Spike Develops Daddy Complex

Feb 3, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Everything about Spike TV focuses on men, starting with its macho name. The programming, from UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) to reruns of “CSI,” is geared to men.
But what’s going on in the minds of those men in terms of fatherhood? That was the question Spike TV posed when it commenced an intense five-part research project to explore the current state of fatherhood in America. “You’ve Come a Long Way, Daddy!” has been selected as a finalist in the annual Case Study Award Competition at the 2008 CTAM Research Conference in Los Angeles.
“In 2006, Spike TV announced its pro-social initiative called True Dads to encourage fathers to be more involved in the lives of their children,” said Thomas Grayman, director of brand and consumer research for Spike TV. “As part of the campaign, we did research to get an understanding of the state of fatherhood and father-child interaction to make sure that the messaging that we craft would best resonate with our target.”
To put the research project together, Spike TV worked in conjunction with Insight Research Group and Greenfield Consulting Group. Their target audience included members of the Spike TV demographic, men 18-49, a mix of fathers and younger men as well as fathers-to-be.
“Just to get grounded on the nature of the issue, we talked to a series of experts—psychologists, academics, counselors—and they helped to set us up with a framework to understand the issues that we would explore,” said Mr. Grayman.
The second step in the process was focus groups. “We met with fathers of children under the age of 18. We then took the things that we learned there and we developed a survey,” he said.
One thousand fathers nationwide responded to the survey, and then, to clarify the data, Spike TV went even further. “We found a handful of representatives and went to their homes and did in-home interviews,” said Mr. Grayman.
After analyzing all the data, there were four major findings. First, in terms of child rearing, men now set higher goals for themselves than their fathers did. Second, today’s dads share the responsibilities that once were the sole province of moms. “They are interacting with their children more often and more intimately than yesterday’s dads ever did,” said Mr. Grayman.
The third finding is that men are looking for guidance and not finding it in other men; instead they’re more likely to turn to the women in their lives to learn how to be a good dad.
Our Four Fathers
The last finding was that there are four types of dads today: superdads (those who love being a dad and are confident they’re doing a great job), jugglers (those who want to be highly involved with their kids’ lives but feel they lack time), strugglers (those who feel least prepared for fatherhood and don’t know how to be better dads), and traditional dads (those who think they can be less involved and don’t need to nurture). The largest number of respondents identified themselves as strugglers (30%); 27% were traditional dads; 22% were superdads; and 20% were jugglers.
The results of the study shaped the network’s public-service component, including the creation of a new slogan: “Spike TV’s True Dads: Because Real Men Are True Dads.” The PSAs depict today’s fathers in a realistic fashion, unlike current TV dads such as Homer Simpson, “Family Guy’s” Peter Griffin or even Tony Soprano. In fact, respondents selected TV dads Cliff Huxtable (“The Cosby Show”) and Mike Brady (“The Brady Bunch”), images that are decades old, as good fathers and role models.
“Our dads are saying dads on TV today are typically depicted as dolts and are easily manipulated by their children,” said Mr. Grayman. “Men are looking for someone in the media to acknowledge the reality of the state of fatherhood today.”
With that in mind, Spike TV’s PSAs were created not to instruct men about how to be a better dad, but to acknowledge the good things that are already happening. “We took the route of celebrating the interactions that were already taking place, and in so doing we wound up giving recognition, which is what men are asking for, and showing by example the benefits of positive interaction. That was indirect guidance, the second thing that dads were looking for,” said Mr. Grayman.
There was more to True Dads than just the PSA campaign. Spike TV launched www.spiketruedads.com, a Web site for fathers offering forums, event information and practical advice for men. And that’s not all.
“We are sharing the findings of the research with our marketing partners to demonstrate our expertise in the men’s market—i.e., our deep understanding of the concerns and issues that men face in general—and to get some insights for our marketing partners as to ways to reach that market and talk to men in a way that resonates with them at a deeper level,” Mr. Grayman said.
In addition to being chosen as a finalist in the CTAM case-study competition, Spike TV has benefited in other ways. “It’s helped us win some positive attention as a network. The research was featured in a national news report on Fox News and it also got a bunch of write-ups in local media,” said Mr. Grayman.
A win at CTAM would be a coup for Spike TV. “The CTAM competition has developed a reputation for highlighting the best research that’s out there in the industry, so to have been acknowledged in that area is quite an honor,” said Mr. Grayman.


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