With great ‘Power Up’ comes great responsibility

Over two years ago, Jif started to let go of one of the most recognizable and old-fashioned, exclusionary slogans marketing has ever seen.

That slogan – “Choosy Moms Choose Jif” – was beginning to disappear from television ads, print material and its website. Specifically, the removal from its main menu and relative prominence of the website offered a powerful sign that Smucker’s, its parent company, might actually be eliminating a sexist vibe from its messaging.

The switch was a positive implication to dads that they finally mattered as parents and customers, and that the company was at last recognizing today’s modern family. The shuttering of the slogan indicated that Jif was serious about modernizing, catching up to the times and maximizing profit.jif22.jpg

But then it introduced a new product, and how easy it went back to its old ways. Behold Jif Power Ups, a bite-size snack that’s portable and convenient. It looks tasty enough, but taste can be a funny thing when it’s genderized. Then it’s just in poor taste.

That’s because Jif went back to its old ways by declaring the product offers “the goodness moms want.” While leaving dad out may seem like an innocent omission, the fact remains that Jif has a history of targeting who it wants as customers, and it’s sliding back to its old routine. It’s an unfortunate truth, especially as dads remain ever viable as parents and shoppers in a crowded field of grocers. Dads want to be treated as a member of the family, and they will when advertisers begin to use their power to exert control and influence over behavior in a positive fashion.

Until then, society has to wait while Jif trumpets the old-school notion that mom is the lead parent, with reality constantly proving otherwise.

If you head over to its Power Ups product page, you’ll surprisingly find some much needed inclusive language, plus humor from famed funnyman Neil Patrick Harris — who just happens to be a dad. If he knew of Jif’s marketing exclusion, it’s doubtful he’d be laughing, nor wanting to sponsor a product that doesn’t even consider him a primary target audience.

Dads are a crucial and equal part of the family, and they want goodness as much as anyone. It’s time for change, Jif.

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Inclusivity wins: Kix phasing out old slogan

Its “Kid-Tested. Mother-Approved” slogan has adorned the box of Kix since 1978, but the famous multinational manufacturer has finally succumbed to the voices of fathers nationwide. General Mills quietly revised its long-standing motto with a new “Kid-Tested. Parent-Approved” saying that adorns its familiar and newly updated yellow Kix box.kix10-e1536595146302.jpg“Kix is excited to announce that we have updated our slogan to ‘Kid-Tested. Parent-Approved,’” said Mike Siemienas, General Mills spokesperson. “This new slogan is more inclusive as the word ‘parent’ applies to the individuals raising children.”

The new era begins after 40 years of proclaiming – through a familiar television commercial jingle – that “Kids love Kix for what Kix has got. Moms love Kix for what Kix has not.” In more recent years, dads regularly took to social media to voice displeasure, but those pleadings went largely unrecognized.

Siemienas said the updated slogan and new box “worked out well” so that both happened at the same time.

General Mills has yet to phase out the slogan entirely. Its Kix page at generalmills.com still trumpets the previous wording, and kixcereal.com not only contains the old slogan, but old box logos. Siemienas added that General Mills is working on updates to company websites.

For now, dads are overwhelmingly pleased with the Kix change. The National At-Home Dad Network – a volunteer-run, nonprofit which provides support, education and advocacy for stay-at-home dads – lauded the change on their Twitter page.

Kix boxes with the old slogan will likely still appear on store shelves, but any new boxes being produced have the new wording, according to Siemienas.

The box revision comes on the heels of a similar switch in the United Kingdom by Kellogg’s after pressure from dads who complained of its exclusionary Coco Pops box.

Don’t formula makers realize that dads feed babies, too?

No matter how often we view it, it’s always a surprise to see formula makers ignore dads as equal parents. Dads can’t physically breastfeed, but they certainly can formula feed. And they buy formula. A lot of it.

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As such, one would think dads should be huge targets for laser-focused marketing that capitalizes on the influence of fathers and formula feeding. Dads could be the primary ambassadors for a product that formula makers could woo in order to assist them in promoting healthy formula feeding.

Nope. Almost every formula manufacturer still disregards dads as parents who feed babies. Take a look at the site revamp of Enfamil, where you’ll find a bit of irony on its Better Together page.

First, it exclaims: “The world outside is full of things that divide us.” Yep, things like websites — and marketing campaigns, hashtags, imagery and menu tabs. In fact, there isn’t much to find that’s inviting on its site for fathers looking for content about the products they’re using to feed their children.

