Vote of thanks

We’ve certainly read enough “what I’m thankful for” messages in the past week, so all of creation hardly needs another.thanks

However, since we focus a lot on word choices that advertisers make, if there’s one that gets overlooked and underused, it is this: thanks.

That word has the power to praise, motivate and cheer.

In a marketing world that so often targets individuality and me-first, all the while leaving fathers out of the message, it’s nice to overuse that simple word as much as you can.

Yes, dads especially love hearing it. They repeatedly get ignored by marketers who prefer to speak only to moms, thus making them feel like second-class parents who don’t matter.

We believe this week’s annual exhortation to give thanks is overstated. Giving thanks seems like such an internal, individual, private affair done only in our minds, or perhaps just before Thursday’s big meal.

And all of that is fine.

But giving thanks is one thing.

Saying it is another.

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Comparing bad apples to good oranges

We’re all looking to eat healthier in life, and judging by smarter food options that seem to be growing more readily halosavailable in the grocery and at restaurants, businesses are listening.

That’s making harder work for marketers, who’ve spent a lifetime selling the “sizzle” to generations who think only of their taste buds first, and taste buds second. Many still want instant gratification and happiness, and if that comes in the form of ridiculously unhealthy junk food, then so be it.

Most grocery stores spend little time on produce name brand offerings, and simply stock them accordingly with what they can get available through their distribution channels. The selection is all good, but as consumers, we don’t necessarily look on a pear for a brand label that doesn’t exist.

Enter Halos, and its promise of pure goodness grown inside the tiny wonder of the mandarin orange, perhaps nature’s even more perfect food than the ever-venerable banana and its once ubiquitous tagline.

I love and eat a lot of fresh produce, but I have to admit that I have never really cared much for the mandarin orange.

But the way Halos markets its fruit made me purchase some specifically from them, and isn’t that what marketing is supposed to do?

For starters, check out its addicting, sensational commercials with an entertaining, simple attitude that turn out to be memorable, and downright funny.

Halos could have easily taken the tired Jif approach and targeted only moms, but guess what – it included several dads in its brilliant Super Bowl quality spots – validating what we’ve been saying all along: fathers have the intellect and capacity to shop, and the instinct to feed their kids.

Go figure.

Now, wander over to its pleasant website – halosfun.com – where you’ll find a refreshing minimalism and uncomplicatedness in full force, reminiscent of the simple mandarin itself. There you’ll see plenty of words backing up what Halos presented visually in their commercials.

Like so many grocery store foods prior (yes, we’re looking at you again, Jif), Halos had plenty of chances to exclude dads, but it didn’t by using words like people, families and even a story about good ‘ol pops. Here’s a sampling:

“Liz Coulter works with Wonderful Halos to help people make healthier snack choices.”

“For snacking, kids’ lunch boxes, and families on the go, Halos are nature’s perfect treat.”

“My Dad always told me about receiving an orange in his stocking at Christmas each year, and that they looked forward to that kind of treat.”

“In fact, families like yours have made Wonderful the fastest-growing brand in America’s produce aisles.”

The fact that half of the energy for Halos’ packing facility comes from green energy generation ultimately confirms what we’ve seen since the beginning: Halos is a winner.

The Halos brand may be relatively new to the grocery store aisle, but judging by their dad exclusion-free attitude, we think they’ll be around for a long time.

Keep up the heavenly work, Halos.

Lysol washes its hands clean of dads

If nothing else, Lysol is efficient.

With one little promotional brochure disguised as “valuable information for baby’s first few weeks,” Lysol manages to both exclude dads outright, and peg moms as the do-it-all types who exclusively handle the household cleaning.lysol

If you can get your hands on this curious eight-page booklet, Lysol once again celebrates all things mom and leaves dad in the house dust.

