A product made by a man, but doesn’t want men to buy it

drsmithWhen a couple becomes pregnant (let’s not get too literal on that statement, by the way), it’s the woman who gains instant adulation by way of carrying the child. The wife will probably pick out new maternity clothes, possibly host a baby shower, request certain special foods and physically start to change. It’s a wonderful, exciting time.

The husband’s life will change too, but the lack of attention can easily make a dad feel shut out.

It’s one thing for dads to feel left out, but another to actually experience it.

I know of a man who was about to become a dad again, and he was thrilled as ever to be a part of the process. But when it came time for the actual hospital birth, he became the invisible man.

From the moment he arrived with his wife at the hospital, no one greeted him, talked to him, asked him how excited he was, inquired to see if he had any questions, took the time to get to know him, told him what he could do to help, or acknowledged him in any way.

No one. Not a doctor, nurse, assistant, or anyone else in the room.

The first interaction he had with anyone on that joyous day was when he initiated it by asking a nurse if he could hold his new baby.

Now I’ll admit, communication is a two-way street and this wasn’t their first child, but the hospital clearly calls the shots and dictates the flow of the procedure. Part of the delivery day, which involves plenty of waiting, should be geared toward having the hospital staff going out of their way to purposely involve the dad in some way. He made that baby happen, too, and is responsible in complete, equal fashion.

This true story reminds me of another doctor, who makes a regrettable point to ignore dads everywhere in its latest ad.

Dr. Smith’s ointment and spray assumes that dads don’t take care of babies, and it doesn’t stop in this September 2014 American Baby magazine ad. Take a gander at their website to read (and watch) more of this dad exclusion:

  • A heading which reads, “Pediatrician Developed. Mom Approved.”
  • A separate menu tab with “Mom Reviews.”
  • “For more than 50 years, moms have known about how well Dr. Smith’s® works…”
  • “Moms have lots to say about how well Dr. Smith’s works for them…”
  • “See what these in-the-know moms have experienced…”
  • Testimonials from moms, but not a single testimonial from even one dad.

And we haven’t even mentioned the print ad (pictured above – click to enlarge), which excludes dad not once, but twice.

I’m sure the product works fine, Dr. Smith is probably a nice guy and no one meant any harm.

But that’s exactly the problem: no one ever means any harm, they just didn’t realize, or forgot, or omitted, or passed over, or assumed, or overlooked. That’s what happens to dad all the time.

Dads have been forgotten for years, and it’s time to start acknowledging that they are involved with pregnancies, taking care of babies and child-rearing.

The possibility always exists that the marketing team intentionally left dads off the ad and their website in order to market solely to moms. How sad that would be, because Dr. Smith is a man himself, and a doctor should know better.

Dads count too, Dr. Smith. You probably even treated a future one in your pediatric office back in the day.

What do you say about changing your marketing messages as fast as your ointment supposedly works?

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Growing pains

nutrientsforlifeIn the grand marketplace of life, there are some aisles relatively free of dad exclusion.

True, we’ve seen marketers spoil campaigns for all kind of products and services, but we know we’ll especially find blunders, for example, with those items revolving around child rearing: lunch items, diapers, juice boxes, cereal.

It’s not that we’re giving these companies a free pass, it’s just that our expectations are so low. Put another way, you expect to see garbage in a landfill; anything else is a surprise.

But then there are products that are hard to mess up. I mean, how could any organization who promotes fertilizer really be guilty of dad exclusion? We’re talking fertilizer!

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Nutrients for Life Foundation, a group whose mission is to “provide science-based information that helps educate people about the beneficial role of fertilizer.”

It seems like an admirable group, and their recipe card is actually quite novel in how it reminds us that fertilizer is needed to help the apples (used in the recipe) grow.

The truth is that NFLF probably meant no harm. This isn’t Kix cereal or Jif Peanut Butter, who actively make no bones about who they want to buy their product.

