General Mills Canada knocked one out of the park with their commercial for Peanut Butter Cheerios that started airing this week.
In the commercial titled “How To Dad” by Toronto agency Tribal Worldwide, we see a dad. Owning it. Hard. Hashtag. Et cetera.
“The Cereal category is traditionally more of a health-oriented ‘Mom’ space – even though recent studies show that men do nearly half of the family’s grocery shopping, nothing in the Cereal aisle has ever truly spoken to Dads,” said General Mills Director of Marketing Jason Doolan in the press release. “We’ve set out to change that by celebrating what it means to be an awesome dad.”
Arguably, the only cereals that have typically spoken to men are ones that address heart disease – namely, Cheerios.
I don’t know much about the commercial treatment of dads in Canada. That’s why I turned to Canadian Dad Chris Read, who told me that “it’s definitely a better commercial than most. We just don’t have the negative dad vibe in most of our commercials.”
But the dad in the How To Dad spot isn’t just a role model for Canadian fathers – the fast-talking, got-it-together dad is well-scripted. But it’s natural. He’s happy to be a dad. He’s “proud of it – and all dads should be.”
These are some of my favorite lines from the commercial:
“We lead by example, we blow their minds.”
“Hot stuff comin’ through – the wife and the coffee.”
“Suggestion – that’s a boy [sliding son’s hat to the side], that’s a man [sliding son’s hat forward-facing].”
“When you’re a dad, hugs can be bear-hugs. But they can also be high-fives, fist-bumps and next-level handshakes.”
“Now, dadhood isn’t always easy. When a rule is broken, we’re the enforcement…but when a heart is broken, we’re the reinforcement.”
Worst line of the How to Dad commercial? “Because being a dad is awesome. Just like new Peanut Butter Cheerios … are awesome.” WOOF.
There had to be another way to wedge a product into such a great manifesto. Just having the dad walk around with the box was good enough for me. Brand recognition these days doesn’t need to be so heavy-handed.
Speaking of heavy-handed, the How to Dad video wants you to end up on HowToDad.ca (Canadian Internet!), a Tumblr posting all sorts of infographics and sharable content. Some of it is funny, loving and sweet (see below), some of it’s not. Had most of it been done by someone other than a company, you’d be seeing it on your Facebook wall right now. But it’s not all bad…
Aside from some heavy-handedness in the commercial, General Mills really did well. Dad’s manifesto teeters on the fence between inspiring and corny, but … dads, right? I’m OK with that.
Of course, not everyone else is. Hayley Krischer, a freelance writer, took offense in Salon.com in her piece “I hate when my husband tries to be a ‘cool dad,'” claiming the commercial makes moms look bad through implication: “When you define dad as the cool one, as the one who can get his hands ‘messy,’ you are firmly pigeonholing mom in her role as the lame one. You are suggesting that Mom is uptight. That Mom doesn’t have a sense of humor. Or that Mom doesn’t do dress-up. Or Mom would freak out if you ate Peanut Butter Cheerios.”
Editor’s Note: A version of this article previously ran on 8-Bit Dad.