How we dreamed up #DadUp

Fathers Network Scotland's new #DadUp campaign came from an idea by students at Napier University. JAMES YATES & SILVIA CUTRERA explain how their winning slogan was born…

How we dreamed up #DadUp

JamesSilvia3.jpgOur new #DadUp campaign came from an idea first pitched in a competition by students at Napier University. JAMES YATES & SILVIA CUTRERA explain how their winning slogan was born…

As MSc Creative Advertising students at Edinburgh Napier University, we’ve been developing our skills and insights this academic year, building a portfolio with creative concepts for advertising campaigns for a range of intriguing briefs, none more so than Fathers Network Scotland.

In November 2016, we met with Nick Thorpe from FNS, as well as Jane Strachan and Paul Mason from Punk, an Edinburgh based creative agency who FNS had been working with throughout 2016 on the ‘Year of the Dad’ campaign, to be briefed about what they wanted to achieve in 2017.

Continuing the great work FNS have done to promote equality and celebrate the difference a great dad can make, we were tasked with coming up with a concept that encourages society to reappraise what it means to be a dad in this day and age, especially in light of the dated and inaccurate portrayal of dads as ‘bumbling breadwinners’ in the media.JamesSilvia1.jpg


We approached the brief with our own great dads in mind. Silvia has fond memories of her father teaching her how to play the guitar back home in Italy and James loved visiting his dad in school holidays for camping trips and having his dad patiently teaching him how to ski. Our own experiences made us realise that the best dads are the ones who are truly engaged with their kids, whether that’s helping us develop life skills or even just hanging out.

However, our research led us to consider how boys and men can be brought up to be stereotypically masculine, being stoic and emotionally constrained with the well-known command of ‘man up!’  When men become fathers, this can create a barrier for them to fully engage with their children and be nurturing and emotional like mothers are usually seen.


In a wider sense it traps both genders in established roles, holding back true gender equality: what does “man up” even mean in a world where caring and earning are supposed to be shared responsibilities?


So the focus of our campaign was to celebrate dads who put aside old roles in order to be engaging and nurturing with their children, and use these dads as inspiring examples for others. To face this head-on, we created the alternative mantra: ‘Dad Up!’.

This was to be a call to action not just for fathers (and other father figures like grandads, stepdads and uncles) but just as importantly to employers and service-providers, to recognise that dads now have the same right as mums to request shared parental leave and flexible working, and need to be treated as equals by service-providers like NHS and parent-and-toddler groups.

We created a logo for this ‘Dad Up!’ campaign, using an abrupt, brushstroke like type in a shocking pink, which we felt represented the unashamed nature of our message. As well as this brand new mantra, we were also inspired by viral videos, depicting these fantastic dads that we had in mind. One video we loved was the famous video of the dad who puts his daughter’s hair in a ponytail using a vacuum cleaner. We thought this was such a great image of a dad who was getting involved in a stereotypically feminine activity of doing a girl’s hair but embracing it with his own fatherly touch.


Our team, as well as other teams in our class, were given the special opportunity to present our concept to representatives from Father’s Network Scotland, Punk and the Scottish Government at the government’s Victoria Quay building in Leith. Unfortunately, James had a family commitment in London but Silvia gave a fantastic presentation on her own, especially considering English is not her first language.

We were delighted to hear that Father’s Network Scotland liked our ideas and wanted to develop our concept moving forward in 2017 and look forward to see how their campaign progresses this year.

FNS Postscript: We too were delighted by how well Silvia's and James' slogan worked alongside the family of figures commissioned by Punk Creative during Year of the Dad. Have a look at our #DadUp campaign page and see what you think!

Our thanks to Jane Strachan and Paul Mason from Punk Creative for getting this ball rolling, Rodger Stanier and Iain Macdonald of Edinburgh Napier University's School of Arts & Creative Industries for setting your students loose on our challenge, Silvia, James and their fellow students for coming up with such creative ideas, and Craig Morris and Maggie Young at the Scottish Government for hosting it.

*  *  *   


SilviaCutreralr.jpgSILVIA: ‘When I think about the role of my dad throughout my life I think about his voice. The patient voice telling me tales invented by him to make me sleep (big challenge) and the strict voice able to make me stop in a second whatever I was doing wrong. The happy voice singing songs and teaching me how to play guitar, and the terrified voice teaching me how to drive (big challenge again). The voice saying, “You are beautiful” and the voice saying, “Here's your new book of logic games!”. But the main thing I am grateful for is that my dad has never been the old-fashioned stereotype of a dad. He has always helped at home, and he has never been an overprotective dad, like a lot of fathers are with their daughters, especially in the south of Italy. That's why I am sure I wouldn't be the confident, brave and independent woman that I am (or that I try to be) every day, if I hadn't had a dad like mine.’


JamesYateslr.jpgJAMES: ‘My parents split up when I was 5 years old and I spent most of my childhood living with my mum in Bahrain, a small country in the Middle East, whilst my sister and my dad lived in the south of France. Although that meant I had quite an interesting upbringing, it was also quite difficult growing up on the other side of the world to half your family. Me and my sister would take turns in flying out to the other parent during school holidays so I was always looking forward to the 2 times a year when I would make the trip to France. Whether it was camping trips in France or Italy, or skiing trips in the Alps just a couple of hours drive away, my dad was always very hands-on and made the most of the time we had. It meant that I have lots of great memories with my dad, despite the little time we spent together. I don’t think I would have the great relationship that I have with my dad today if it wasn’t for these times together growing up.’