gender-roles

The hot new advertising demographic: 'Man-sumers'

Dec. 6, 2012 at 2:37 PM ET

Times are a-changing, and so is who is changing the diapers. Advertisers have finally woken up and started to retool their messaging to match this big social trend.

For instance, a recent Huggies ad showed dads carrying their babies in Bjorn-like front carriers and putting their babies' diapers to a "bouncy stress test." For the first time ever in 66 years, Tide Detergent featured not a mom, but a dad, doing the laundry in its commercial. Dads also anchored recent commercials for Clorox and Swiffer.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows men reporting doing 16 minutes of housework a day in 2011. That's an eight-minute increase from 2003, when they reported doing only three minutes. The trend has been accelerating for decades, with men doing 50 percent more housework today than they did in 1965.

The advertising messages spotlighting dads doing housework reflect a huge shift in cultural perceptions of gender roles. But just because you see it on TV doesn't mean that it's entirely true, or that the literal message is the one the advertiser is really trying to get across.

Donny Deutsch, chairman of advertising company Deutsch Inc., told TODAY this morning that in these ads, "You're seeing an idealized version of a trend. They're not as much marketing to men as marketing to women an idealized version of men. They're still targeting women in the ad.

"You see the dad in the ad serving Cheerios. He's still not the primary buyer of those Cheerios," said Deutsch. "Two-thirds of the time it's still women."

Related: Pastel pens, pink cars: Why products 'for her' annoy instead of entice

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