In Super Bowl commercial spotlight: dads and daughters

Remember this picture that blogger Doyin Richards posted a few years ago that elicited a racist reaction as it raced around online?

Photo: Doyin Richards

That image, and the reaction it generated, is behind one of Sunday’s Super Bowl ads.

Fathers doing daughters’ hair.

The company, Pantene, is trying first and foremost to sell hair care product.

But, as AdFreak points out today, it calls to mind Richards’ response to his critics at the time.

“The media doesn’t portray fathers as caregivers,” he said. “We’re seen as bumbling fools trying to figure out parenthood or macho men pushing their kids into the NFL. The other issue is that there’s a stereotype that black fathers are deadbeats.”

It is for all these reasons that these cute clips might strike just the same chords. To be fair, the daughters lack complete confidence in their fathers’ hair-styling abilities … and probably for good reason. “I don’t know why they make these barrettes so complicated for guys,” laments Williams as he struggles with his kindergartner’s twisted pigtails.

But a clean chignon isn’t the point. “A Dad ‘Do comes from the heart,” says the Cowboys’ Jason Witten in the ad. “There’s probably not a whole lot of style.”
In other words, it’s the act of spending time together—and the curiously subversive gesture of depicting tough-looking, football-playing dads in so nurturing a role—that transcends the activity itself (including any painful snarls—ouch!).

Though the focus is on the girls, it’s worth noting that bonding flows both ways. Each session becomes a highlight reel for dads as well as daughters.

It’s just an ad, but it’s a start.