If you don’t have children, you may be unaware of the wars currently raging when it comes to parenting—breast versus bottle, disposable versus cloth, working versus stay-at-home, and Baby Bjorn versus sling. Mothers are judging mothers—and fathers—for the choices they make about how to raise their children.
Formula maker Similac lives daily amid the vitriol, and in its most recent marketing campaign taglined, “The Sisterhood of Motherhood,” the baby formula giant is calling for a truce.
Its latest video installment, a satirical playground confrontation of the various sides in the Mommy Wars, has already attracted close to 6 million views after less than two weeks. It has had lots of action on social, the vast majority of which is supportive of the message: Mothers and fathers need to stop the war of aspersions and acknowledge that they’re all parents first.
“When we talk about a sisterhood, we’re talking about a mindset we’re hoping people will embrace, to be supportive of each other as parents and recognize we all share the same concern about our children,” says Lindsy Delco, the director of public affairs at Abbott Nutrition, parent of the Similac brand.
Trying to call a halt to hostilities in the decades-old Mommy Wars seems to be a popular point of view, based on an outpouring of responses on social.
Where Similac took the pledge for peace a step further was in the equal footing it gave to dads in the childcare debate. In the Similac video and several commercials—including a couple by Dove and Nissan airing during today’s Super Bowl—huge consumer products brands are acknowledging an oh-so-subtle shift in parental duties that millennials are quietly bringing about.
“We recognized the role dads play today in raising families, and how important it is to millennial moms that their partners share in the experience,” says Tamara Neufeld Brown, vice president group account director at Publicis Kaplan Thaler, the agency that produced Similac’s edgy 2:38-minute video. “What defines a family has evolved a lot in recent years. It was important for us to reflect the reality of today’s family, because it’s not just moms who face judgment.”
There are, in fact, more stay-at-home dads than ever, as a 2014 Pew Research study noted: More than 2 million men represented 16 percent of all stay-at-home parents in 2012, up from a mere 10 percent in 1989, when they numbered a little over 1 million. One in five fathers are now the primary caregiver of preschool-age children when the mother is employed, according to a June 2014 report by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers.
Dads are reading more to kids, and helping with homework, and bathing and diapering. They also want parental benefits, such as paternity leave. In a 2014 study by Boston College’s Center for Work & Family, 60 percent of 3,000 fathers surveyed ranked paternity leave as extremely or very important, even though few who took it stayed away from work for more than two weeks.
So you would guess the daddy blogosphere would have universally embraced Similac’s portrayal of dads, both straight and gay? Come on, this is the Internet, so of course, there are a few complainers. The Similac campaign’s overall slogan is The Sisterhood of Motherhood. Exclusionary, a few daddy bloggers charge. “Just where does a dad fit into #sisterhoodunite, tweets one.
“We feel strongly that the concept of sisterhood can include everyone,” says Abbott Nutrition’s Delco. “We include everyone when we talk about all of us being parents first. I don’t think there’s a controversy in that.”
Watch the video here: