When we talk about what’s trending, most people think the conversation is going to be about new fashions strutting down the runway. Though knowing Pantone has deemed emerald green the new black for 2013 can be valuable, keeping an eye on trends is also about understanding the things that shape our society into what it is today. Trend following is an integral part of understanding our world, and it provides useful insights that can be worked into any advertiser’s marketing strategy. When trends in media and advertising are taken into account, you can increase the relevance of your images to your clients.
If you don’t follow trends (or don’t have kids of your own!), you might not have noticed how parenting has evolved as Generation X, or people in their mid-30s and 40s, have started having families. Although Mother’s Day has only just come and gone, we’re increasingly seeing trends in fatherhood, an area that has especially changed over time. Statistics seem to indicate today’s dads are more involved than the fathers of any other generation. Many see themselves as filling an important role not only as workers but in the domestic space, too: they’re involved both around the house and in raising the kids.
This new “daditude”, as USA Today calls it, is described as hands-on and involved. In a way, today’s dad is forging a new identity. These days, it’s cool for a father to be active and an integral part of his children’s lives. According to the Pew Research Center, 9 in 10 dads who live with a kid share a meal with their child daily, two-thirds say they help their children with homework at least several times a week, and 54% report taking the kids to and from activities several times a week.
The old view of a bumbling dad who makes dinner for breakfast, can hardly dress himself, and is clueless about domestic life is antiquated. In fact, dads as a consumer target are a wide-open field for advertising. Not taking note of this trend and the ways you can leverage it to create more appealing images can be detrimental to your business’s success.
For example, Huggies recently ran a commercial with the following voiceover: “To prove Huggies diapers and wipes can handle anything, we put them to the toughest test imaginable: dads alone with their babies in one house for 5 days.” Dad bloggers were outraged by the implication that they found their children difficult to care for and started petitions demanding Huggies pull the commercial. Huggies responded by reaching out to key influential fathers to solicit advice about making the company’s marketing more acceptable to them. In the end, they changed the voiceover—“To prove Huggies diapers can handle anything, we asked real dads to put them to the test… with their own babies, at nap time after a very full feeding.”
All of this raises questions about your creative targets and how your work might appeal to them. If you’re a lifestyle photographer, what does your dad look like? Are you capturing dad as an involved caregiver, or does he still look like the traditional breadwinner? Portraying dads with a hip blend of parenthood and masculinity might just be the very thing that gets you that big advertising job.
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