However, their cute message to “thank mom for the cookies” continues to perpetuate an old-fashioned stereotype, a myth that the kitchen is a place only for mothers (an assertion I’m sure many moms would dislike), and thus dads get excluded in the process.

NFLF’s website boldly proclaims that “Growth Begins with Education,” and thankfully dadmarketing believes the same: growth among marketers for dad inclusion begins with educating them about why this topic is so important.

The good news is that NFLF seems to know a thing or two about recipes, and how you can tinker with the formula to make it even better. The same applies to marketing.

What do you say NFLF?

No trust = no relationship

Baby Depot at Burlington claims to “carry the most Mom-trusted brands” anywhere.

Who says they’re Mom-trusted?babydepot

If it’s Baby Depot at Burlington, I’d beg to differ. I don’t see any asterisk with tiny print at the bottom indicating this assertion is based on some recent study or survey.

If it’s moms, I’d also question that greatly. Do moms trust the brands, or are they simply buying them based on a sudden need combined with the right timing, store location and sale price?

The word trust is a meaningful and intense one, and it shouldn’t be tossed around so carelessly. As stated at Dictionary.com, trust is “reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.”

I know of couples, married for many years, who sadly wouldn’t say, “I trust you.” I know high school teenagers who say “I love you” at the drop of a hat, but uttering the “trust” word is something different. That elevates a relationship to different level.

Why does I love you – arguably the ultimate expression of care for someone – have to be so flippant sometimes and much easier to say than I trust you?

We find the word trust on coins. We read it in the Bible. We hear it at weddings.

It connotes feelings of confidence, belief, hope, care.

But dads are none of these, or Baby Depot at Burlington would have said so in its latest ad. They would have said that their brands are also Dad-trusted in this October 2014 American Baby magazine ad. Why must companies continue to exclude dads from advertising as they await the birth of their child? Aren’t dads expecting the baby too? Aren’t dads part of the growing family?

Who knows, maybe Baby Depot at Burlington will get it right in their next ad.

I doubt it, though – I don’t trust them.

Not cool-ish

Coming up next week on ABC’s new sitcom, “Black-ish”: Black-ish-TV-series-ABC-logo-key-art-320x180

Hilarity ensues when Rainbow grows bored of being the stay-at-home mom and wants to get a job. But the plan backfires after Rainbow’s husband Dre tells her that her place is in the kitchen – and so does every potential employer with whom she tries to interview! Rainbow also wants to play in an adult softball league, but then it dawns on her that women can’t play sports! Once Rainbow finally realizes her place in life, she goes back to cooking, doing laundry and waiting on her family. It’s non-stop laughs from start to finish in what might be the most funny sitcom episode in the history of television – that’s “Black-ish” next Wednesday on ABC!

No, that isn’t a real promo for next week’s “Black-ish.” No one would dare dream of such a storyline.

But why is it ok the other way around?

In this past Wednesday’s episode, why was Dre made out to be the goofy dad who does next to nothing around the house? And then, when he tries to take on the so-called mom duties (itself a mockery) and switch roles, why does he have to fail miserably?

The episode certainly had its funny moments, but turning dad into a lazy, childlike character and belittling his duties in the home weren’t among them.

It has been 31 years since the “Mr. Mom” movie and we’ve made no progress whatsoever. That attitude in the entertainment world spills right into the commercials you watch and ads you read, where dad still plays assistant to the wiser mom, nodding approvingly to every decision she makes.

Even today, Hollywood still can’t find a better role for dad than mere comic relief.

Anthony Anderson as Dre is fantastic, and “Black-ish” seems like a fun sitcom with promise, but let’s hope they offer the character a little more dignity as a father – then maybe everyone can laugh with dad, and not at him.

Dirty laundry

Once again in the ad world, we find that dads don’t exist.dreft1

This time the guilty party is Dreft, who believes that dads don’t fit the gentle, soft, sweet nature of their detergent. Dreft no doubt figured it was much easier to leave dads out of this October 2014 Parents magazine ad, because the ad copy is so gentle, soft and sweet that we figure there’s no way a dad and his rough, tough demeanor could have been a part of writing it.