Second, it indicates that “…we are raising the next generation of extraordinary men and women.” Also true. But these eventual extraordinary men will be disregarded upon becoming dads by the very company that celebrates them.

Third, it speaks of “uniting” throughout its website. Um, right. Most of it looks like a divide. Dads are creating, expecting, growing, feeding and nurturing babies every bit as moms, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at the Enfamil site.

Perhaps Enfamil could invite some of its paying customers to talk about their experiences as parents.

Enfamil won’t have to look far. Those customers are the same ones who get up in the night and take on feedings whenever needed. They’re the ones who read nutrition labels and care about exactly what they’re feeding their children. They’re the ones who want support and want to share it. They’re the ones who work at a job that helps to pay for the formula.

They’re dads.

A hook that’s only for moms?

There have been plenty of pointlessly gendered products before, but a hook?mommyhook.jpg

The Mommy Hook is a useful tool that clips easily onto a stroller and allows you to get your bags anywhere without needing extra hands. It’s simple, inexpensive and clever enough that you might just want to get your hands on one.

Although we weren’t aware of The Mommy Hook until recently, a friendly parent brought it to our attention. In fact, she tweeted that she refused to buy it on principle: “I didn’t buy @themommyhook because my husband pushes the stroller and needs hooks to carry groceries or whatever just as much as I do. Got another brand instead.”

Alas, it isn’t hard to get another brand. The Mommy Hook is a fantastic product, but it’s essentially a carabiner – something you can buy just about anywhere.

The exclusionary name is particularly surprising when you discover that it was created by a dad. We contacted the company to learn more, but were met with no response.

Let’s hope The Mommy Hook can consider a name change before both moms and dads start to give it the hook.

Marketing innovation starts with acknowledging the modern world

Company evolution and innovation is the hallmark of any successful operation, but such progress is muffled when weighed down by a tagline that harkens to a bygone era. While companies create slogans to market their products, many remain convinced that dads haven’t changed, and so the simple solution is to keep the communication the same. dadcooks.jpg

The message never changes.

Therein lies the problem: society has changed and today’s dad is an involved consumer like never before. More importantly, he’s an active parent. With that brings a vocational conviction that stretches beyond serving merely as a breadwinner and secondary parent. Dad is an equal family player and meaningful parent in every way, shape, form and instinct – every bit as mom.

As a result, the consequences of ignoring dad as an equal and competent parent are catching up to the corporate world. While competitors offer new brands that speak to evolving and discriminating purchasers, companies are realizing that they cannot rest on the laurels of past success and generations of loyal customers. Customers are changing, both in terms of age and demographics. It’s clearly a different ballgame now, and a failure to keep up with today’s modern parenting realm means a loss of precious revenue and market share.

There are also unintended negative effects on the matron targets of current corporate campaigns. The harm here is that it places unwanted pressure on mom, who of course is now increasingly found in the workforce. No, she doesn’t want to have to place her stamp of approval on everything. She doesn’t want to be the sole decision-maker, nor does she want to be forced into the habit of thinking that becoming a better mom involves choosing the proper peanut butter.

While the 1950s mom ran the household almost entirely alone as dad provided the monetary support, the world is different now. Today, mom has a balanced counterpart in the parental world. Neither is in the lead or usurps the other.

This person, of course, is dad.

Another consequence of ignoring dad in marketing is not only the degradation of fatherhood, but also motherhood and parenthood. Continuing to portray dads as incompetent shoppers, substitute parents for moms, or part-time sidekicks is an insult to moms. It questions the mom’s choice she made to become a professional woman. It’s she who desires to focus on providing the best for her family and reach her utmost career potential instead of staying at home with the kids. It also belittles her decision to marry the man she chose to be her husband and father of their children. No matter how you add it up, the commutative law of addition still yields the same result. Motherhood + fatherhood or fatherhood + motherhood – both equal parenthood.

The good news is company and marketing executives have the power to change how they view dads as parents, as well as consumers of products and services. Even better news is that dads continue to be an evolving and growing target market.

How ‘mom panels’ only tell half the story

Everyone keeps telling us the days of traditional gender roles are long gone.

They say men care for and nurture children, just as women work outside the home. Both parents contribute no matter what task needs done, because the lines are blurred and times are different now.

Ask around your circle of family and friends, and chances are those perceived dynamics match the real world. Moms and dads do indeed share responsibilities, but that’s not how the corporate world sees it. There, particularly in the realm of marketing and media, you’ll find a different story where stereotypes are held onto, where there’s a belief that only mom runs the show.chickfila2.jpg

That’s never been more evident than with the Chick-fil-A Moms Panel, a corporate initiative which works to bring moms news and announcements, gather feedback on future programs, and provide exclusive opportunities and gifts.

