Surprise – a dad could win this mom contest

Stereotypes, media and long-held assumptions might make you believe that more men buy power tools than women – and maybe that’s true.  Maybe it’s not.

But either way, you’re certainly not going to find major home improvement retailers running campaigns which target only men.

It’s bad business.  It alienates customers.  It’s sexist.  It’s wrong.armour

Unfortunately, that’s not the way business works at Armour, which makes various food products, most notably meats.  There, it unveiled the exclusionary Great Moms Sweepstakes, running now through November.

No, it has nothing to do with Mother’s Day, and yes, anyone can enter – which means that a dad could be named a “great mom” and receive $5,000 in free groceries.

It’s hard to fathom just how Armour – founded in 1867 by two men – could create a campaign that ignores fathers contributions in today’s equality-seeking world.  Digital salt is rubbed in the wound when Armour uses its website to try and justify its oddly named contest:

Join us as we honor Great Moms – the everyday unsung heroes who give their all for their family and ask for nothing in return. We are celebrating and surprising deserving moms nationwide all year. Follow along on our website and Facebook Page for news and updates from our events.

To be sure, moms deserve those kind words in entirety – but so do dads.

Imagine you’re a dad who’s just read that text, and you’re thinking about all the work you’ve done to help raise your kids:  diapers changed, stories read, baths given, shopping trips made, youth sports attended, gifts bought, meals cooked, snacks made – and it has all been overlooked.  Your contribution means nothing.  So why should you continue buying its products?  You probably won’t, which is unfortunate.armour2.png

Ignoring dad’s contribution as an equally unsung hero disregards his status as a true, equal parent.

Armour even awkwardly uses photos of men (dads?) on its Facebook page to promote the contest.  And how strange will it look if a dad ends up being its winner?

The entire Armour campaign is a missed opportunity to celebrate parenting – not just moms – because we all know that roles are different in families now, and that they all come in different shapes and sizes.

Someone needs to tell Luvs that dads change diapers

When Huggies unveiled its infamous Dad Test campaign in 2012, the negative reaction was swift enough for Huggies to make an immediate change in its marketing approach.  The ripple effect was wide, as plenty of ad agencies learned an abrupt lesson:  dads are not buffoons.

But just because dads were being used less and less as the butt of advertising jokes doesn’t mean they had instantly achieved equal footing with moms.  Nearly five years after the Huggies debacle, dads have yet to be treated like true parents in the world of marketing.

luvs2.jpgTake a look at the website of Luvs diapers, which unveiled material putting the emphasis on mom as the lead parent.  In today’s modern, dual-parenting, two-parent-working-world, it’s hard to imagine Luvs would actually relegate dads to the backseat quite like this.

luvs1.jpgLuvs’s website speaks only to moms on exactly three of its front page sliders by excluding dads as equivalent, equal, identical parents in more ways than one – even to the startling point of exclaiming its diaper as the “Official Diaper of Experienced Moms.”

None of this comes as much of a stretch when you realize that its parent company – P&G – also brought us the highly exclusionary Thank You Mom Olympic campaign, which no doubt made dads cringe while being disregarded as equal child-raising parents during the world’s largest athletic competition. More likely, it sent shockwaves down the spines of dads, who like moms, spent many late afternoons, evenings and weekends shipping their children to incessant practices and games.

luvs5.jpgThe exclusion continues on its Facebook page, where it gracelessly invites only mothers to join in on the Luvs conversation, leaving dads everywhere in the dust.  Moreover, it offers Momojis as part of its “Official Keyboard of Experienced Parents.”  Here Luvs makes the unpleasant mistake of insisting that mom is an exact literal synonym for parent, when we all know that parents luvs4include both moms and dads.

In other words, all parents aren’t only moms.

With competitors Huggies and Pampers also offering mom-only sections on their respective websites with no comparable dad counterpart, they too insist that only moms change diapers, leaving dads to wonder what it takes to get respect in the parenting world.

It’s a surprising slow-to-change world when it comes to marketing to parents, but here’s hoping Luvs will make some quick and easy edits by spreading equal amounts of its name to both genders before its curious approach reaches Huggies proportions.

luvs3.jpg

Dads are parents, too

mylicon1We’ve heard more than one SAHD’s story about being left out of the conversation while at the local park amongst a group of SAHMs.  And for a dad to get invited to a SAHMs’ playgroup – that’s even less likely to happen.  It’s hard to say if this is the norm, but it happens.

And, it’s unfortunate and unavoidable.

But when the topic is childcare, and a company purposely creates a moms-only club without a dad counterpart?

