The battle between the Broncos and Panthers was the focus of the Super Bowl. But for millions of casual fans, the bigger competition was the contest for the best advertisement. For companies and causes, the big game is a once-a-year chance to offer a message to a huge crowd of Americans.
One finalist for the best commercial is Procter and Gamble’s Pantene ad campaign released before the Super Bowl, titled “Dad-Do,” featuring several NFL players fixing their daughters’ hair.
One can’t help but smile watching Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams twisting his daughter’s hair, and responding to her audible request to add a bow. Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten struggles with his daughter’s ballerina bun, but scores with pigtails and a fatherly kiss on her nose. Tight end Benjamin Watson of the New Orleans Saints gets giggles of approval from his daughter after she checks out her new “do” in the mirror.
The ad finishes with a message from Pantene: “Girls who spend quality time with their dads grow up to be stronger women.” This fits in well with Pantene’s overall “Strong is beautiful” slogan. But the bigger idea the commercial communicates is that girls, and families in general, win when their fathers take an active role in their lives.
Don’t Forget the Positive Press
In a time when so many of our cultural messages appeal to the lowest common denominator, it is encouraging that heartwarming messages about family and fatherhood are still charming.
In the NFL, negative stories often garner more press coverage than the positive ones. Ray Rice’s scandal, for example, deserved national outrage and punishment. But the good work of many players also deserves our attention. Take New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. The Brees Dream Foundation has contributed more than $22,000,000 to charitable causes, including care for children and families in need.
On college campuses, the discussion often focuses on issues that pit men and women against each other. For years, feminists have promoted misleading statistics about the threat that men pose to women—including that 1 in 5 women on college campuses has been raped, even after that has been debunked.
Of course, it is important for women—and all students—to be wary of the dangers of campus social life, including excessive drinking and the hook up culture. But it sends the wrong message to young women and men alike if our society wrongly assumes that all men are inherently threats to women.
As with Pantene’s positive message about the NFL stars playing the role of daddy hairdressers, it is important that we highlight positive stories about men outside of the NFL.
Honor the Men Who Deserve It
Despite what is often covered in the news, many young men are polite, seek to help others, and treat everyone with the respect they deserve. That is why the organization I founded, the Network of Enlightened Women, holds an annual contest each spring called The Gentlemen Showcase. In this contest to recognize, honor, and encourage young gentlemen, men are nominated throughout the month of February in two categories—the College Category and the Under 30 Category—for gentlemanly acts. Last year, 79 men were nominated and more than 10,000 votes were cast.
Nominations are already rolling in. In the nominations so far, the nominators focus on the ways that the young men put others before themselves and how well they treat others. One nominator wrote of John Petrie, a student at Pennsylvania State University:
“John helped co-found the organization ServeState which has grown into one of Penn State’s most influential service and philanthropy based organizations on campus. John started a service initiative in State College, Pennsylvania called the Birthday Brigade. The Birthday Brigade delivers cupcakes, balloons, and cards to shut ins through Meals on Wheels. These elderly folk may have otherwise been forgotten if it hadn’t been for John’s efforts.”
In a nomination for Matthew Hurley at George Mason University, his nominator wrote: “He never fails to help another person out whether it be a friend or a stranger who needs an extra hand. As an upstanding man in the military and an amazing friend, he is the example of a modern gentlemen.”
After winning the college contest last year, Cornell University senior Brandon Thompson said, “Everyone has the ability to change the lives of others for the better. Make your goal in life improving the lives of others, and good things will come to you.”
That might be by braiding hair or starting an organization to help the less fortunate. Let’s hope this Super Bowl commercial kicks off a year of honoring the good men in our lives, and in turn, encouraging more of them.