Bad Dadvertising, Sears: Dad Loses Kid, Kid Finds ‘Perfect’ Gift

Sears Dadvertising

Even if you’re still sucking down leftover Halloween candy and thinking about who’s sitting next to who on Thanksgiving, the retail machine is onto its next big thing. Tis the season for retailers to make dads look like incompetent fools and walking wallets. Sears is more than happy to step up and give it a go with their commercial “Holiday Baby”.

In the 30-second spot, dad’s checking out a no-doubt incredible drill while ignoring his child. And you just won’t believe what happens next! Okay, you will.

So, the short version is Jack the baby wiggles away from dad, dad panics, dad finds Jack under the perfect gift for mom. Here’s the commercial – set phasers to stun:

Big sigh, Sears.

Hate-able Moments:

  • Dad is looking at a drill, talking about how “mom would love this.” Now, there’s plenty of women who’d love a drill (my own mom being one), but let’s be honest. Sears was making dad look like he was clueless and self-centered. So self-centered in fact that he loses his baby.
  • As panicked as dad is, he’s still somehow got time to compliment some female shoppers. Ick. Complimenting women isn’t in-and-of-itself bad, but in this context, it just makes dad look like he’s bad at fatherhood and marriage.
  • Dad is so panicked, in fact, that he runs up the wrong escalator (when the right one is just as close and would have let out next to baby Jack). OMG chaos!
  • Dad finally finds baby Jack under a pyramid stack display of fake jewelry and – hooray – baby Jack has saved the day by cluing dad in on what mom would want – $30 worth of costume jewelry!
  • Dad never really thinks about what his wife wants. In the first scene, he’s thinking about the drill he’d like. In the last scene, he’s picking up the random item that fell on his kid. How is this a caring husband that loves his wife and knows just what kind of gift she’d like?

Since we’re in the business of being fair, we’ll also tell you the only thing we liked about this commercial: dad was shopping alone with his son. That’s a plus, and we’re happy that Sears at least showed a dad out alone with his kid.

This commercial does the opposite of making me want to go out and support the economy this season. It says, loud and clear, “hey dads, come for the tools, stay for the easily-found stacks of jewelry!”

While researching the commercial, I found another site talking about it: Feminist Disney Unlimited. Her take on dumb ol’ dad:

Also it was annoying because there is totally no way it would ever be a mom losing her child in a busy department store in a commercial, because that would look a bit like child endangerment, and not be a humorous cue in for consumption. But when it’s a dad it’s okay to be distracted by exercise equipment or whatever and somehow have your baby end up on another floor, being pummeled by a jewelry display, because the important thing is you found some tacky earrings! It’s a totally gendered performance of “parenting.” Nobody expects you to more than keep the baby alive, because you’re a man!

Go read the rest of her thoughts here.

You might also (just for funsies) ask, “Zach, weren’t there any concerned or attentive employees there to notice a frantic father and/or a lost child free-wheeling through the store?”

The Sears Experience

The Sears Experience

There were a total of THREE employees in the commercial, but only the first one was near dad and baby Jack. In the first scene, you see an employee slink by in the background as dumb-dad ogles a drill. That’s what we call the “Sears experience”: employees literally hiding and avoiding customers, while looking busy so you feel like you’re interrupting them if you have a question. There are only two other employees in the commercial, both far off, avoiding the chaos that’s flying through the store.

So, you see, Sears knocked this commercial out of the park; it makes dads look bad and doesn’t do anything for the image of their customer service. Bravo!


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Author: Zach Rosenberg View all posts by
is married and has one son. He's a gamer and world-class unicorn wrangler. You should follow him on Instagram. You can also find his writing on The Good Men Project and The Huffington Post, and HLN.
  • Pam

    Wow, Sears is a little behind the times. Anti Dad Ads aren’t cool anymore.

  • Steve

    Well written Zach.

  • While I haven’t seen a SEARS store that clean and well-stocked since the mid-90s, your comment on “The Sears Experience” was dead-on. The hiding employees are fantastic, as well as the “I’m too old for this s**t” ones that are usually hunched over the counter in the mattress department collecting dust.

  • Ty

    As much as I enjoyed all the points about sexism here (a couple I didn’t think of initially)… ” In the first scene, you see an employee slink by in the background” was definitely the best observation, because I totally didn’t even notice the guy or think about him potentially helping the dad find the baby.

  • He lost the kid because he was selfishly looking at a drill (read: fun man toy) which he was probably going to use to selifshly fix things around the house that his wife wanted more than he did. Typical self-centered husband… only caring about useless toys like drills while he should be buying useful jewelry for his wife… He still should have been watching his kid, though, of course.

  • Zack,

    I don’t shop at sears. I do use their escalators when I visit some malls and use their resources as payback for the poor decisions they make.

    Almost two years ago I had the Sears Latino account spamming me and other bloggers via twitter. When I called them out they went on a spree to act like concerns customers who where offended by my comments based on Sears Latino’s actions. I wrote a post on it and they even when after people commenting on the post.

    Looking at this poorly done commercial even more reason to not buy at Sears!

    • Sears is really behind the times. I think most of the old school brick-and-mortar retailers are having a hard time right now adapting to the new forms of social media, not realizing that social media can drive or hurt business. A lot of these companies are still using the same ad agencies they used to use, and not considering the changes in consumers and lifestyles. It’s a shame.

  • Beth

    Does anyone remember that John Walsh’s son was abducted at a Sears store? I found this commercial to be very disturbing and in bad taste!

  • Pam

    I am with you Beth. This ad is so offensive on many levels but especially losing track of your young child. Adam Walsh was kidnapped at a Sears store in Florida and subsequently murdered. This ad is so very offensive.

  • Brandi

    wow it’s a good thing other people in this world don’t take things as seriously as everyone in this post…it’s a freaking commercial, everyone get off your soapboxes and relax! What if it WAS a woman in this commercial? She could have been distracted by clothes…sheesh

  • ChargerBug

    Adam walsh for God’s sake Sears. How could their ad compay and Sears execs be SO STUPID? Sears put Adam Walsh outside to DIE.