better reflect modern family structures and social dynamics.

“We shouldn’t just stereotype them, which I think as a generation we probably have done,” Disney’s UK chief marketing officer Anna Hill told The Drum. “We’ve gone through a big change in our generation: dads are becoming househusbands and the main caregivers. They are a source of protection, comfort, enthusiasm for their families. So I think it’s important for us that we tell new stories.”

The move is backed by a study on modern-day dads, which found the market is largely misrepresented in advertising and media. Interviews across the UK, Germany, Spain and Sweden revealed that families no longer relate to trope like the absent or overworked father figure. Instead, the study uncovered four key emotional drivers for dads: the desire to bond with, protect, help and entertain their children.

Brands that are embracing this change include Pantene, with their 2016 “Dad-do” Super Bowl campaign. The ad featured prominent NFL players styling their daughter’s hair and spending quality time with them. Oxo similarly challenged stereotypes by replacing the iconic Oxo mom with “The Oxo Dad” in a 2016 campaign. The move came after research groups expressed their disappointment with scenes of a mom doing all the cooking, writes The Guardian.


BBC One’s 2017 Christmas ad, featuring a dad and his daughter, has captured hearts since its release. The Supporting Act follows a single dad who helps his daughter complete the school talent show by dancing with her. The team behind the campaign were committed to producing a “real, not magical, interpretation of the UK,” using characters that showcased realistic relationships.


The generic image of fatherhood is even changing stock images. According to Getty Images, its most-downloaded images of fatherhood have shifted from a football-playing dad in 2007 to a father baking with his daughter in 2017. In the UK, the Advertising Standards Authority is even backing the movement up with new guidelines that restrict gender-based stereotypes in ads, which will come into play in 2018.

Our October report, The New Adulthood, explores the rise of the hands-on dad, particularly as millennials join the ranks of parenthood. As today’s parents continue to upend family structures and social dynamics, look for more representation of co-parenting and people choosing to have children later in life, according to Disney. Brands across categories can benefit from ditching the dad stereotypes, and better reflecting modern family dynamics.

Main image: Pantene