More on Doofus Dad/Hapless Husband


I’m still looking for an online iteration of that massively offensive AT&T spot in which the all-wise wife and kid attempt to explain the concept of wireless internet to Unfrozen Caveman Father. The child ultimately tells him there’s an “invisible cord” but he remains bewildered.

In the previous post, I suggested that one reason Doofus Dad/Hapless Husband is an ever-present feature of advertising these days is that Madison Avenue believes women want to be flattered with ads depicting them as consistently smarter, wiser, cleaner, and more sophisticated than the men in their lives. While this is certainly a factor, it isn’t the only one. In fact, I think there are three additional reasons:

1. Copywriters are basically lazy. I know because I are one.

2. Most advertising agency creatives are between the ages of 25 and 35. As a result, they grew up in the era of Tim Allen (Home Improvement), Ray Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond) and the countless imitators that those wildly successful shows spawned, including King of Queens, According to Jim, Still Standing, and so on.

It is no accident that all of these sitcoms are built around the Doofus Dad/Hapless Husband paired with the all-knowing, all-wise wife. This generation of advertising creatives has been trained since childhood to think that if you want to create a humorous family situation, this is the only formula available.

3. Finally, there is our current tyranny of political correctness. The rarest of all creatures is the advertising executive with the courage to write a commercial that touches the buttons of one of the perennially aggrieved identity politics groups.

You may have noticed that in all of the those home security alarm company commercials, the creeper trying to break into the house is a white dude. Always.

I understand. I’ve been in those creative meetings where we’re trying to decide who to cast for what part in the television spot. In the current environment, you fall all over yourself to avoid playing to any stereotypes.

Everyone’s worst nightmare is being called a racist or sexist.  So when it comes to cooking up humorous, slice-of-life family scenarios for commercials, the only “safe” play is making men the butt of the joke. There’s no downside. Or is there . . . ?

Google the term “AT&T invisible cord commercial” and most of the hits link to discussion threads filled with comments by men deeply offended by the spot. Some are so angry, they’re considering dropping AT&T.

The last thing the nation needs is yet another aggrieved group launching boycotts. But what the nation desperately does need is honorable men and a culture that esteems them.