In fact, had a dad penned it, this is how the ad might have ended up:

EVERY DAY IS AMAZING, isn’t it dads? You’ll never forget the first time you caressed that impossibly shiny beer bottle’s glass, stroked that smooth new golf club you bought, and breathed in the sweet smell of buffalo wings delivered to your man cave by your doting wife. From the very first dreft2moment, the tiny feet on your smart phone holder left a giant footprint on your heart…and you swore you’d protect everything that made you a guy forever.

That’s why, for 80 years, dads haven’t taken care of their kids, but rather have done what they wanted to, when they wanted to, keeping the same schedule and lifestyle as when they were single – it’s a formula that’s tough on the family, but gentle enough for your buddies. Hyper-active while at the sports bar with an outdoorsy-smelling scent, dads bring cuddle time rarely at home, because they really don’t do any level of warm and fuzzy.

DadsR’ntUs

babiesrusIt’s one thing to diss dads throughout fatherhood, but it takes real chutzpa to do it while the baby hasn’t even come out of the mother’s womb.

And that’s exactly what BabiesRUs accomplished as they effectively discounted at least 18 million dads with one swift blow.

We recently came across the The Big Baby Book from BabiesRUs (Winter 2013/14 edition), a self-promotion sales catalog disguised as a magazine.

The odd thing is, it starts off so amazingly, refreshingly strong with a super cool image and ad copy to back it up. Note the inside cover showing a photo of both mom and dad with the words, “Congratulations! You’re having a baby!”

Here we’re obligated to extend extra bonus points to BabiesRUs for getting it right on at least one page (pictured). Because mom carries the baby, so often those you’re having a baby words are only directed to her, leaving the dad behind and made to feel like he’s not a part of the pregnancy. It was neat to babiesrus2see an ad extend congrats to both parents for once, especially the words, “You’re having a baby!”  Nice to see a company make a dad feel like a part of the pregnancy.

Well done, Backwards R.

However, it goes downhill from there. Turn the page and you’ll find a special pull-out page with the words, “Moms’ #1 Baby Registry.” If you missed it there, don’t worry, the words are repeated a few pages later. And throughout the 98 pages you’ll encounter a total of 20 images of moms compared to a mere five dads. Dads care for and raise kids, so why the off-balance ratio? It’s just not right, BabiesRUs.

Finally, if that isn’t enough to make dads shoulders feel a little cold, the back cover slams home with certainty who exactly BabiesRUs wants to shop with them as they pronounce, “BabiesRUs registry: Chosen by 18 million moms…and counting!”

Over on our Twitter site we often use the hashtag #dadscounttoo.

Yes indeed, BabiesRUs, dads do count, too. Hopefully you’ll start counting them as a part of your customer base someday soon.

Pillow talk

If you’ve never heard of a Boppy, it’s a unique product that was originally created as a baby support pillow, but also can be used to prop a baby during feedings.boppy

The concept is wonderful, and during its brief history has enjoyed a great deal of national publicity through TV shows, magazines and celebrity plugs.

The company appears knows a thing or two about creating a good product that works, but when it comes to marketing, they’re one of the worst offenders we’ve seen when it comes to some serious, major league dad omission.

In the Boppy’s world, dads are not present, plain and simple. Mothers should be greatly offended by this extreme, unwarranted dad exclusion, for it’s their husbands whom Boppy is shunning. Let’s take a look at how they reached this woeful state.

Slogan

Support for all Momkind? We could see a motto like this making the grade, even being somewhat acceptable, at least two or more generations ago. Take Jif and Kix – it’s not like their slogans are proper or right or appropriate, because they remain 100 percent offensive and outdated. But even though they’re both like the Washington Redskins (refusing to change out of stubbornness) at least those old school slogans were born during an era when saying those things might have been customary once upon a time (like using a name such as Redskins).

