Days Inn Canada Falls Short With New Dad Ad

I have been a part of the online dad community for a little over two years now. In that time, I have learned to value my contributions to my family and have become a far better and more attentive father because of it. I have also become more aware of the way fathers tend to be portrayed in the media and have even been fortunate enough to be a part of a community that is striving to, and has succeeded in, changing the dumb dad stereotype. In fact, according to a recent extensive study by 8 Bit Dad’s, Zach Rosenberg, fathers are being portrayed in a more engaged and positive light, more and more every year.

Unlike my American counterparts, however, it is extremely rare for me to see a commercial where the dad is being portrayed in a negative light. That changed this week after I saw the new commercial from Days Inn Canada. The commercial shows a sad child sitting alone in his room, wishing his father was there with him to read his bedtime story. It then cuts to the father, who is excitedly lounging alone in his hotel room, and sings the line, “And on the brighter side, dad’s watching mixed martial arts”. It gets worse from there but this is about the point in the commercial where I checked out and thought of a million different scenarios they could have gone with that would have made this commercial a viral sensation. First and foremost, why not have the dad reading to the kid over the internet and showing the love that I know most dads feel for their children. That would have been something I would have been proud to get behind and shared immediately. It would have even been enough to get my future business, at least once. And look, I’m all for Me-Time, as we all need it, but mixing it in with the sad child just made it look like the dad was happier outside the house than in it.

Not that fatherhood has ever been the way that the Al Bundy’s of the world would have you believe, but things are different now than they used to be. For a father to be a more engaged member of the overall household and child raising duties is not the exception anymore, it’s the norm. I’m sure Days Inn Canada thought this was harmless fun and others may see this as me being a whiny dad, but I think it’s important for them to know that it’s okay to go against the stereotype and to create a new mold.

What are thoughts on the commercial? I know we all see things differently, so please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

All this said, I would love to invite Days Inn Canada to have a conversation with us dads, so we can talk about what our version of fatherhood looks like for future commercials. In the meantime, I invite you to take a look at how the face of fatherhood has changed in just the last 1000 days. Video is courtesy of the folks at the Dad 2.0 Summit.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. Check out these posts from Buzz Bishop from DadCamp and Justin Connors from Life in 140.

17 replies
  1. Mitch
    Mitch says:

    This is another example of Advertising Agencies that think that dads can be bashed and don’t contribute to the raising of their children. Yet heaven help us if there was any bashing of a mom because she was working and the dad was staying at home raising the kids. In that case, the women would be working AND being the parent at night.

    I was really pissed off about the P&G ads during the olympics “celebrating moms” and their portrayal was that everyone got to the Olympics because of their moms and dads never played a role. Not that P&G cares but I will be very careful not to buy any of their products in the future.

    It’s time society started to give Dads credit for all they do for the family. Sure women are working too. Everyone is, and we all have a role in the household to fulfill so we can all be happy and healthy as a family.

  2. Jason
    Jason says:

    Sorry Chris, I don’t see the harm in this commercial. You probably wouldn’t be upset if it showed a mom enjoying some much needed time to herself. As a stay at home dad – who doesn’t get to go on business trips – I would kill to get some downtime. I don’t watch MMA, but if I did like it I wouldn’t be able to watch it at home until my kids are much older. As for getting to eat a hot meal that you enjoy, in your undies, on the bed, watching TV . . . awesome!!
    This commercial doesn’t hurt the image of dads at all. It starts off saying that he’d rather be at home with his kids. But since he can’t, he’s going to relax for a change and enjoy his time away. For me, that’s a dream come true.

    • Chris Read
      Chris Read says:

      Thanks for your comment, Jason. I will respectfully disagree, of course, as I think we are interpreting this ad differently and I can’t speak to how I would react as a mother because I am not one. I can say that I don’t like to see either side of the parenting equation portrayed in a negative light. I am definitely not saying that we should feel bad about needing downtime because we all need time to ourselves whether we have kids or not. My issue is that they make it look like the kid is really missing his dad and in the meantime, the dad looks happier than ever to be away. Difference of opinion, I guess.

      • Jason
        Jason says:

        I guess I’m just not seeing the “negative light” in THIS instance. There are plenty of truly awful portrayals of fathers in the media and that is reprehensible. I think, in THIS case, they are saying (and I’ve watched it again to make sure I’m seeing it the way I remember it) that since he can’t be there he should make the most of this opportunity.
        Putting on my detective hat, I can see that his kid loves and misses him. The lyrics tell me that he misses his kid and wishes they could be together. He’s obviously on a business trip to provide for his family. All the clues point to him being a good father.
        The commercial isn’t portraying him as stupid, lazy, cruel, or uncaring. Just as a dad who’s making the best of the situation he’s in.
        I agree the media doesn’t always paint dads with the nicest brush. I’m glad that they have started to show us as caring and nurturing parents who can do housework and child-rearing competently. I can’t – no matter how much I try – see this commercial as a backward step in that regard.
        This commercial however . . . .

