Dad, the New Maternal?
We do a fair amount of work here figuring out the “archetype” of various brands and categories. It is fascinating work. I was introduced to it by Procter & Gamble when it owned Folger’s coffee. It seems the archetype of coffee is “Home,” as in “Mom’s in the kitchen and all’s right with the world.” The signal that cues us we’re getting it the aroma wafting upstairs and waking us kindly, gently up. Thus, when P&G wanted to make sure that we’d notice Folger’s advertising, it reversed the archetype. The mom’s in the bedroom, sound asleep. Young soldier comes home on leave, comes into the kitchen and makes the coffee. The aroma drifts purposely upstairs. Mom awakens and mouths the words to herself, “He’s home.” Whoosh, wonderfully memorable advertising, plucking at the strings of our hearts. Nicely done.
We’re wondering though what happens when archetypes themselves are reversed. By the culture. Mom is no longer routinely in the kitchen. The new norm evolves. Sometimes these new norms collide. We are discombobulated. Suddenly, the emerging archetype is dad as mom. We see toilet training commercials, with the dad firmly in charge, both of the process and the laundry. We see dads wading in on the best dishwashing detergent. We see dads driving the kids around to do chores. We see wonderful, handy dads building seemingly endless treehouses. Characters in our television shows and movies embody a soft focus dadness cum old school momity. In short, we are awash in nurturing dads. Dad World used to be the bastion of Idiot Dad, the goofus who puts the warm and toasty waffle to his cheek to help him administer to his head cold, or brings home the cheaper brand and knows nearly immediately he had to go back to the store. And that guy is still around, but New Guy is coming.
Good thing? Bad thing? Who knows? The point is the core archetypes have been around since people first made up myths to explain inexplicable reality. It means something when our myths move.