The Boppy was invented in 1989! How can a company actually make this an official slogan in this modern era, let alone copyright it, all against better judgment in a world that demands equality? Boppy manages to downgrade fatherhood with a simple four word slogan, if not completely banish it, from their one-sided marketing mission. That’s one giant leap backward for all of humankind.

Mom Center

Here we have yet another website with a “moms-only” section. We get the fact that men and women are different as parents, but why exclude dads? Can’t dads feed babies with Boppies, too? Sure they can.

We’ve sent similar thoughts to other companies who respond with things like, “Yes, dads are our heroes too and we’ll take a look at it,” or “Check out this special dad section we created for Father’s Day.”

Why a special section? Why do something only once a year when the calendar tells you to think of dads in June? How about just calling it a “For Parents” section?

25th anniversary

Take a look at the “25 Years!” menu tab on the website, which doesn’t invite dads to the celebration in any way. There you’ll find a giant photo of mom with baby and the script, “We’re celebrating 25 YEARS of supporting mom & baby.”

As long as Boppy thrives on stereotypes, we’ll offer one as we pose this question: if dads are supposedly the providers and earned the money to buy the Boppy, can’t the company at least acknowledge this notion and offer a simple “thanks” for purchasing it in the first place?

Apparently not, because…

There are no dads anywhere

You can’t find even one dad photo anywhere at boppy.com, unless you consider the degrading drawing of ignorant Abe Lincoln putting the Boppy on his head like some clueless dad. And no, we don’t count the guy in the Martha Stewart photo or the two male employees – who knows if they’re dads? We’d like to see an even 50-50 ratio of dad stock photos with moms.

Aren’t dads equal parents, too?

Would Lowe’s or Home Depot ever dream of featuring all dads/men on their site accompanied by a sexist slogan like, “Support for all dadkind”? Of course not, there’d be a mom uprising, and rightly so. It wouldn’t be right.

So why does Boppy get away with it the other way around?

All the baby boys pictured on the site had better enjoy the attention while they can, because they’ll be ignored and forgotten the moment they become fathers by the very company who once featured them.

The numbers don’t lie

Boppy claims to be “beloved by over 15 million moms worldwide!” That’s an amazing statistic which should make Boppy very proud. But you know how many dads (who are potential customers) they’ve managed to ignore?

About 15 million.

You can lead a marketing department to a fruit flavored beverage, but you can’t make it drink

According to the Tum-E Yummies, “moms see goodness” and “kids see fun,” but you know what dadmarketing sees?tumeyummies

Complete senseless and meaningless dad exclusion.

The image pictured is a screen shot from the webpage of BYB Brands, a company that hasn’t quite figured itself out yet, nor its product. Or, perhaps it hasn’t really proofread its own work. In either case, it doesn’t excuse this stereotypical, stuck-in-the-past marketing disarray.

Take a look at their slogan: Create and sell brands people want!

How can this be? Their web copy doesn’t even back it up, for BYB isn’t marketing their brands to people – only mothers. Over and over on the BYB website, and at the Tum-E Yummies website, they merely address moms, not even giving dads the time of day.

There’s also a trite For Parents section, a true anomaly that could only be fashioned by a marketing department at odds with its own self. Here again, this predictable segment solely speaks to moms, a divide they created themselves by neglecting dads everywhere.

Part of their copy includes the oddities, “A mom-approved escape from the routine,” and “It’s not everyday you get to be a good mom and a fun mom,” and “Fun hydration moms and kids can agree on” – quirks by way of featuring boys on the site, future men that will be completely disregarded upon fatherhood by the very company whose drinks they enjoy.

That’s some business plan for future success, huh?

BYB apparently holds dear to the timeworn marketing impulse that moms still handle the kids, cook the meals, provide the snacks, and dads basically don’t shop.

Fortunately, poor execution (and websites) can be corrected easily.

Is BYB and Tum-E up to the task?

TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves Marketing success

applegateI think we’d all agree that sports involve some measure of teamwork. Even so-called individual sports like golf and tennis have caddies, coaches and often an army of behind-the-scenes aides to help athletes achieve their best.

Applegate could have used their sports analogy quite well in its recent cross-promotion with Stonyfield and Annie’s, but instead completely drops the ball by forgetting one of its teammates.

As we’ve seen so many times before, dads were not just left on the sidelines, they weren’t even invited to play.

Applegate calls their latest pairing with Stonyfield and Annie’s “Mom’s Dream Team for Lunch,” then uses more words to make sure dads really feel the hurt:

  • “We invited Stonyfield and Annies (sic) over for lunch!”
  • “As friends and teammates, we share the same goals.”

Let’s take a look at some of these words that must surely pain dads: invited, friends, teammates, share same goals. Applegate clearly places moms on the team, because this new pairing was already referenced earlier as Mom’s Dream Team for Lunch. Dads on the other hand, as was already established, weren’t even invited.

So, as we decipher this ad further we find that Applegate not only excludes dads, but they classify dads as playing on a different team: dads aren’t friends with Applegate; they aren’t teammates; they don’t share the same goals.

Ouch.

In sports or in business, winning is hard work. But spread around to everyone it lightens the load.

Hopefully Applegate won’t realize that too late, because losing hurts even more.

Mytake on Myworld on Mytime

I once heard someone say that there are no new ideas in marketing, just old ideas being reused over and over again.

Who can really argue with this?mygerber

Today’s version of the already 21-year-old “Got Milk?” campaign is the “Keep Calm” slogan, now printed on a t-shirt near you.

But in this personalized, me-first world, none of that is enough. Marketing must go deeper, right down to the individual user.

Today we have nearly every company tagging their business name with “My” on the front, in an attempt to individualize the customer experience, and make everyone feel like they count through their own separate, customizable world.

The My epidemic is real, and it’s everywhere: My Yahoo, My MSN, MyPanera, MyFitnessPal, My Ebay, My Apple, My Verizon, My Coke Rewards, My Garmin, My Best Buy, My Cloud, My AOL, MyLife, My Starbucks, Myspace, myHerbalife, MyScouting, My American Heart, My Dish, My NASA, myEarthLink, My Wells Fargo Rewards, My Xbox Rewards, My Cub Rewards, myPLACE, My Bayer, MyWedding.

My. Oh. My.

And when exactly did My become a positive word? Starting at a very early age, most parents are trying to rid that term from their toddlers’ language: My toy! My clothes! My cookie!

Even the overused expression selfie – an act which is hardly novel – has connotations of self-absorption.

I long for the day when a company uses the word My in less possessive, more playful sense, such as the motto, “I Want My MTV” or “My Little Pony.”

Customization isn’t anything new. Once upon a time, Burger King offered us their famous “Have It Your Way” campaign of the 1980s. But now it isn’t enough to be talked to, as Burger King once did by telling us we could have it however we wanted it – perhaps a prelude to this growing narcissistic ad world. Today’s companies are obsessed with the notion that customers must want to have it the other way around, as if we the customers are talking directly to the company by calling the shots through our own personal account and unique website.

It seems that no one wants to have it both ways and simply carry on a conversation, despite what companies may claim.

And that includes the ever dad-unfriendly realm of Gerber, who now offers the senseless MyGerber using the distinctive tagline, “For mom. For baby. From the beginning.”

This case of Gerber My disease is tragically comical. After all, there must be a dad or two employed at Gerber somewhere, yet not one of them spoke up to offer the premise that perhaps MyGerber’s tagline should also include “For dads,” too? Aren’t dads involved from the beginning through the conception of their babies?

Perhaps if companies started thinking in terms of “we,” there might be increased dialogue, mutual respect and greater understanding between businesses and customers; the label “we” would by default include dads, too.

It might even give all of us one less key fob to carry, and one less username and password to remember.