This “Pals” advert is a beautifully crafted advertisement. There’s a great 70s vibe about it – that reminds me of my youth. It evokes powerful nostalgic images of better times when mates were mates and life was less complicated. It’s a clever marketting strategy that plays on Robinson’s historic brand tradition. It follows the trend set by brands like John Lewis, Sony and Hovis who aimed to bring trust to a brand by incepting the idea that they have shaped our life history.
But this evocative ad has a twist in the tale. The two boys sharing a summer’s day of play are actually a father and son. The strapline at the end
What does it mean? Perhaps its a challenge to a distant austere parenting that kept children at arm’s length. Perhaps it is an assault on the growing number absentee fathers – who widow their wives and orphan their children on the golf course or in the board room? Perhaps it is a critique of those biological fathers who decide to have no contact with the children they father? Admirable though these motives may be. I still struggle with this ad.
I have been struggling to find out why? Perhaps it sentimentalises parenting by collapsing it into friendship.
Is the role of a father less than the role of a friend?
Are friends to be valued more than fathers?
Is the ideal father just another mate you can play about with?
Is a father just another friend whose advice and lifestyle you can pick and chose from?
Fathers have a key role alongside Mothers to love their children enough to help form them morally, socially, economically. Parents cannot be replaced by friends or peers, there is a responsibility, authority and commitment that parents are called to provide that friends do not have. I am grateful that my father was approachable when I was a young lad, I am grateful that he was faithful and strong with me when he needed to be. I am grateful for his guidance and wisdom that helped me navigate life when my friends were making dubious decisions. Am I over reacting? Let me know what you think…
Its good to be a friend, its great being a dad.