"Highlighting the fact that each family is unique in its own way can help drive a sense of pride in the family structure...": Rama Zarafili, TBWA\RAAD

Relatability goes a long way in connecting with the target audience

by India Fizer , AdForum

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Dubai, United Arab Emirates
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Rama Zarafili
Account Director TBWA\RAAD

In the latest installment of our 'Modern Parenting' series, Rama Zarafili, Account Director at TBWA\RAAD, speaks on portraying a more honest and relatable depiction of parenting, and communicating through a regional lens.


How has the depiction of parenthood in advertising evolved?

There has definitely been a shift in how parenthood is depicted in advertising over the years. In the past, the focus was often on traditional gender roles, with mothers being portrayed as the primary caregivers and fathers being the main source of income for the household.

However, with changing times, social and cultural norms have shifted and with that came a push towards more inclusive representations of parenting with ads featuring families with more diverse backgrounds and lifestyles.

There’s also been a greater emphasis on portraying the realities of parenting including the challenges as well as the joys that come with raising children. Brands have started to realize that it’s not always picture-perfect, and to be able to relate to their target audience they need to show that. Overall brands are starting to create a more authentic and relatable portrayal of parenthood that resonates with a wider range of people.


How are agencies and brands adapting ad comms to inclusivity around parenting?

Many brands are working to ensure their communications reflect the diverse makeup of modern families, as many are recognizing the importance of representing diverse family structures and parenting roles to ensure that their target audience is being represented in a way that is relevant and relatable to them.

Although there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done when it comes to portraying inclusivity in parenthood, particularly in our region.


In what ways does your role as a parent inform your work?

Being a parent can bring a unique perspective and sense of empathy especially since I lead on a brand that communicates to parents. As a parent, your perspective on what is necessary or desirable for families may change giving a better understanding of that target market. You develop a certain level of emotional intelligence that enables you to better cater to their needs.

Being a parent also impacts certain skills that you acquire without even knowing that make you better at what you do professionally. Having to juggle multiple responsibilities forces you to better manage time and priorities. Not to mention patience, communication, and problem-solving skills. Trust me, if you can find a solution to your kid eating chicken parmigiana by rebranding it as pasta with chicken nuggets, you can find a solution to anything!


What are some areas regarding parenthood that you feel could use more visibility in advertising?

There are definitely quite a few areas that could be talked about more in advertising and they require more attention, however there are a lot of topics that are considered a taboo to speak about in our region as they could be culturally and societally sensitive (some more than others).  Adoption for example, is a beautiful way to build a family, and it deserves more visibility in advertising to reduce the stigma around it and highlight the joys of this wonderful process. Home Center has actually touched on this in a very heartwarming way in their recent campaign "The Homecoming". Single parenting, also, has it’s own unique challenges and advertising that highlights these unique experiences of single parents could be helpful in providing support and resources for this growing segment. 

Lastly, although there’s been more progression in terms of openly showcasing working parents and portraying the struggles and challenges of work/life balance that they face, I feel there is still room for improvement in this area. Advertising should shed more light on the challenges of working parents. This is particularly relevant to me: It has been crucial to me, as a mom who works in the adverting industry, to get the necessary support, whether from within the household or at the place of work. I’ve been thankfully blessed with both – Blessed with a supportive husband who supports my ambitions and career growth and blessed with a management team at TBWA\RAAD that is human to say the least.


Legal guardians can play a significant role in the lives of children who are no longer with their birth parents. How can brands balance the importance placed on these other parental figures in their messaging?

When it comes to messaging that includes legal guardians, it is important for brands to recognize and acknowledge the role these individuals play in the lives of children. Brands need to avoid making assumptions about family structures and be mindful that not all families look the same. While legal guardians, especially in the region, are often grandparents or other extended family members, they may also be close family friends or chosen mentors so using inclusive language that can help express the importance of all those involved in a child’s life, is significant. Highlighting the fact that each family is unique in its own way, can help drive a sense of pride in the family structure regardless of its composition.