EUROPE: Media depictions of fathers are frequently outdated and fail to take account of the key aspirations of modern dads, according to new Disney research.

When the entertainment brand talked to 160 fathers across the UK, Germany, Spain and Sweden it found four emotional drivers that were common across all markets and ages, The Drum reported: The desire to bond with, protect and equip their children, as well as entertain them.

The research also established that mothers and fathers approach family entertainment differently: while mums are more likely to be guided by the likes and dislikes of children, dads go back to brands they themselves knew as a child.

This makes fathers a “strong point of entry” for Disney, said Anna Hill, the brand’s UK chief marketing officer.

“We’ve often looked at the mums and the female leads in our films,” she noted. “But actually when you look at characters like [the Lion King’s] Mufasa, and [The Incredibles] Bob Parr, and even Darth Vader, who has some very questionable parenting skills ... it shows the great influence that fathers have in our stories.”

It’s an aspect that Disney will consider in greater depth in future in relation to both its advertising and its movies.

“We shouldn’t just stereotype them [fathers], which I think as generation we probably have done,” she admitted.

All brands, not just Disney, need to adapt to take account of the changes in family life that have seen fathers become house husbands and caregivers.

“They are a source of protection, comfort, enthusiasm for their families,” said Hill. “So I think it’s important for us that we tell new stories.”

A better understanding of the emotional connections between fathers and children is also playing into the brand’s DisneyLife streaming app, which recently launched in the UK and Ireland.

“What we're finding with [the app] is that it’s an opportunity to provide the right content in the household and to bring co-viewing opportunities together,” Hill explained.

“For the first time ever we've got data on who is using the service, and what we're looking to see is how we can bring these bonding moments together.”

Sourced from The Drum; additional content by WARC staff