Saturday, June 04, 2005

A Cautionary Father's Day Ad

Ideal DadIt’s June, which means that Father’s Day is the next shopping holiday mandated by a secret international consortium of unscrupulous retailers. Over the next few weeks, poor, unsuspecting, disposable income sporting individuals will be bombarded with a myriad of ads for creative gifts for dads.

While ‘creative’ might seem a positive adjective to describe these gifts, I use it more to describe the outlandish and useless products that suddenly appear this time of year in mall stores around the nation. For example, who really needs an all-in-one TV, radio, flashlight, warning light, car battery charger and bottle opener device? I admit that guys are harder to buy for than women, but that doesn’t justify buying a cheap plastic gizmo whose dubious future lies in a leaking landfill in Nevada.

Luckily, it’s easy to avoid the pointless, made-in-China trinkets – just steer clear of the center aisle display at your local department store. As you venture away from the road-most-traveled, take a look at a nice shirt or watch – always good gifts if you have insights into the deserving dad’s fashion sense - or know what it should be.

Ethnic DadA recent Father’s Day-themed direct mail advertising piece from Macy’s offered up numerous suggestions for dads that ranged from trendy clothes, sleek shoes, musky fragrances and striking timepieces. I enjoyed the deliberate photography choices that showed ‘model’ dads with ‘model’ children.

The cover of the Macy’s ad showed a father and child smiling together in their coordinating polo shirts. For good measure, that precious scene was replicated a few pages later with an ethnic flare. It was the next page that got my attention.

Reluctant DadAdvertising a cotton/polyester blend dress shirt by Kenneth Cole, a model is seen cradling an infant while feeding him a bottle. This appears in the Father’s Day mailer, so such a scene is not out of the ordinary...had it not been for the expression on the dad’s face and missing ring on his left hand.

No Mona Lisa, the model’s expression in this portrait was easy to decipher. With pursed lips and the head cocked culpably to one side, the look on the model’s face issued a warning to all single, sexually-active males out there – use protection. The expression was so clear it was as if he was sitting across the table from you saying, “Yeah, I was stupid and got a girl knocked up. Now, instead of hitting on some lingerie models from the Mother’s Day shoot, I’m here taking care of a baby.”

As this dialogue played out before me, I instantly placed some well-deserved respect with the Macy’s organization. At least they were trying to be honest in their advertising and were able to convey a socially-minded message at the same time. In order to reward their honesty, I encourage you to go out to Macy’s and get that dad a nice cotton/polyester blend shirt or stylish chronometer – just stay clear of the center aisle displays.

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