So, if you are a producer of a line of grooming products designed specifically for men, and you want to get men to open up and talk about sensitive issues such as what it means to be a Dad, what could you do to make such a thing happen? Simple: You put on an event at an over-the-top sports bar and mention that a few CFL sports celebrities and a popular sports broadcaster will be there to lead the discussion.
So this past Tuesday, the people behind the marketing of the entire Dove Men+Care product line hosted their first ever All Star Dad event at the Real Sports Bar & Grill in Toronto and invited Toronto Argonaut legend Mike “Pinball” Clemons, Montreal Alouette Quarterback Anthony Calvillo and TSN Host James Duthie among others to come out and talk about what its like to be a Dad. I was also invited to be on hand for this invitation only event and found it to be a rather unique experience.
While old stereotypes about dads are always going to be out there – those that show dad’s as being distant and clueless where parenting is concerned and otherwise fearful of talking about their true feelings – events like this try to create new images as to what the dad’s of today are really like. James Duthie lead a panel discussion with Clemons, Calvillo as well as musician Chris Patterson and entrepreneur Stephen Heron, all of whom are dads, and were grilled about their personal feelings towards fatherhood. Admittedly it was a bit of a novel site to see these men, who are more known for their abilities to blast through opposition defensive lines, generate guitar riffs and tackle tough business plans, than they are at opening up and sharing what being a Dad means to them, suddenly dish about daddy-dom with the spotlights blaring down.
The point of it all I suppose was to demonstrate that despite relatively tough exteriors, being a father is something that runs deep into a man’s emotional fibres and has feelings attached that have long been repressed by the branding of dads in the past. I personally have never identified myself to the daddy branding which has been so prevalent for decades and I guess it was refreshing to see that my feelings on this were more common that one would think. The entire Dove Men+Care marketing strategy plays on this and new video vignettes featuring Clemons and Calvillo showing their softer, daddy side emphasize this approach.
During a Q&A session I had a chance to ask the panel about how they have incorporated environmental stewardship into their parenting practices. When I go out and talk to students about climate change, I always tell them how they have huge influence over their parents and that they can be the catalysts to change in their homes instead of their parents. I mention this because I was impressed to hear Pinball Clemons say that it was actually his 3 children who were teaching him about environmental stewardship as opposed to it being the other way around. The rest of the panel also shared how they were actively engaging their children with things such as recycling. Anthony Calvillo even shared how his two children always like to go to the bathroom one after another and they like to only flush once to save water.
It remains to be seen if events like these and marketing strategies like what Unilever Canada is undertaking with their Dove Men+Care line can ultimately change the way dad’s are viewed both internally and externally. We all know that generations of typecasting won’t easily disappear. However as someone who considers himself a “New Generation” kind of dad, I think this is a positive initiative and one I was happy to be a part of. If they do it again I’ll even volunteer to be on the panel and put myself under the spotlight for I have plenty to share when it comes to my thoughts on being a dad and this website should be testament to that!
NOTE: Beginning May 17th, Canadians can nominate real All-Star dad’s in their life by sharing photos and stories at http://www.facebook.com/Dove.
A contest will be held in association with this initiative and 20 nominated dads will win a year’s supply of Dove Men+Care products. There is also a Grand Prize for 3 dads which includes a VIP trip to the 2011 Grey Cup game in Vancouver.