The Emperor penguin is an ideal candidate for fatherhood goals. Fans of the movie 'Happy Feet' know that the father is an equal parent; nurturing offspring right from the hatching of the eggs all the way up to adulthood.
Over a period of time, Indian e-tailer, Flipkart, observed that more and more men were shopping online for baby clothes and diapers. Based on this insight the company conducted a survey across 17 Indian cities, the findings of which showed that 85 per cent of the 1700 dads surveyed, were an active part of their child's daily routine. Flipkart says - these are your 'Penguin Dads.'
A spokesperson reveals that the first leg of the company's new 'progressive India' campaign tackles the notion of 'limiting beliefs' - individual in nature, but based on conforming to society, these restrict us from crossing boundaries. The first leg of this campaign is about fathers for whom this belief has been pre-defined and role-dictated, for ages, by gender and society norms. To celebrate dads who have disregarded that belief, Flipkart has released a 3-minute-long digital film.
A toast to hands-on dads
Though 'involved participating fathers' may not be a new breed, they are rapidly growing, says P.G. Aditya, senior creative director, Dentsu Webchutney.
"Are we exactly where we want to be? No. Is a dad buying diapers online the only measure of active parenting? No. However Flipkart understood that at some level there was change and we wanted to push that as the new normal because if conformity has worked for patriarchy, it will work for feminism too," he adds, when queried about the campaign launching in the times of #MeToo movements and women's day messages.
The film, shot by Ashwini Iyer Tiwari, shows dads as an active part of the 'everyday of their children' and is accompanied by a song (composed by Arjuna Harjai) that's from the point of view of a child. The main film will also be sliced into smaller parts.
Was there a profile for the 'representative dad' in the film?
The team wanted this to be an 'overall diaspora story.' "There is a bit of shyness when it comes to fathers showing love. We wanted to tell the 'penguin dads' out there that there are many like them - beyond income, tiers and urban-rural divides, doing this in their own way and bust the notion that progress happens in metros first," Aditya asserts.
The team wanted to choose a mix of activities that one can't automatically excel at. "You can't just go and braid hair after watching the film, but it can get easier if one has the will," he adds.
Aditya reveals that one deleted scene in the film had a father disconnecting a phone call to watch his daughter play the guitar, but it wasn't used because it had a congratulatory element to it. "Motivation is preceded by guilt and congratulations don't enable guilt - we needed to show that this is the new normal," he explains.
Calling out the norm in pop culture
The team notes that in Indian cinema, any time an involved father is shown in similar situations, he would either be a widower, a divorcee or his wife is out of town. "Progressive meant 'I'll step in only when my wife isn't around", notes Aditya.
Brand connect: 'If we tell a good story, we will be found'
The film has only a quick shot of Flipkart's mobile app. Aditya admits that the usual business insecurities come into a campaign when one goes purely for an emotional connect with a compelling message. "But we trusted ourselves because 'if you hear a good story, you always want to know the author'", he says.
"Keeping in mind the proportion of the role we play, we wanted to emphasise that we are only a part of the process of this change in parenting. Assuming 50 per cent of the real estate in the film would be a bit arrogant on our part because the consumer is doing so much more."
Is it a good idea and is it well told?
Sumanto Chattopadhyay, chairman and chief creative officer, Soho Square, The Ogilvy Group
I welcome any film that tries to break gender stereotypes. By holding up fathers who 'mother' their children as role models, Flipkart takes a step in the right direction. Identifying with a positive change in our society, the brand helps encourage it. The parallel drawn with the Emperor Penguin is relevant and smile-inducing. The execution is simple and sweet with the song helping to enhance the emotional impact. In the future, it would be nice to see Flipkart explore individual stories that take a deeper look into these developing social dynamics. That way, the brand could truly become a beacon for meaningful change.
Raj Nair, CEO and chief creative officer, Madison BMB
Being a parent of two teenage girls myself, it's heart-stirring to see an ode to papas. It immediately reminds me of all the times I have done the right thing. And obviously, of all the times I have not, as well. The insight and research are great. The idea and execution are sweet. The song, if at all, is not the most memorable that I have heard, but it passes muster. I particularly loved the humanness in the two situations: the water bottles forgotten around the neck and the stone throwing that doesn't skip even once. Overall, it's really good.