You know what’s tough? Having the crazy strength to lift the man who raised you up, that’s what’s tough.
In a fun ad from AARP, Danny Trejo—badass star of Machete, From Dusk Till Dawn, Breaking Bad and a popular Snickers commercial—conducts various acts of mind-bending toughness. He puts out a fire on his arm just by growling at it, shaves with a machete (natch), lifts cars and knits chain mail.
But none of that is tougher than the male caregiver he compares himself to. This guy’s got two jobs (but only gets paid for one). And alongside Trejo’s Herculean acts of might, he’s also shown shaving, lifting and feeding his father.
Here’s the 60-second version of the spot:
“This guy—no, this warrior—will always be by his father’s side. Even if his dad will hardly remember,” Trejo says in the ad.
The work is brought to us by DDB New York and is the fruit of a partnership between AARP and the Ad Council, an effort to both support, and raise awareness for, men who care for their elderly loved ones.
Per the AARP, the typical unpaid family caregiver is a 49-year-old woman, but men are growing in the ranks. Today they represent 4 in 10 such caregivers in the U.S., counting about 16 million. And if Trejo’s out here demonstrating how tough it is to be tender, that’s because many male caregivers don’t feel comfortable talking about this part of their lives … or its challenges.
Here’s the 30-second version of the ad.
While “Tougher Than Tough” is playfully macho, it never overshadows or outdoes the everyday acts of aid performed by a normal-looking guy who seems like Trejo’s opposite. For this, we can thank both actors for not playing their roles into caricature.
Trejo’s effortless brawn comes across as so easy for him, it’s hardly comparable. And our caregiving hero, wordless throughout, rings unfailingly patient, dutiful and attentive—nothing to smirk at when caring for an elderly parent, an emotionally and physically trying full-time job.
On top of all the heavy lifting, over half of male caregivers perform medical and nursing tasks, including injections, tube feedings and wound care. And caregivers spend nearly 20 percent of their own income on out-of-pocket costs related to their efforts.
The ad is touted as the first-ever PSA campaign designed to address this unrecognized population. Slated to launch Tuesday, all variants point to aarp.org/caregiving for helpful resources and guides.
Here’s the 15-second version:
Trejo himself wasn’t chosen by accident. In a behind-the-scenes video, he talks about his own experience caring for a family friend, and his sadness at not having been able care for his own father, who died in an accident.
“When you think of just one person, like somebody’s son, taking care of their dad, that’s kind of like when God sends angels on earth,” Trejo says. “The dedication, the absolute love that’s generated … I wish I could’ve took care of my dad.”
“It takes a certain kind of dedication, a certain kind of love and a toughness that’s unbelievable,” Trejo adds.
If the toughest guy on planet Hollywood can cede to love, male caregivers can rest assured there’s plenty of testosterone to be found in the grueling work of tenderness (if that were ever in question).
Below are some brawny behind-the-scenes shots of Trejo on-set.
Creative Agency: DDB NY
CCO: Icaro Doria
ECD: Lucas Panizza
Senior Copywriter: Turan Tuluy
Senior Art Director: Mina Mikhael
Chief Production Officer: Madison Wharton
Head of Production: Ed Zazzera
Executive Producer: Chris Klein
Manager Art Buying: Jane Piampiano
Print Producer: Joan Elsesser
Account Director: Lauren Neuman
Account Supervisor: Caroline Uffelman
Associate Planning Director: Neil Simpson
Production Company: Bullitt
Director: Tim K
CEO/Executive Producer: Todd Makurath
Executive Producer: Luke Ricci
Head of Production: Jenni Sprunger
Line Producer: Vincent Oster
Editorial Company: Cut & Run
Editor: Joel Miller
Assistant Editor: David Belizario
Executive Producer: Lauren Hertzberg
Senior Producer: Joanna Hall
Executive Producer: Lauren Hertzberg
Producer: Johanna Hall
Color: The Mill
Producer: Natalie Westerfield
Colorist: Mikey Rossiter
Flame Artist: Joseph Grosso
Assistant Flame Artist: Matthew Dolvin
Producer: Wendy Gardner
Music: Felt Music
Music Director: Natalie Dickens
Audio: Duotone Audio Group
Audio Engineer: Andy Green
Executive Producer: Greg Tiefenbrun