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Young woman and her stepdad call out Cetaphil for pre-Super Bowl commercial that mirrors their popular TikTok videos: 'It's our story'

Since the stepfather-daughter duo spoke out against the skincare brand, Cetaphil has reached out and "made things right."

Left: TikTok user Sharon Mbabazi and her stepdad (via TikTok), Right: Cetaphil 2024 pre-Super Bowl ad (via YouTube)

When skin care brand Cetaphil released its pre-Super Bowl commercial before Sunday’s game, it seemed to have all the elements of a viral hit.

The video starts with a father trying and failing to capture his teenage daughter’s attention, who seems more interested in her phone than the football game he’s watching. She goes upstairs to do her skin care routine — using Cetaphil — smiling when the TV announcer mentions “the most famous fan at the game.”

Seizing the opportunity, the father later comes into his daughter’s room with a red No. 13 jersey for her — in a seeming nod to Taylor Swift — and makes some jokes while applying some Cetaphil cream. The two go back downstairs and watch the game, with the daughter finally putting her phone down and cuddling up next to her dad.

The commercial ends with the message, “This season, dads and daughters found a new way to connect.”

Swift isn’t explicitly mentioned, although the ad is a not-so-subtle reference to her presence at Kansas City Chiefs games after she started dating Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. The red jersey with the number 13 references not only her lucky number and one of her famous song titles but also a Chiefs team color.

Initially, it seemed as if Cetaphil had struck advertising gold. Reactions across TikTok and X, formerly known as Twitter, had people saying the ad left them in tears and Swifties dubbing the sweet father-daughter relationship a result of the “Taylor Swift effect.”

But to one Black creator on TikTok, the ad was a little too familiar.

Sharon Mbabazi (@sharavinaaa), 24, had been uploading a series of videos revolving around her stepdad coming into her room to share Kansas City Chiefs and Taylor Swift updates. In a video from September that has over 2.8 million views, Mbabazi films herself applying her makeup when her stepdad walks in with his weekly updates.

“I’ve turned him into a swiftie,” she wrote in the caption.

In another video, her stepdad walks into the room revealing the two are wearing matching eye-patch masks. After he opens the door and pokes his head into her room, he tells her, “5:20 tomorrow, we’re watching the game.”

On Friday, after the Cetaphil commercial was released, Mbabazi took to TikTok to call out the brand and accuse them of copying the TikToks she’d been making with her stepdad. The storyline was similar to videos she’d uploaded and also featured a mixed-race dynamic between the father and daughter.

Mbabazi did not respond to Yahoo News’s request for comment.

“For a second, I thought maybe it’s a coincidence until I saw the dad walk into the room and put skincare under his eyes like what my stepdad and I did in my video,” Mbabazi wrote. “Literally bar for bar, it’s the same concept, same idea.”

In a follow-up TikTok, Mbabazi’s stepdad shared his reaction to the video, saying, “That is a beautiful story that you have in your commercial that's going to be on the Super Bowl, but it's our story.”

"My daughter made the content that you stole,” he added.

A representative for Galderma, Cetaphil's parent company, told Yahoo News that the campaign was an “original creation inspired by a unique trend this year in which numerous young women and girls have been bonding with their fathers over football and posting about it on their social channels."

According to the New York Times, the Cetaphil ad was not scheduled to air nationally during the game, contrary to theories that Galderma or Cetaphil pulled the commercial last minute in response to the backlash. However, the Galderma representative said the commercial did air in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area only during the game itself. According to a flash survey conducted by consumer research firm Numerator, 20% of Super Bowl viewers said they were rooting for the Chiefs because of Kelce’s relationship with Swift.

Cetaphil subsequently contacted Mbabazi to try to make things right.

“They’ve acknowledged all the videos and content, and they’ve made things right with us,” Mbabazi said on Sunday.

"We are pleased to announce that we will be incorporating this young woman’s personal narrative into this campaign and other Cetaphil digital activities in the future," the Galderma representative told Yahoo News.

A day later, Mbabazi posted a Cetaphil-branded TikTok co-starring her stepdad. The comments were flooded with congratulations that Mbabazi and her stepdad were able to take back their narrative and perhaps get compensated for it.

“Kay, back to being silly,” Mbabazi tweeted.

(Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect a statement from Galderma, Cetaphil's parent company.)