Forget the fact that the other baby’s biological parent (by the way, Lysol, that would be dad) had an equal part in conceiving the child, and now has an equal part in nurturing and caring for it. Apparently, dads have nothing to do with “healthing” and keeping the baby safe from germs. That’s up to mom, who does the chores, and in Lysol’s world most likely the cooking, too.

And dad? Who knows where he is. Probably sitting on his easy chair watching the news, not to be bothered by anyone, sipping brandy after a long day of work. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, right Lysol?

The only way we believed this piece wasn’t unearthed at a flea market having been stuck in between some dusty 1950’s Life magazines was by seeing a website printed on it, proving that this must be some modern day desiring among Lysol executives for a bygone era where moms handle all the cooking and cleaning.

Things are different now, Lysol. Dads do indeed exist, and they certainly help out with newborns. How about starting by congratulating them while you’re at it?

If this was intended to be a mom-only brochure, then this piece is all the more troubling.  It makes mom out to be the house cleaner and totally excludes dads from a joyous occasion.  Dads have been left out too long, and in too many ways.

Things don’t get any better over on their website, where there’s hardly a dad to be found, plus articles that only speak to moms (I guess dads either don’t clean baby toys or don’t have the ability to do so).

Really Lysol, how can something so new be so old fashioned?

Quality marketing is their recipe

How refreshing is this latest email campaign from Wendy’s?wendys

In a world where marketers often perceive moms as the parent-in-charge, here’s an invigorating approach from a company that’s simply giving both parents their rightful due. It was plain and simple, but it got the job done.

There’s no special web tab titled, “For moms.”

They don’t overdo it in the other direction with some out of place, one-time deal for dads so often seen only in June.

Their website doesn’t look overly frilly or feminine, as baby websites so often do.

They did their own way, and did it right – by focusing on family.

Like so many companies before them whose stories have been revealed right here at dadmarketing, Wendy’s had every opportunity in the world to exclude dads and put moms solely in the spotlight.

Rather, they use the words parent and family at every chance they get. While it’s not exactly a shared 50-50 equivalency among photos of moms and dads, we don’t think it’s necessary.

Their mission and focus is carefully crafted by a team who stuck to a game plan by highlighting the adoptees, and in turn, present some touching stories with class and dignity that make all parties feel welcome. They realize that families come in all shapes and sizes, and they didn’t exclude anyone in the process.

It was only one little email, but Wendy’s has dadmarketing’s highest Seal of Approval, and others should take lessons from them.

Wendy’s goal here wasn’t about hamburgers or the bottom line, but it all makes perfect business sense.

Well done, Wendy’s.

An unfair lady

You may have noticed the recent headline about the University of Tennessee athletic department dropping the “Lady” volunteersportion of its Volunteers nickname from all sports, except basketball.

I vividly remember the first time I was introduced to the word lady and its association with a sports team – at my local high school. Frankly, I couldn’t believe my eyes, and I had questions. Lots of them.

Why was a girls team purposely making themselves out to be different than the boys (and as a result, giving them a lesser-than feel) by putting this unnecessary word on their jerseys?

Did the athletic director or the coach dream up this humiliating way of separating the girls from the “official” sports teams otherwise known as the boys? (That was the message it appeared to send to myself, and others.)

At the very least, why couldn’t they be identified as girls, instead of such a formal word like lady, which really has more of an adult connotation?

Why use a prim and proper term like lady anyway? That implies refinement and politeness, hardly qualities I’d want in a sports team. (Then, that made me wonder if, during games, these female athletes would really sweat, or rather glow?)

And, treating all things equally, why then, didn’t the boys team use the moniker “gentlemen” on theirs?

It was as if the girls team was intentionally signaling everyone in attendance with a madcap scarlet letter and caution label right on their jerseys: no, we’re not the real sports team, we’re just the ladies sports team. If you want to see the official sports teams, you’ll have to watch the main event, the boys.

I’m all for recognizing two different genders and giving each their due, but this deliberate separation by way of a simple term left the entire situation feeling so unnecessary, cruel, unfair and demeaning.

