The Early Learning Centre (ELC), a UK-based chain of toyshops, courted controversy yesterday by choosing to insult one of its main groups of customers---Dads!
In a poorly considered attempt at corporate humour, the retailer, which operates around 300 stores in 20 countries, shared a branded meme on Twitter and Facebook suggesting that the only role that dads play in childcare is telling their kids where mum is.
Fathers across the UK reacted angrily to the suggestion that mums face a long list of demands from their kids (eg "I’m hungry, "I’m cold", "she hit me", "can I have?" etc) while the only demand that dads have to deal with is: “where’s Mum?”.
Sexist, insulting and stereotypical
Tom, a father of two and primary school teacher from Worcestershire, who writes the blog Daddy Daydream, described the meme as: “very, very insulting to all those Dads who look after their families.”
“I work full time but I do try to do as much with my children as I can," he said. “There is still a lot of people out there who are unaware of the changes that are taking place in the roles of parents. I am just shocked that of all people to hold these old fashioned opinions that the ELC would be one of them.”
Another blogger, Al Jones of The Dad Network (cos dads have babies too) described the Early Learning Centre’s internet meme as “sexist, insulting and stereotypical”.
“It's a public display of discriminative stereotyping when (a lot) of dads are doing their best for their children,” he said. “My issue is that it makes implications that dads can't be arsed and just point their children to their mum. That just isn't the case anymore, and until things like this are stopped, we'll continue to have Batman and Robin climbing the houses of parliament. It's an ongoing uphill battle to promote the importance of the role of fathers within family life when massive corporations make two clicks and spread these kind of things all over the web”.
"We are truly sorry!"
According to the campaign group Fathers 4 Justice (F4J), the Early Learning Centre responded to complaints by removing the post and issuing he following apology:
"We truly are sorry and can assure you that it wasn't our intention to cause any upset. The post has now been removed."
F4J Campaign Director Nadine O'Connor said, "We welcome the swift apology by the Early Learning Centre and the removal of the offending post."
"We hope the real lesson ELC will learn is that fathers are not there to be denigrated, but to be valued in the lives of their children. This should be reflected in future social media posts and advertising by the Early Learning Centre."
Dads aren't just support staff
This isn’t first example of a large brand insulting fathers. Earlier this year Clinton Cards donated £500 to the ManKind charity for male victims of domestic violence to atone for their Director, Tim Fairs, referring to dads as “support staff” in the run up to Fathers’ Day. In another case, Huggies was forced to pull a TV ad that ridiculed dads after receiving a barrage of complaints from mums and dads.
According to a survey by Netmums,nine out of ten parents now think that TV dads do not reflect the contribution that fathers make to family life in the real world. Three out of ten went further and said the way dads are portrayed in the media is a “subtle form of discrimination”.
On a positive note, some brands like Cheerios and McDonald's have recently been praised for promoting positive images of fatherhood in their tv advertising.
If you spot an advert that’s sexist against men or ridicules fathers (or an advert about dads that deserves to be celebrated) please let us know in the comments section or email insideMANeditor@gmail.com.
---Picture discredit: Early Learning Centre
---Picture Credit: McDonalds 2014
Article by Glen Poole author of the book Equality For Men
Also on insideMAN:
- Finally, a British advert to make us proud to be dads
- Well done Wilkinson Sword
- How I became one of the UK's top dad bloggers
- Are you a masculine or feminine father and which one is best?
- The government's latest campaign won't prevent family breakdown