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Surprise: Dad Blogger Finds Most Ads Portray Dads Well After All

In Search of Outrage, He Finds Good Ads Actually Outnumber Bad 3 to 1

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A dad blogger in search of outrage about how dads are treated in ads has discovered to his surprise that most ads last year portrayed dads pretty well.

Zach Rosenberg, author of the 8bitdad.com blog, sifted through 140 ads showing dads that he'd seen on TV and were captured by iSpot.tv last year. "Dad bloggers often sit around in their secret online societies and discuss exactly how bad dads look in commercials," Mr. Rosenberg wrote. But when he methodically watched and evaluated the ads, he rated 60% of the ads "good" or "mostly good" in their portrayal of dads, and only 20% "bad" or "very bad." He rated the other 20% as "neutral."

What he now sees as a good year of dad ads in 2013 followed a bad one 2012, which brought ads he criticized ads from Sears, Clorox, Huggies, Hyundai, Oscar Mayer, Triaminic, Toyota and Doritos.

It's become conventional wisdom that dads are treated badly in ads, and surveys have shown that most dads don't think advertising treats them well.

At least part of the change, Mr. Rosenberg writes, comes from conscious efforts by such marketers as Kimberly-Clark Corp., the owner of Huggies, and Unilever to improve how they portray and deal with dads. Both were at the Dad 2.0 Summit last year, with Unilever's Dove Men + Care as title sponsor. And Dove followed up with an ad campaign featuring the Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade and the positive contributions of fathers.

Rosenberg still found some room to gripe, noting issues with ads from KFC and Robitussin last year and the continued omission of dads in Procter & Gamble Co.'s latest "Proud Sponsor of Moms" ad this year.

So have ads actually changed or would a comprehensive look always have found portrayals of dads to be mostly positive? It's hard to say. For one thing, iSpot.tv, which Mr. Rosenberg used to find the ads for review, has only been around since mid-2012. But Mr. Rosenberg is already planning a "wider panel of judges" to evaluate 2014 offerings.

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