Commentary

Tommee Tippee's #ParentOn Opens the Daddy Floodgates

I’ve always been a crier, I suppose. Over the course of my (mumbles into shoulder) years, any number of workaday experiences have triggered a tsunami of soupy brine from the corners of my seeing-holes: Upon receiving the barest hint of professional validation, when speaking about a friend or family member, when listening to a friend or family member speak about me, as another year or season or airport novelette comes to a close, amid warm encounters with TSA screeners, throughout the entirety of extreme weather events, while being fitted for footwear, before lunch, during dessert, after beer number six, after beer number seven, at the moment that fate finally ends its efforts to thwart the union of characters portrayed by Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, and within two seconds of my favorite band kicking off the second encore with my favorite prom ballad.

I cry. I pat my cheeks dry. Then I divert attention away from my volcanic emotionality by doing something cool and edgy, like accidentally gluing my hand to the countertop.

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But since I’ve become a parent? Forget it. I cry so much that reality-show casting directors have urged me to seek professional help. Like at the dentist’s office the other day with son #1, who sits still so infrequently that I showed up with a pocketful of Xanax 4 Kidz at the ready. Somehow, he rose to the occasion, opening his mouth on cue and remaining perfectly composed as the doctor poked around his gums with instruments of pointy distraction. Did I well up? I welled up. On the way out, he thanked the dentist. HE THANKED THE DENTIST. Heavens, I love this kid. I am crying again. Where’s the glue?

You can probably imagine my reaction, then, to the brand video dropped this week by maker of babythings Tommee Tippee. It’s one of the first volleys in #ParentOn, the sanest, most effortlessly appealing campaign aimed at parents since I started paying attention to this stuff. And it basically liquefied me on the spot.

The clip’s genius is its simplicity. It consists of a 75-second close-up on an infant’s super-ninja-adorable face, which is framed by a hoodie so puffy and comfy-wumfy that I plan to order a cheap Internet knockoff version the second I finish this column.

As the baby remains impressively still, the video superimposes messages across the screen, all of which land in the tonal sweet spot between glib and preachy. They include: “There’s no baby book on your baby” (damn straight! my kid is more unique than LeBron James and Sinéad O’Connor combined!); “You’ll make mistakes. Lots of them” (while I cannot be certain if the video is specifically alluding to what my wife has come to call “The Curious Incident of the Baby in the Mosh Pit,” I nonetheless feel a degree of vindication); and “You quickly learn that raising a child is also when you raise yourself” (like the way they used two different denotations of “raise” there? Tommee Tippee has even found a way to wink at me and my word-nerd peers).

Yet despite all the verbiage, there’s really only a single message conveyed, which is “do your best.” After having been lectured by fellow parents about everything from proper carrying techniques to the eternal hell in which I’ll bake if I allow my child to suckle upon a nitrosamine-containing sippee-cup nipple, it’s nice to hear somebody besides our pals Allie and Josh acknowledge that there’s no right way to complete most baby-related tasks. I mean, nobody’s bathing the kid in the dishwasher. Alone among the 340 marketers hitting me with kid-related messages on a daily basis, Tommee Tippee has said, “Take it easy, dude. You’re not an idiot. The kid will be fine.”

It feels liberating, frankly, and so easy and natural that I’m stunned no other parent-targeting brand has taken a similar attitudinal approach. While I’ve got a few questions about the #ParentOn clip - How long did its makers nap the kid before filming? Would it be legal to re-cut it to the strains of a better if not entirely lyrically on-point piece of music, maybe something by Shawn Colvin or Freedy Johnston? - I have fewer than zero questions about its effectiveness. I’m not alone in my status as a proudly emotional puddle of a parent; I can’t imagine anybody similarly inclined would feel any differently about the clip - and now about the Tommee Tippee brand. I love this. Love it.

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