The Academy Awards doesn’t call it a Lady Oscar for the actress; it’s just an Oscar.

We don’t have teachers, and lady teachers.

There aren’t parents, and lady parents.

All male cats aren’t just cats, with the others being called female cats.

Sure, there’s still plenty of absurdity in our world. Seeing a female city council member categorized as a councilman looks as inane as it is literally inaccurate.

Yet even other parts of the sports world have been slow to embrace equality. Despite the effects of Title IX, sports has taken a long time to get with the program.

For example, why must the men’s NCAA basketball logo be branded “Final Four” while the women’s logo states, “Women’s Final Four”? Shouldn’t the former be called “Men’s Final Four,” making all things uniform?

And speaking of uniforms, isn’t that what sports clothing is supposed to do – make things alike, as in unified? If you let one team wear “Volunteers” on a jersey, and their counterpart wear “Lady Volunteers,” does that really send a message of togetherness and harmony among the entire Tennessee athletic department?  And its women’s teams even have their own blue accent color to create a further divide.  Talk about a silent, unspoken rebellion.

Then you have the NBA. Yes, the NBA came first, but why is the women’s league deemed the WNBA? Shouldn’t the men’s league be rebranded the MNBA, or at least give the women’s league a name with a less secondary feel to it, such as the Liberty Basketball Association, or American Basketball Association?

What about the PGA vs. the LPGA? Are not the women golfers of equal stature? The “L” makes it seem like the lesser league that it’s not. When Michelle Wie played on the PGA tour from 2004-2008, did it not seem like the media had promoted her to the main/real/top league? NASCAR doesn’t have a special WNASCAR for female drivers like Danica Patrick.

What surprised me the most about Tennessee’s announcement was how some former female athletes felt they were losing their identity with the loss of the word lady.

Those athletes might read this post and charge us with political correctness gone too far. But this has nothing to do with political correctness. The term “PC” describes the attitude of being careful not to offend any group of people in society believed to have a disadvantage.

One could accurately argue that women have disadvantages in a variety of ways, but using the nickname Lady Vols certainly doesn’t create any advantage; it belittles, demeans and unnecessarily separates.

I suspect the athletes, fans and those around Tennessee athletics had become desensitized to a term that was so commonplace and deeply rooted in sports culture at their university. The winning ways of the successful hoops team no doubt made it famous and celebrated.

The term had grown and became its own separate brand with no one ever stopping to question how silly it looked in the first place. Can’t see the forest for the trees, kind of comes to mind here.

It’s a bit like Jif’s “Choosy Moms Choose Jif” saying, or Kix’s “Kid-Tested, Mother-Approved.” Frankly, I’m surprised more dads aren’t up in arms over them. But both moms and dads have probably become deadened to the phrases. Those old-fashioned sayings have been around for decades and after all, many people enjoy the products anyway, so the slogans go unnoticed, and in the if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it vein, most really don’t ask questions.

But questions are important.

As for my original questions, no one’s really ever been able to succinctly answer them. I doubt anyone associated with Tennessee can either, especially those who strangely want to continue with the Lady Vols nickname for basketball only.

But our country was founded on dignity and equality, and dadmarketing will keep searching for it in our corner of the world.

We hope the folks at Tennessee do in theirs, too.

At least Boppy acknowledged that boys exist — it’s a start

Boppy Company, why does it have to be this way?

We think you have a really nice product that works, but when you openly and actively market your product to the point of purposely excluding dads (note pictured ad) – well, that’s when we have to step in.boppy2

We don’t think anyone doubts that the Boppy is a “mom friendly” item by nature. Its frilly, cute patterns and soft, cushiony look will immediately appeal to a more feminine side. That’s perfectly ok, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Men/dads and women/moms are different – we say celebrate that, but don’t tell dads by your intentional exclusion that baby products aren’t for them.

Don’t tell dads that they’re less of a parent to their babies than moms.

Don’t exclude dads from the party.

Don’t make them feel left out.