That’s blatant sexism.  The featured ad – found in a parents magazine, natch – recently caught our eye.  It doesn’t even bother relinquishing dad to the assistant role, it downright ignores him.

Over at mylicon.com, it only gets worse, where it offers Mylicon Moms, yet no similar club for dads.  Read the language on this page; look how Mylicon completely ignores fathers and makes them feel like outsiders:

Receive a free product sample, promotional information and advice from other moms when you subscribe to our Mylicon® Moms newsletter. All you have to do is share your contact information and join other moms who answer our posted question below.

How can a dad feel like one with this kind of treatment?  And all this, from a company that claims to offer an “unparalleled experience for consumers.”

Really?  Dads are consumers, and “unparalleled” means “having no equal.”  Sadly, Mylicon has equals, but for all the wrong reasons – among companies who continue to disregard dad as an equal parent.

It’s another example of exclusionary marketing that screams of old fashioned ignorance and chauvinism, as if dads can’t, don’t, or won’t handle basic family health care.

Mylicon, please do what is right, and include dad as part of your marketing mission – because dads who know, know there’s other options for painful gas.

Getting burned by sunscreen

coppertone5.jpg

Somewhere, at this very moment in time, a dad is being treated differently simply because he’s a dad.

  • “It’s impressive how you brought the baby to the store all by yourself.”
  • You cooked that?  Your wife didn’t help you?”
  • That’s not how you fold the diaper.  Let me show you the right way.”
  • “Who ironed your shirt so nice for you?”

And now, apparently, you can add sunscreen to the list of things dads aren’t capable of handling.

Here we have another sexist ad from Coppertone, who negates dad as an equal parent.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time Coppertone has pulled the dads-don’t-care-about-their-childrens’-skin stunt.  And just this past May we wrote about Aveeno Baby, who also doesn’t believe fathers are equal parents.

coppertone3.pngIf you follow the ad’s instructions and take time to visit coppertone.com, there you’ll find a scrolling slide titled “Family,” which continues the sexist notion that mom is in the parental lead.

Yet on its Facebook page, Coppertone makes the awkwardly contradictory pledge:  “Coppertone, part of Bayer, is committed to bringing families the promise of better suncare for better summers.”

So, Coppertone, is dad part of the family or not?

Rather than employing “Finding Dory” as its latest promotion, perhaps Coppertone should have used “Finding Dad.”

Is that dad? In a breastfeeding ad? It’s no fad

Although the basic concept of breastfeeding will never change – yes, it’s still exclusive to women – Medela feels the industry is ripe for reinvention. medela1

As one of the global leaders in breastfeeding technology, Medela recently strengthened its industry mettle by spending the past 10 months doing something many firms thoughtlessly overlook:  communicating with customers.

However, Medela didn’t simply monitor various social media sites – it actually conversed, interacted and listened.

The result was a wildly successful “Through It All” campaign that revealed something else companies also fail to notice:  dads matter, even when it comes to breastfeeding.

“We really wanted to make sure our fathers were a part of this,” said Kim Aasen, director of marketing. “Even though (dads) can’t physically breastfeed, (they’re) an important part of that conversion. They’re important to the breastfeeding circle.”

An idea is born

medela-KimAasen_MR

 

Kim Aasen, Medela

 

Last September, Medela started asking moms on its Facebook community one straightfoward question:  when it comes to breastfeeding, what would you share with another new mom? Aasen said the response was overwhelming, as many talked of a network, or community of breastfeeding support that might include a spouse, grandma, or friend.

After those key months of taking valuable customer inventory, Medela revealed its marketing idea complete with a print campaign and series of videos which tell the story of real people and their breastfeeding journey.

“We made sure we featured those people along the way, and you can see those people featured in the (print) ad,” Aasen said, who also noted that Medela overwhelmingly heard from moms who insist dads play an integral role in breastfeeding success. “We listened to make sure we are reflecting who our Medela communities are. (Fathers) are caregivers and part of the breastfeeding experience, so we want to make sure that everyone is represented.”

Let reality dictate strategy

Although society encapsulates the topic via the word breastfeeding, that equally applies to one who is breastpumping – which, of course, allows other people to feed the child.

medela-Justa 9-Heinen-LR.JPG

 

Behind-the-scenes at a “Through It All” campaign video shoot. Copyright Medela 2016.

 

“We want to make sure that we don’t think there is one right way to do it,” Aasen said. “We want to make sure moms and dads and families – whatever that family looks like – that there is no one perfect way to do it.”

