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"Dadvertising" has become massively popular with marketers in recent years as they try to tap the pride of dads getting more involved in childrearing and tug at the heartstrings of moms who like seeing touching moments of dads with kids.
But in a decided zag amid all the dad-back-patting zigs, Angel Soft and its new agency, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch, Los Angeles, are celebrating single moms in a video titled "Happy Father's Day, Mom," breaking today on Facebook and YouTube. In a series of sometimes tearful accounts, adults in the video recount how their moms had to take on the role of dad too, and wish them a happy Father's Day.
What does all this have to do with toilet paper? Single moms, like Angel Soft, have to be both soft and strong, the video points out. The new tagline for the brand, owned by Koch Industries' Georgia-Pacific, is "Be Soft. Be Strong."
"The toilet paper category has been very product-based," said Karen Costello, exec creative director at Deutsch. "All advertising has been about product attributes. Angel Soft wanted to disrupt the category and start to make an emotional connection with people by celebrating the humanity behind their product."
Softness and strength have always been the key product attributes in the category, Ms. Costello said, "so we loved this idea of taking ubiquitous category language to shine a light on those attributes in humans."
The campaign will focus on people who aren't often celebrated, including the "unsung heroes of parenting," Ms. Costello added. "We were talking to adults at our agency who were raised by single moms, and they mentioned that they celebrate their moms on Father's Day."
Ms. Costello and Todd Wingfield, senior brand manager for Angel Soft, said the brand has no intention of dissing dads by celebrating single moms on Father's Day.
"Absolutely not," Mr. Wingfield said. "We celebrate families in all forms, shapes and sizes. Our vision is that this is the first in a series of unique stories we'll be sharing. Dads also play an important role and exemplify those traits of being soft and strong every day."
Angel Soft's owners, the Koch family, are well known as supporters of conservative political candidates. And given the context of single mothers, critics may point to efforts of politicians backed by the Koch family to reduce or eliminate Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funding, government-subsidized daycare and health-care benefits used by single mothers.
But Georgia-Pacific spokeswoman Anna Umphress said she hopes that doesn't become an issue. "Koch Industries provides more than 60,000 American jobs, and Angel Soft is manufactured in the U.S. by hard-working men and women just like our consumers who buy our products," she said. "We see this as a broader celebration of families, which is what Georgia-Pacific and Angel Soft stand for."