Rather, use your business sense and marketing savvy by selling it to everyone humanly possible!

Are you really afraid that if you take the word “mom” off everything that women won’t notice you? Or that it won’t feel as personalized? Or that suddenly you’re letting in that rough, manly guy on the decision-making process who doesn’t have any business offering input, who doesn’t know anything about caring for babies, and who shouldn’t have any part of that exclusive shopping experience usually saved for the mom-to-be and her mom?

Comparisons can be helpful to illustrate a point. So, let’s take a look at the National Football League.

The NFL is one of the most wildly successful American ventures around, and it has been for decades: huge TV ratings, massive fan interest, tickets sold by the millions, team apparel worn by fans everywhere you look, fantasy leagues, its own TV network. It also has that little end-of-the-season championship game that a lot of people like to watch, sometimes its commercials even moreso.

Yet, there’s no doubting this is a man’s game. No female has ever played in an NFL game (though we’d like to see that change someday). The rough, tough nature of football appeals heavily to the masculine nature.

And that’s ok.

But does that mean that women can’t enjoy the game? Does that mean that women can’t be involved elsewhere?

Of course not. Throughout the NFL, we see female journalists, TV commentators, cheerleaders, front office executives, sideline personnel, and on and on. A female singer has opened one of network TV’s most popular shows — NBC’s Sunday Night Football — since its inception.

Now let’s take a look at its website, nfl.com. Do you see any slogan like, A Game for all Mankind?

A menu tab titled Dad Center?

Helpful Fantasy Football Topics from the Guy Center?

A special offer titled, NFLhood for Dad?

Do you see any special anniversary section that says, Thanks guys/men/dads – for supporting the NFL – we celebrate you!

Do you see any kind of female or mom exclusion going on anywhere? Didn’t think so. If anything, they strive to recognize women through its Pinktober accessories, a color normally associated with femininity.

Sure, the NFL has its share of Ray Rice PR nightmares and a long way to go toward acknowledging proper treatment of women. But this blog is specifically about marketing and advertising. When it comes to marketing, the NFL has a track record of phenomenal success, and advertisers pay big money to be a part of it.

Bobby, perhaps it’s time to take a serious look at your marketing message, and how you can better capitalize on selling to dads. Take a close look at the NFL and how it succeeds.

Better yet, take a moment to talk to some dads and ask how they feel. All too often, we hear from dads who feel left out of things, and miss special moments, and it’s time for the exclusion to stop at least in the ad world.

Try the shoe, er the Boppy, on the other foot.

It starts at the top

You’ve seen these kind of ads in the back of magazines before. They’re a collection of magazine advertisers, sort of a parentsclassified ads section.

What gets me is how Parents magazine wants it both ways.

On one hand, they’re trying to appease to moms and dads by giving the magazine the name it has, yet when it comes right down to it, both stories and ads in nearly every issue largely speak only to moms.

It’s laughable how editors don’t even realize what they’re doing. Note the small print at the top: a Parents magazine logo, followed by the words, “Must-haves and must-dos for mom and family.”

So is this section for parents, or just moms?

Then you have the “Baby Depot Savvy Mom, Happy Baby Sweepstakes.” (The contest title is goofy enough: are dads not savvy, resulting in unhappy babies?) But here’s the real kicker:  the contest was open to any legal resident 18 years and older – that means dads were allowed to enter a mom contest! Kind of reminds you of this weirdness, doesn’t it?

So, in one fell swoop we have dad exclusion, a contest not fully thought-out, and a marketing blunder that leaves egg on the face of both Parents magazine and Baby Depot.

It just goes to show you that it starts at the top.

Parents magazine could have talked to the advertiser about their contest gaffe, but without practicing what they preach (as in the magazine’s name), it’s hard to put the blame entirely on Baby Depot.

Let’s get back to the basics, Parents magazine. If you’re truly a mag for both mom and dad, start acting like it – and your advertisers will, too.