As a Senior Director of Strategy at GMR, Alla Dragoun is focused on creating unforgettable experiences that connect people to brands. Chatting about the modern depiction of parenting in advertising, Alla proves that a marketer's job is to present a more equitable and diverse view of parenting, and inspire the industry to do better.
How has the depiction of parenthood in advertising evolved?
In 2021 P&G launched “Come Clean to Close the Chore Gap” to draw attention to the statistic that 63% of women say they are the only member of the household who does chores. Dove launched #RealDadMoments that showcased engaged dads. They also included images of homes with two dads, further pushing for acceptance of diversity in homes. Luckily, there’s been a shift from advertisements depicting mothers doing it all to a more equitable and diverse view of parenting.
How are agencies and brands adapting ad comms to inclusivity around parenting?
Marketers influence progressive thinking. Our job as creative leaders is not just to reflect society back at itself but to push towards progress and equity, and to inspire the best in all of us. We’re visionaries who strive for the way things ought to be.
In what ways does your role as a parent inform your work?
I think empathy is a core requirement for being successful in Strategy. If we don’t strive to understand people we can’t possibly begin to know how to connect with them. Becoming a mother has dialed up my “empathy meter” to a level I didn’t know was possible. I started to look at everyone as “someone’s baby.” I connected to a more emotional place within myself, unlocking my capacity for emotional connection with our audiences.
Becoming a mom has also elevated my desire to urge companies to do better. I’ve always had a strong interest in the intersection of cause, company, and community — it’s that sweet spot that allows brands to use their strengths and resources to support and improve communities. I want to champion the environmental and social sustainability efforts at GMR Marketing, and also work with the brands we serve to help them do more (and get recognized for it!) to make the world better.
What are some areas regarding parenthood that you feel could use more visibility in advertising?
When we talk about parenthood, we still need to face the reality that what we’re mostly talking about is motherhood. Showcasing more men as primary caretakers and more diversity in parenthood is a small step in the right direction, but we can’t gloss over the fact that during Covid-19 it was mostly women who left the workforce to care for children. It is often the women who carry a disproportionate load of chores and childcare at home, even if they work full-time jobs.
We can’t separate the conversation about parenthood from a larger conversation about women in our society. Especially now. Women still get shamed for breastfeeding in public. Women just lost the federal right to choose when it comes to their reproduction. Women are still expected to “bounce back” after childbirth. In addition to the inequality and challenges women face, we also live in a country where paid maternity & paternity leave isn’t guaranteed. Childcare is not only not free, it’s cost-prohibitive for many. We expect parents to work like they don’t have kids, and parent like they don’t have jobs. These issues need more visibility and more accountability from brands and employers about what they’re doing to help solve these issues for their audiences. Because parents are NOT super-humans.
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?
Brands can be inclusive of parental figures by focusing on what makes a loving, caring parent. By demonstrating that your brand is the one that’s championed by those who truly care, the conversation becomes more about the love, caring, sacrifice, attention given by loving caretakers, no matter who they are.