Today is an exciting day for nostalgic brand-geeks like Daddy (me!).
That's because consumer group 'Superbrands' revealed their 2018 top 20 UK brands earlier today. According to Superbrands' website, the shortlisted brands were selected by an impartial expert council of senior industry figures - participating brands are unable to apply to be considered, so it's completely unbiased. Then a sample of 2,500 ordinary folk voted on their favourite brands.
But before I reveal the top 20, I first want to explain why, as a dad and as a self-proclaimed brand-nerd I have been a little less enthusiastic about brands recently.
Do brands target mums and exclude dads?
I was talking to my friend Penny yesterday about brands on the telly. What began as a rant about adverts that talk directly to our children became a discussion about gender representation in television adverts.
We have both noticed that adverts are predominantly targeting women at the moment and in particular, mums. Penny's husband John pointed out that while Penny's becoming more and more exasperated about the content of TV adverts, he wasn't even noticing them at all and neither am I, unless they are especially dreadful.
It's wound Penny up to the extent that she's completely shunned all TV advertising and commercial channels.
Penny's annoyed because brands are relentlessly and explicitly targeting women (with a focus on mums) with a warped, 'Pinteresty' (current favourite adjective), filtered presentation of ordinary life and that contributes to a generation of girls and women who aspire to something false and unobtainable.
In her own words, "Adverts are making me unhappy!".
A case in point, here's the new Diet Coke advert, featuring a beautiful but extremely false walking stock-image of a woman. You could have paid my eight year old son to come up with something less cliched.
Here's another one, with a beautiful mum in a perfect Pinteresty house. Congratulations, Ariel on your superb representation of the modern working woman. Penny is not represented very well by this one either. Where's Dad? Where the clutter? Why isn't this woman at work? Tut.
As a father and especially as a gay father I feel completely excluded from brands' portrayal of their ideal customer-base.
With the very rare exception, gay families like ours, or gay people aged 30+ only seem to appear in a calculated, contentious way, presumably as a PR exercise to deliberately attract negative headlines from conservative media. Any kind of publicity is publicity, after all.
I'm also frustrated because brands are portraying dads in a negative, clumsy way. We're either slapstick DIY bums or boring businessmen in suits sitting around a table. As a modern, gay SAHD I find it impossible to identify with almost anybody on television, and anybody at all in television adverts.
To conclude our discussion (during which Penny and I scoffed a whole tin of bourbon biscuits and three coffees) our expert advice to brands is that they should rethink their presentation of men, women, gay people, families and homes - they should meet some real-life families and represent people correctly.
The Consumer Top 20 Superbrands
You can imagine my relief when today's top 20 was revealed. To my surprise, the list includes at least 15 what I would describe as 'Dad friendly' brands - that is brands which in my opinion do a fairly good job at making dads feel included and valuable.
More to my surprise though, all but one or two the brands in the top 20 offer something tangible - there's a distinct lack of emerging entertainment streaming brands... where's Spotify, for instance or Amazon?
I haven't analysed each of their TV advertising campaigns (that's something I'll do next time I see Penny over a packet of custard creams) but, at a glance the winning brands don't strike me as particularly 'mummy-focused' or exclusive, which is fantastic for us dads and gays.
"Does this list of consumer favourite brands suggest a shift in direction for advertisers? I do hope so."
So without further ado... here's the official top 20 UK 'Superbrands' (with a few thoughts from me on the top 10 brands).
"A developed, gender neutral brand, a great toy for dads and kids to play together and in my opinion the deserving winner. But are LEGO 'selling-out' to movie franchises and losing their wholesome 'building bricks' appeal?" 2. Gillette
"A brand for the dads? I think so. I would usually go for a cheaper brand but there's no denying that their distinctive branding stands out on the shelf" 3. Apple
"The worst TV advert ever made (even worse than Diet Coke) is the one with the spoiled little girl who wanders about unsupervised and then back-chats her lovely neighbour who asks a friendly question about her iPad." 4. Andrex
"Andrex seem to have nailed the 'wholesome' brand image. The puppy is a genius mascot, appealing to everybody"
"I despise their pretentious adverts and it's too expensive, but I'm still to find an alternative brand that tastes as nice" 6. Disney
"While we don't describe ourselves as 'Disney people', we probably have at least ten Disney branded items in our home. Is Wreck it Ralph the most underrated Disney movie (nay animated film) ever made?" 7. Marks & Spencer
"The M&S brand appeals across generations - the kids love Percy Pigs, we love their red wine, my parents like M&S beauty products and underwear and my Grandma loves their pre-prepared food"
"A good, old-fashioned reputation as experts in their field. But I find that the lighting in Boots gives me an instant headache" 9. Heinz
"Quality, tasty, reliable. Not sure I can think of anything negative to say about Heinz!"
"A reliable brand, but I'm not an enormous fan of people driving proverbially up my bum on the school run. Back off, BMW customers"
11. Cadbury 12. Rolex 13. BP
14. Shell 15. John Lewis 16. Heathrow 17. Jaguar 18. Kleenex 19. Visa 20. Häagen-Dazs
Just a quick note - to produce this blog article I referred to the Superbrands website - take an impartial look at their top 20 brands by clicking here.