Medela also let the customer feedback drive the campaign. It wasn’t intent on following societal norms, advertising history, stereotypes, or even demographic models – it simply felt its campaign should reflect reality.

“By listening to our community’s focus groups, dads are a part of the picture,” Aasen said. “For us, we feel like it’s reflecting reality. We’re just sharing their words back. The pictures you see online shows everyday life.”

Dads count too

As for the future, Aasen said its current campaign is squarely in phase one, which was “different than anything Medela had ever done.” Plans moving forward will continue to include a reflection of what real, modern families look like and how they make breastfeeding work for them.

On the flip side of breastfeeding is formula feeding, where some of its makers exclude fathers from its messaging.

Aasen believes companies who don’t include dads in ads should take heed:  (Those) companies are missing out. It’s not cookie cutter; (families) comes in all shapes and sizes, as do responsibilities.”

medela-DSC_9816-Brown-LR

 

Video crews record footage for Medela’s “Through It All” campaign.  Copyright Medela 2016.

 

 

Do you say ‘my kids’ or ‘our kids’? The difference is big

For those of you who have children:  when you talk about your kids to others, do you refer to them as “my kids” or “our kids”?noodleandboo1

It’s a major difference, and that distinction of one word says a lot.  The former connotes a more possessive or singular approach, whereas the latter sends a signal of togetherness and unity.  If you use the “my” term, it may seem harmless and might be completely unintentional, but it conveys a certain message – like it or not – to others and to your partner.

Take a look at Noodle & Boo, makers of luxurious baby and pregnancy skin care.  The product is found at high-end retailers, coveted by Hollywood stars, and it generally adheres to an impressive and upstanding company mission statement while supporting several charitable causes.

Now check out its latest ad, where it mentions “Only the best will do for her baby,” and the “first 100 mamas to follow @noodleandboollc and tag #mamaprofile with your favorite photo of you and baby…”

Isn’t the baby his, too?noodleandboo2

noodleandboo3Don’t dads use social media?

We can’t deny that some products and ads are marketed toward a certain gender, especially pregnancy skin care.  However, this ad was printed in a parents magazine.  And this particular product line it’s selling in this ad – it’s for babies.  That child is to be raised by parents, which includes dads.  No marketing piece should ever exclude dads and make them to be the lesser parent, as if they don’t matter.  Using the word “parent” instead of “mama” won’t make or break the business model, and it won’t make a female look away in disgust.

But it will make a dad feel included, feel like he matters to a company, and will make him take notice.

Believe us when we say dads notice.  Take a look on social media to find all the dads fully engaged in marketing messages and how they’re portrayed by retailers.  Old Navy, Huggies, Jif, Amazon – these are just a few of the companies that have been singled out by dads through viral campaigns to get them to change their ways.

It’s disappointing to see the exclusion in word choice and via advertisement photos, but that practice continues at its website, where a dad is nearly non-existent – save for a few celebrity dads it uses to sell its line of products.

When it comes to parenting, let’s hope Noodle & Boo acknowledges all the dads out there, because with Noodle & Boo, only the best will do, and dads count too.

Here’s a case for combining Mother’s and Father’s Day into one holiday

family2Last month on Mother’s Day, we overheard a young dad offering well wishes to a fellow friend, an elderly mom.  The mom extended a kind “thanks” in return, and then shared with a smile:

“Mother’s Day, Father’s Day – they’re really the same thing.  We should just have one ‘Parents Day,’ because parents raise kids together these days.  Everyone has the same job.  We’re all celebrating today, and I hope you have a great day, too!”

That’s some seriously wise knowledge from a veteran mother.

This mom was probably born about a decade after women finally gained the right to vote, so she’s seen changing societal roles and struggles for equality – all while being raised during a time when women didn’t typically work outside the home.

If any person has a reason to be set in her ways or subscribe to old-fashioned thinking, it would be her.

Yet instead, she has it all figured out.  She gets it.  She knows parenting isn’t a one-sided affair where one gender takes the lead, the other serves as an assistant or part-time helper.  She knows dads are just as competent, instinctual, effective and equal as moms when it comes to parenting.

Why don’t companies and their marketing employees think the same?

Technically, there is a Parents’ Day in the United States, held on the fourth Sunday of July.  However, that holiday hardly has the traction of its individual counterparts.

The truth is, we need holidays to celebrate each parental unit.  Moms and dads are different, and they parent different – and we say celebrate that.

So, let’s keep things the way they are, but recognize that no holiday is more important than the other.  We all have a father and a mother, whether we know them or not.

They deserve a day to be honored individually.

And they’re equal parents in every way.