As advertising has shifted to reflect modern society, gone are the days of the traditional, nuclear family depiction. We chatted with André Havt, co-Managing Director and Creative Lead at MullenLowe Brasil, on presenting a more authentic view of parenting: enacting change from within, embracing the challenges of parenthood, and creating with empathy.
How has the depiction of parenthood in advertising evolved?
As society evolves, advertising must keep up with the changes, accurately representing where we are heading. Family dynamics and relationships are no exception. Gone are the days of the traditional father-mother-children family portrait. According to a 2015 IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) research, the majority of Brazilian families no longer fit this mold. However, the evolution of families goes beyond mere composition. Our relationships with family members are changing, redefining what it means to be a family. Today, family is rooted in love and not just a rigid ideal. Advertising must reflect these shifts in order to truly connect with and represent society.
How are agencies and brands adapting ad comms to inclusivity around parenting?
First of all, to be inclusive outside we have to be inclusive inside. Meaningful transformation cannot occur without a change from within. To have more inclusive ideas we got to be inclusive with the minds behind those ideas. Actively listening, seeking deeper understanding, and practicing empathy, along with utilizing research and data, is also a powerful formula to more effectively embrace this challenge. And, of course, the basics: avoid stereotypes, tackle the genuine challenges of parenthood, and represent all forms of families.
In what ways does your role as a parent inform your work?
This is a great question! Recently, we collaborated with TodasGroup to tackle a major issue in Brazil: nearly 50% of women lose their jobs after returning from maternity leave – a shocking reality. To kickstart the conversation, we asked an artificial intelligence tool to identify the valuable leadership skills that women often acquire after becoming mothers. The outcome was remarkable, with negotiation skills, crisis management, multitasking ability, organization, flexibility, empathy, and many other essential traits found to be a perfect match. Check out the detailed results here.
What are some areas regarding parenthood that you feel could use more visibility in advertising?
The list is extensive, but here are some essential topics that impact today's parenting landscape:
Co-parenting and sharing responsibilities equally between parents.
Stay-at-home dads and the importance of their role in childcare.
Single parenthood and the struggles faced by solo parents.
Adoption and fostering and the joy of creating a family in non-traditional ways.
Mental health and well-being of parents, including postpartum depression, anxiety, and therapy options.
LGBTQ+ parenting and the unique challenges faced by queer parents.
Breastfeeding in public without stigma or judgment.
Inclusive parenting products that cater to diverse families, including those with disabilities or special needs.
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?
Connecting with reality is connecting with the audience. A true story can be stronger than anything we can create. When such a story is closely tied to a brand's purpose, the balance achieved is perfect. It must be authentic - only then can the message carry enough power to make a real impact on society.