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I’m a stay-at-home dad. People say all kinds of dumb things to stay-at-home dads. This blog began as a way for me to record these comments and criticize the people who said them. However, it's evolved, and I now use it to express other random thoughts on parenting, children, gender, and society. Thanks for checking it out.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Papa Murphy’s: Dad-Shaming at 425 Degrees

Some encouraging ads have popped up in the last few years that show dads taking more active roles with their kids and around the house. A couple years ago, Tide made a commercial that showed a dad doing laundry and playing with his daughter. Kellogg’s presented a dad serving breakfast to his kids. And Campbell’s is currently running a brilliant spot that shows two dads enjoying a bowl of Star Wars soup with their son.

Papa Murphy’s decided to jump on the bandwagon, only they completely screwed it up. Their commercial, which can be viewed here, starts out all right, showing a loving father doing what loving fathers do: playing dress-up with his daughters. Then, it quickly takes an awful, poorly calculated turn.

The voiceover asks all the ladies in the house if the men they married have become big, soft “un-bold” wusses who do terrible things like interact with their children or express their fatherly devotion by engaging in active play. Our guy grows increasingly sad and helpless with each shot. His wife, who’s been watching all this, becomes distressed, realizing that her once-immature, sports-loving, beer-guzzling husband has become what no woman in her right mind would want: a devoted father!

So, into the kitchen she goes. Like any good wife, she makes her damn husband some damn dinner so that he can feel like a man again. She slides a nasty looking and nastier sounding Papa Murphy’s Frank's RedHot Buffalo Chicken Pizza into the oven before it’s too late. Next, we see that husband of hers doing what men were meant to do, watching football, eating pizza, and grunting like an enthusiastic ape. Rejoice! This man is BOLD again!

As is the case with a lot TV ads, there’s a 30-second version and a 15-second version. If you catch the longer version, you’ll see that, at the end of the commercial, this poor sucker’s daughters are still painting his toenails, and we’re reminded that this guy isn’t so bold after all. Even Papa Murphy isn’t a miracle worker, and this fella is still stuck with two adorable, healthy daughters who admire him. What a sap! Am I right, bros?

Could it be? Did I marry one of those "good guys"?
It’s hard to tell which part of the commercial I hate the most. Is it the look of boredom and defeat on the dad’s face as his daughters show him how much they love him? The horror on the wife’s face when she recognizes what’s become of her man? The idea that it’s every wife’s job to “re-bold” her husband, whatever the hell that means? The suggestion that Buffalo sauce is manlier than fatherhood?

The reception in social media has been overwhelming, and not in the way Papa Murphy’s was hoping for, I assume. It’s been said that any publicity is good publicity, but when your customers are saying things like, “I’ll never buy another one of your products again,” it’s hard to see the silver lining. Papa Murphy’s has clearly failed.

Here are some reactions on Twitter:

@LauraKeeney: “Re-bold your man”? @papamurphys thinks dads lose manhood by playing with daughters. I don’t understand how ads like this get made. #NFL

@KellyDiels: That Papa Murphy’s “re-bold your man” commercial is some sexist bullshit.

@wilder_timothy: Nothing better than appealing to crappy male stereotypes and glorifying uninvolved fathers <3 Thanks, Papa Murphy’s

And here are few of the many, many posts customers are putting on Papa Murphy’s Facebook page:

Love your product, hate your latest commercial. A father engaging in imaginative play with his daughters is NOT an issue. I’m appalled that you would air such a sexist, misogynistic, and outdated idea. Please stop airing the commercial and find a different way to promote your new flavor.

Based purely on your “de-bolded man” commercial, I will never purchase your product again. It sends the message that there is something wrong with a man who enjoys playing with his daughters, and that it’s something which needs to be fixed. Why? Does a man playing dress up threaten his manhood? Does it threaten yours? Clearly you are out of touch.

If you find nothing wrong with the “bold” pizza commercials, why do you keep deleting posts about people’s disappointment in the ad?

I am so very disappointed that the cheese bread changed at my Papa Murphy’s. I liked the round bread and now a VERY thick rectangle is the choice. I will not return to the store. Why was it changed???

Clearly, the decision-makers at Papa Murphy’s are screwing up left and right. Their marketing department, their cheese bread department … in light of such passionate consumer feedback, you have to believe heads are gonna roll.

For Papa Murphy’s part, they’ve been replying to some of the negative posts with a predictable half-apology:

Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback. Our recent Buffalo Chicken Pizza commercial was intended to show the bold flavor of the new pizza in a fun and humorous way, showcasing a family dynamic in a light-hearted manner. We apologize for any offense this advertisement may have caused as that was not our intention.

As for me, I’ve never bought a Papa Murphy’s pizza. Until now, I had nothing against the company. But after seeing this ad, I can safely say I’m now devoted to being a lifelong noncustomer. It won’t be easy, but I’ll somehow figure out a way to reclaim that boldness I lose every time I play with my children. Maybe I’ll skip a few showers or get a new pickup truck or go strangle a wild animal with my bare hands. Or I’ll ignore my kids, like Papa Murphy’s suggests.

Better yet, I’ll ignore Papa Murphy’s. Ignore their ads, ignore their stores, ignore their ludicrously thick rectangular cheese bread. I invite everyone else to do the same. Let’s see how bold Papa Murphy’s feels when it looks at its falling profits and realizes that running such a sexist, backward ad, no matter how “light-hearted” they think it is, has consequences.

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