        • Chris Read
          Chris Read says:

          Okay, I’ll start by agreeing on the Hyundai commercial, as it’s ridiculous and not the first they’ve made like that. On this one though, I guess we will have to agree to disagree on the way they laid it out. Thanks for the discussion!

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      Hey Jason – Being a dad to a 2.5 yo son that travels about two weeks a month, I would rather do nothing more than be at home with my son. Believe me when I tell you business travel gets old REAL quick. My days away often have me in meetings all day, dinner meetings and even entertaining clients in the evening, so I don’t even have the opportunity to Skype or in some cases call my son before he goes to bed. You don’t really understand how this affects you until you have it happen a number of times.

      I am still undecided how I feel about this commercial and how it ultimately portrays fathers. I think if you ask any father who is away from their kids for extended periods of time, they would argue that this commercial is a little inaccurate about how one feels in the hotel room isolated from their family. HOWEVER, I completely understand where you are coming from. We have annual guy trips where we stay in hotels and most dads (including myself) lay back and enjoy themselves for being away from all the hustle and bustle (which certainly includes family life).

      • Chris Read
        Chris Read says:

        Just to reiterate, I am not saying we shouldn’t appreciate our quiet time. I just think the cheesy music and sad kid make it look like the whole thing is a sarcastic joke.

    • Justin
      Justin says:

      I don’t think so. I think it is being very sarcastic about him wishing he could spend time with his son. Thus the cheesy Rock ballad lyrics. It’s like He would rather be doing this but… HE IS DOING SOMETHING AWESOME INSTEAD!!!! I am also a SAHD.

  3. Jason
    Jason says:

    I was telling my wife about this commercial and the comments about it. She wanted me to mention that next week, she’ll be staying at a Days Inn, eating dinner in her undies and watching TV. True Story.

    • Chris Read
      Chris Read says:

      Hey, I’ve done that exact thing with a whole pizza in the bed to myself. Like I said, I have no problem with enjoying “me-time”, it’s just the way they made the kid look sad and the dad happier than ever.

  4. Karen
    Karen says:

    I’m imagining my husband in that commercial and it makes me happy. He has been away from me and my son for a single night up until Brandon was 4 and for 9 nights when I took Brandon with me to Florida. That’s the sum total of the time alone he’s had in almost 6 years. I, however, have been away at least three times that amount. I don’t really see this as a dad portrayed in a negative light. The silly song gets across that the dad cares and his kid misses him. But the acting doesn’t really portray the kid being devastated by his father’s absence. As you say, it’s healthy for anyone to get a break. I think it’s also healthy to revel in it, which is how I took this ad. If the dad was portrayed as not being involved when he IS at home, this ad would definitely be very negative. But it’s clear he’s an involved father.

  5. Buzz Bishop
    Buzz Bishop says:

    Sure, it’s funny. Yes, parents enjoy time away from the kids. Problem is you don’t highlight that by showing a sad kid missing his dad who, frankly, doesn’t care.

    It’s “Dad as Doofus” and there’s better ways to do comedy than they did here.

  6. Brent P.
    Brent P. says:

    Having worked as a copywriter for thirty years now I can basically tell you that Dad is the hapless idiot in the family. He is typically portrayed as one who has little more cognitive power than the family dog. I can’t tell you why. However I know that agencies and clients are terrified of offending the “little woman”. The truth is there is nothing bordering on reality when advertisers and their clients decide to create a family. It is so irritating that even when you get pushed by the client to, “hey have some fun with the guy, give the audience a few laughs, what’s wrong with that?” Well nothing except stupidity doesn’t equate to humour. You’re laughing at a person who is mentally handicapped. There’s another word that kids like to use to describe a person who gets portrayed like Dad but we who work in media know enough to stay away from the word “retard”. I certainly wouldn’t but often Dad’s idiocy is the cherry on the top of the sundae. Dad is almost always portrayed as a “retard” and there’s no pressure from any quarter suggesting we do it differently. Never call him a “retard” but make sure that he is. That’s funny, right. Dad is almost always the comic relief in a commercial and as long as we don’t use the word, “retard”, we can make him as thick as two short planks.
    I really don’t get it because to characterize anybody the way Dads on TV are is hostile. Being able to write in a genuinely funny way is hard. Comedy is hard. But we in the ad business we have made a gross mistake, we’ve allowed our clients to convince us that stupid is funny. It’s not. And it’s not nice. This is not how I want kids to view their fathers. But since Dad has nobody in his corner, standing up for his rights, we get imbeciles to laugh at. We don’t get Dad’s who when I was growing up were worthy of respect. Who knows and who cares? They’re just ads and who really takes their cues from advertising? And that’s coming from a guy who’s written ads for thirty years.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Does the Days Inn Canada Dad really represent Canadian Dads? | Life in 140 | Justin Connors says:

    […] virtual kisses to his kids. Perhaps give a ring to Canadian Dad blogger Chris Read who wrote a thought-provoking article on this ad already and get his thoughts. Real loving and hardworking Canadian […]

  2. […] Also: Days Inn Canada Falls Short In New Dad Ad by Canadian […]

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