The program is driven through BSM Media, a marketing and media company that specifically focuses on connecting brands with moms.

The Chick-fil-A Moms Panel is believed to have close to 1,000 moms on this year’s panel. That’s a lot of moms who can help Chick-fil-A learn more about their offerings and the way they address customer service.chickfila3.jpg

The only problem? It’s forgetting half of the parenting equation.

Last year’s industry-first book, “DADLY Dollar$,” revealed several interesting facts about dads. A 2015 qualitative study by consumer insights firm iModerate indicated that dads make impromptu purchases first based on price. But there are other reasons. One reason is that they want to reward their children for good behavior, accomplishments, or even to avoid an in-store meltdown. In addition, they also like to give their families treats, either to celebrate events, reduce home tension, or indulge loved ones. They also do so out of convenience, for the sake of planning, and to anticipate items they might need.chickfila4.jpg

If money issues are often at the root of couples’ arguments, it may not prove who is right or wrong, but it at least proves this: dads have a hand on how money is spent.

Operating a moms-only panel isn’t only about ignoring half of its customers, it’s about losing out on potential revenue and the opportunity to learn how today’s modern families spend money.

Company founder Truett Cathy insisted, “We should be about more than just selling chicken. We should be a part of our customers’ lives…”

Rather than focusing on missed opportunities, we see Chick-fil-A as having a new opportunity to be a part of dads’ lives. In fact, there’s no better way for this family-owned business to remind everyone that families also include dads.

What happens when you dare to think outside the juice box

This past spring we had a spirited social media discussion with a fine, dedicated dad over our mission. Among other things, this dad asked, “Who cares who juice boxes get marketed to?”

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He argued that only a small percentage of dads care, so small that it doesn’t justify considering dads as an ignored group. It was a bit surprising to hear these remarks from a father, so let’s take a moment to address this today.

There is power in marketing that can completely change society as well as societal views. If it were perceived through marketing that, an active and involved dad is “the norm,” it would make sense that a dad’s desire to be a more active and involved parent and shopper would increase.

Since the 1990s, fatherhood has evolved, and today an active and involved dad is, indeed, the norm. This evolution of fatherhood is a direct result of the changing workforce as more and more moms have taken up work outside of the home, more and more dads are cutting their hours or staying home part- or full-time with the kids; thus, moms are becoming primary breadwinners, too. This parental unit demographic desperately wants, and needs, to feel accepted for their decisions. As such, if dads are comfortable in the shopping and buying experience, they will do more of it voluntarily.juicyjuice34.jpg

In today’s modern family, dad is now also in charge of buying groceries, clothes, school supplies, and other products and services the family needs to exist. A dad also needs to see he is a trustworthy purchasing agent for his family. The best way to do this is to involve him in the marketing process and value him as an equal parent as well as a valued customer.

By marketing directly to moms as in, the “mom-tested” mindset, it reinforces an archaic stereotype and subliminally makes a dad feel that the mom is a better/leading parent. It also makes the mom feel as though she shouldn’t have re-entered the workforce, and by her doing so she is less of a mother. This is insulting to moms and dads, but yet it continues.juicyjuice35.jpg

Change is hard, especially if it’s an idea or venture one has never explored before, like marketing to dads. Changing the way we view, treat, and market to dads is necessary because there is a lot at stake.

Dads represent half the parenting population. That equates to a significant loss of revenue and profit for companies and businesses not catering to the dad demographic. Also at risk is the image of dads as parents for this and future generation of boys and girls who will eventually become parents and consumers.

Our mission here is encourage all of us to change the way we think about, view, and treat dads. It is our hope that we’ll help companies and businesses capitalize on the benefits of marketing products and services to today’s active, involved dads. The case to include dads in advertising goes far beyond monetary gain. Society stands to benefit from a world that acknowledges dads as equal, competent parents. In fact, children, marriages, and the entire parenting community will all reap the rewards of dad inclusion.

Just like the Mr. Mom label, all of this is a big deal when you look at the larger picture. No person should be subject to a label that implies incompetency or reduces his or her value as a person or part of the family. We’ve never heard workforce moms referred to as “Mrs. Dad.” If someone did, we’d also find that degrading to motherhood. One of our recurring messages is that words matter!

Simply put, we’re merely asking others to think outside the juice box.