I guess we should begin by thanking the television show Modern Family. The show's creators put the new "modern family" on the map by blowing away all the old stereotypes of what a family should look like. Upon its debut and in all the years since, it's been both a reflection of our culture and an inspiration to it.
Finally, the advertisers have caught on as well. We've seen a trend toward depicting modern family life in marketing, including television advertising, online video and all the social media activity that amplifies it. The brands are doing a much better job, IMHO, of reflecting our collective culture as it relates to family life.
Cheerios may have set this marketing trend with its first commercial featuring "Gracie" and her parents. While the brand got considerable flack for showcasing a mixed-race family, it carried on and released a sequel that debuted in this year's Super Bowl. The plot twist featured another baby on the way along with a negotiation for a new puppy as a result.
Honey Maid amped up its game by featuring real families of every size, shape and flavor, declaring them all to be wholesome, including single and same-sex parents among its buffet of families. Like Cheerios, the brand responded with more videos when it faced a social media backlash.
Swiffer joined in the game too, with real families discussing how they handle their domestic duties. The segment with the physically-challenged Dad broke even more boundaries.
In the end, backlash or not, these brands are demonstrating that they "get it," with the hope that if consumers see themselves in the brand, then they are more likely to participate.
As a result, we are seeing a new reality painted across what it's like to be a parent in this age of diversity. We are not the parents of yester year anymore; the stereotypes are a minority now.
It's actually kind of fun to see modern day portrayals of parenting, because the style is so vastly different than in generations past. We relate to our children differently than many of our parents related to us, and our interactions are very different as a result. It's not that we are peers by any means, but our relationships are more multi-dimensional.
Take a look at "First Moon Party" from HelloFlo, where this Mom tackles childhood drama in such a different manner, highlighting how her relationship with her daughter helps them tackle life's obstacles. This is not how June Cleaver would have handled her daughter's first period, that's for sure.
I'm inspired to see how Dad is being portrayed in marketing now as well. Hopefully, gone is the stereotype of the bumbly, fumbly Dad who is either completely uninvolved or who can't seem to get his act together to save his life.
Enter the new campaign from Cheerios called #HowToDad. Sure, they are launching a new item with peanut butter, but they are also declaring war on the notion that Dad can't run a household. This man is large and in charge, navigating the house and the entire family, including his wife.
My favorite line that I really resonate with as a Dad: "When a rule is broken we are the enforcement, when a heart is broken we are the reinforcement." Bravo!
It's been said that it takes three things to make a "trend," so clearly the modern family is trending. Let's hope it becomes more of a paradigm shift, with permanence.
As a single Dad myself, newly-minted to the empty nest, I know that I could have used the emotional and cultural support when I was going through those child-rearing years. In many ways I was alone in my parenting, so I am personally thrilled to see brands better reflect and inspire today's parents... of any flavor.