As the number of stay-at-home fathers is growing in China, dads now demand a better narration. Mia.com’s advertisement campaign breaks gender stereotypes and unravels new attentive fathers
“New dads” are often ignored by advertisement campaigns. If they are not, they are usually portrayed as clueless or careless. Indeed, the image old generations grew with is that parenting is a mother’s job while the father is the one who takes care of his family outside the house’s walls.
However, as well as many other gender stereotypes, the role of new dads is globally changing, in China too. The e-commerce website Mia.com is one of the first Chinese companies, which recognized the need for a different family’s narration launching an advertisement campaign that completely moves the audience’s attention from mothers to fathers.
Mia.com 蜜芽 – formerly miyabaobei.com – is an e-commerce platform founded by Liu Nan in 2011, whose headquarters is in Beijing. It was originally a shop on Taobao but left the platform to establish its own domain in February 2014.
Liu Nan managed to muscle her way into a sector dominated by Chinese giants such as Alibaba and JD.com by addressing a particular niche, that of new parents. Maternity dresses, milk powders, diapers, Mia.com provides parents with everything they need from baby products to toys.
Carving out a niche spot in imported baby products, the online retail company has quickly reached the status of Chinese Unicorn being valued $1 billion in less than four years.
Since 2011, Liu Nan’s startup has grown rapidly also thanks to the one-child policy’s relaxation. Nevertheless, Mia.com is not only the most well-known online platform for mother and baby products in China but it is now also known for being the company that is breaking down family stereotypes.
Two years ago, the platform launched, in fact, a ground-breaking campaign that did not show mothers taking care of babies, but rather fathers who take care of the daily actions newborns require.
The message was that the mother is no longer the only one to take care of the household, but also the father now cares about the family helping the wife in the housework.
This goes without saying, but the response of the Chinese audience has been enthusiastic, especially among millennial new parents.
According to studies, in fact, 38% of dads say they do not believe brands accurately depict their role as a parent. Today’s fathers are much different from the traditional stereotype and most of the advertisements do not reflect the actual household.
Millennial dads now spend much more time caring for their children compared to previous generations, and the studies show 94% of men surveyed say that being a dad is central to their identity and their most important job.
However, the common neglect of fathers taking care of newborns and the consequent change of representation in China’s media are the results of many socioeconomic and cultural changes in Chinese society.
The construct of fatherhood in the Middle Kingdom has a fluctuating history. In pre-modern China, the traditional father embodied both manhood virtues as well as the family ethics of Confucianism. At that time, the husband used to go off to work while the wife stayed at home to care for their children.
The Chinese Revolution then promoted completely different family values encouraging women to join the workforce. But although women entered the labor market, the father role was considered so unnecessary in the family life that they were often dubbed the “invisible dads.” Society expected fathers to offer economic support to the family as part and parcel of their family duties, nothing more than that.
However, even if at first women had to juggle work and family, the household’s roles began to change drastically over the last two decades. Men and women started to be more equal at work and they consequently began to share more and more roles in the family.
© Unsplash. In China, stay-at-home fatherhood has become more common as women’s earning potential and leadership opportunities in the workplace have increased.
Thanks to this slow transition to parenthood, men had the chance to acknowledge their desire to bear offspring and their innate paternal instinct. The contemporary urban Chinese father thus aims to be more involved in childcare and prefer an emotional approach over the traditional authoritarian attitude.
Therefore, in globalized China, the family relationship switched from a patriarchal society that favored power and masculinity to an increasing child-centered society where mothers and fathers share the same roles and values both at work and at home.
In accordance with the change in traditionally gendered notions of parenting, last year the Jiangsu Province released a law to grant 30 days of paternity leave after Gansu, Henan, and Yunnan decided to double their current 15-day leave period.
“The 30-day holiday is a step forward. It’s time for people to recognize the importance of fathers’ participation in child care,” said Li Xuan, an assistant professor of psychology at New York University Shanghai.
“Compared with past generations, today’s fathers are more keen on building a close relationship with their children from an early age,” Li Xuan.
With the increasing number of fathers finding parenting to be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, the number of stay-at-home dads is also rising in China.
Although many children are still raised completely by their grandparents when both the parents work, this attitude is quickly changing. Wives now want to devote more time and energy to their own education and careers while husbands volunteer to become full-time dads.
In Chinese cities, in fact, it is now common to see young men holding babies or pushing strollers around. They learned to change diapers, cooking food and taking care of the house day by day and they are now proud of their exciting full-time job.
Therefore, Mia.com decided to address its marketing campaign to this new emerging audience: that of proud new dads who are attentive to kids, who know the products and, above all, who help the wife in raising children.
The company chose the Chinese actor Wang Han 汪涵 as brand ambassador in 2015. He perfectly embodied the idea of the emerging proud dad, since he was the father of a one-year-old.
© Weibo. The Chinese TV host Wang Han has been chosen by Mia.com to represent the new generation of China’s proud dads.
Mia.com’s campaign starring Wang Han had a considerable echo across the country. Both dads and the female audience loved the ground-breaking representation of the family roles.
The e-commerce platform managed to transform its image to meet the evolving needs of new parents and babies. Therefore, from a mere baby products’ e-commerce, Liu Nan’s company was able to become a life guide, which leads the parenting trend enhancing the consumption habits of parent-child families.
The Beijing-based startup has always been with mums from the very start of their parenting “job” but this new campaign highlights that the company is still supporting mothers while also moving forward with changing times.
As parenting has evolved in China and in the rest of the world, so have the needs of millennial parents. Therefore, Mia.com praises the roles of mums who balance multiple roles but also recognizes and supports the increasing role of fathers today.
Young dads now claim an updated narration that better represents their engagement with fatherhood, a claim that is positively influencing industries and society as a whole.
Mia.com is currently the most well-known online platform for mothers and baby products in China and the narrative of its founder’s own genuine intention to respond to parents’ needs and leanings is well appreciated by the customers.
Babies used to be a matter of women, as well as equal opportunities. However, Mia.com shows how strongly men want their slice of equality in raising their children.
A father from the Anhui Province says: “Between the two of us, whoever enjoys parenting more should be doing that. Because I am good with children, this is the best arrangement for our family.”
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