It’s a scene that every parent dreads: a group of bullies jeering as their offspring walks innocently past. Here, however, the boy’s father puts an arm protectively around his shoulder and wills him to be strong. More than that, though, this dad has an ingenious plan that will help his son beat the bullies’ prejudice for good.
In this viral video, a young boy named Mateo is seen surreptitiously indulging in a passion that is no doubt the source of the bullies’ jibes. After all, hidden away in his bedroom, Mateo studies videos of flamenco dancers.
Suddenly, though, his dad interrupts his reverie with a surprise package. The boy appears confused and maybe a little disappointed as he opens it, however. Still, that’s probably because the package doesn’t contain the flamenco outfit that he was hoping for.
Instead, the box contains a judo outfit, or what the Japanese might call a judogi. The next day, then, father and son leave the house ready for the boy’s first judo lesson.
Mateo wears the uniform under a heavy coat, hiding it from the bullies who heckle him as he walks past. “Where are you going, daddy’s boy?” they taunt.
At first, Mateo is far from a natural in judo class. In fact, he is out of time with the rest of the students, and he loses badly in his first fight. Despite this, however, his dad is determined to see things through.
Over a montage of scenes, though, the boy gradually improves. Indeed, Mateo becomes fitter and more in tune with the rest of the class, and he begins winning his fights. The bullies, however, still taunt the boy as he walks to class. “Still in your pajamas?” they call at him, mocking his judogi.
Soon, however, we see all of the boy’s hard work begin to pay off. This is particularly evident when his mom and dad watch proudly as he wins another fight, cheering as he accepts a trophy for his efforts.
Later, at home, the boy places the trophy on his bedroom shelf. It is clear from his expression that he is proud – although perhaps not completely fulfilled.
Then comes the delightful twist in the tale. His father knocks on the door with another surprise package, and Mateo opens the parcel. What’s inside? Of course, it’s the flamenco outfit that he always wanted.
Mateo is delighted and hugs his father in glee. And the next day, when it comes to wearing the flamboyant costume, he doesn’t feel the need to hide it under a heavy coat. Instead, he strides confidently past the bullies, finally possessing the confidence to hold his head up high.
This heartwarming story is, it turns out, a commercial for American Family Insurance. Created by advertising agency BBDO New York, the video – entitled Dad Insurance for Fearless Dreamers – was released on June 15, 2016, in the run-up to Father’s Day.
Conceived as part of the firm’s Insure Carefully, Dream Fearlessly campaign, the video concludes with the tagline “When you’re pursuing a dream, it helps to have the right insurance first.” The advert seeks to inspire customers to follow the example of the dad in the video and create foundations on which their children can build their dreams.
It came after a previous successful campaign centered around a young girl with aspirations of becoming an astronaut. Indeed, both commerials mark a strategy that sees the insurance company attempting to set itself apart from its competitors.
The video was promoted through American Family Insurance’s own website as well as through a Twitter campaign. Consumers were further encouraged to use the hashtag #dadinsurance to share their own stories of following their dreams.
According to the campaign’s website, it seeks to recreate the feeling of wonder and possibility associated with childhood. “Remember when you were young?” it posits. “It felt like everything was within reach. That any dream was possible – because someone was always there for you.”
Mind you, American Family Insurance is no stranger to forking out for big budget campaigns, having spent almost $200 million on marketing in 2015 alone. But will this new campaign be worth the investment?
Initial responses to the video certainly were encouraging. Indeed, articles cropped up all over the internet praising its imaginative tale of a father’s love, and commenters on the company’s YouTube channel have called it “epic” and even the “best ad ever.”
One, known as Robert Mason, gushed, “This represents what being a father is all about. More men should aspire to reach this standard. Thanks AFI for kicking off Father’s Day ’16 so appropriately.” Meanwhile, industry website Adweek seemed to agree, deeming it “one of the better Father’s Day efforts we’ve seen this year.”
To date, more than 5.5 million people have watched the advert on American Family Insurance’s YouTube channel alone. However, whether it has inspired any real-life dads to give their sons a solid founding in judo before undertaking any unusual hobbies remains to be seen.