A for-letter word

4moms is a robotics company founded in March 2006 which makes high-tech baby gear. 4momsAmong several other items, it offers for example, the world’s only power-folding stroller.

If that isn’t cool enough you should check out its infant tub which fits in most single and double basin sinks, where a side drain allows dirty water to drain out as fresh water flows in.

Or dig the infant seat and its five unique motions that mimic the natural movements parents make to comfort a baby.

All of the ultra-nifty technology is enough to make mom and dad put down their smart phones, and…

Wait … not dads.

This gadgetry is only for moms, right?

Well, yes and no.

Recently, we had a pleasant 140-character conversation with the friendly folks at 4moms, who enlightened us that its company name merely comes from an initial focus group held that consisted of four mothers.

Cute and unique, indeed, but in a baby world where businesses purposely leave dads out of the parenting mix, it’s a saying that’s well-worn.

Had the name been 3moms or 5moms, we never would have taken issue with anything. Imagine that the wildly-successful burger-maker franchise Five Guys had been named 4Guys – that means something else entirely, doesn’t it? We’d all perceive them differently, and wouldn’t women be deservedly up in arms?

We’re sure the desire of 4moms to match true company history with the play-on-words was too good for them to pass up, but you know who gets passed up in the process?


Oddly enough, the company was founded by two dads.

4moms assured us that they “definitely know” that dads count too, but there’s little proof of that by way of the website and anything on the product proving otherwise. If anything, it’s just the opposite, with a 4moms logo adorned vividly.

Sure, they could add a special section honoring dads or put some extra wording on their website somewhere, but that would do little to market to the in-store shopper.

What would a company called 4dads be about? We have a few ideas, but we doubt baby products is one of them, and that’s our point.

Dads are parents too, and it’s time businesses start listening to fathers everywhere.

Judging by its products alone, 4moms seems to have a bright future ahead, and eight years in the books for a company like 4moms is kind of like eight months in baby years. 4moms is still very young.

Which is why we think it’s plenty early and not too late to consider a name revision: how about 4moms+4dads?

Such a name would pay homage to its founders, Thorne & Daley, who must deep down care a thing or two about dads.

And speaking of care, if 4moms really cares – as its charity’s name suggests – how about starting with its customers?

As in, all of them.

Cooking someone’s goose

For something as new as Jesben Slow Cooker Sauce, and for someone as young as its founder, its slogan is about as archaic and dated as it gets.

Doing its best Jif impersonation, Jesben advances an old-fashioned stereotype while demeaning not just dads, but moms too, as it implies the well-worn “moms cook, dads don’t” mantra we hear from tired products who often find it hard to innovate, giving the perception of an old-fashioned product.

Ironically, that should be the opposite of Jesben.jesben

Although we haven’t tried its sauce, we like the entire concept, its packaging and logo, and overall looks like a winner. Its primary slogan, Elevating & Simplifying The Art of Slow Cooking, is a much stronger description for a product that should want to be seen as pioneering. After all, slow cookers aren’t the simplest and quickest meals to make (nor clean up), yet the terms elevating and simplifying are the kind of words that make us want to give it a try.

And we get the fact that we’re all busy, but why put dads in parentheses, making them out to be the lesser cook, the secondary go-to-source for family meals?

Why not replace the “Moms (& Dads)” with the bolder and more succinct “Parents”? Better yet, how about eliminate the entire slogan entirely and stick with the much finer “Elevating” saying as the primary wordmark?

With an outdated slogan like the one on the front page of its website, we were fully expecting to see an FAQ with something degrading like, “Is it easy enough for dads to use?”

Jesben’s product is young, and it has a bright future.

Consider every customer, Jesben, and dads will consider you.

Innovation is useless without marketing to match it

jifwhipsWhile we consider ourselves marketing watchdogs, we can certainly take a moment to give a product credit where it’s due.

Despite all the fair and deserving scrutiny we lend our friends at Smucker’s, we think Jif is a tasty and fresh product. (Just don’t expect a Christmas card from us this year, Jif.)

Product innovation, on the other hand, has never exactly been one of Jif’s strong points. After debuting in 1958, it took nearly two decades to introduce its extra crunchy flavor (1974), followed by a healthier version (1991), again, almost two decades after that.

Now, exactly two more decades after 1994’s Reduced Fat Jif, we now have Jif Whips, as we noticed in a primetime TV commercial last night.

It wasn’t like we were expecting to see the old-fashioned “Choosy” tagline eradicated from the ad, but we were hoping it might be a chance for Jif to match this product originality with the beginnings of a marketing slogan revolution that could catapult the company into modernism.

We should have known better.

Like an eighties child attached to tired catchphrases of yesteryear, Jif remains unknowingly insistent on showing its old age, unable to let go of a past by introducing an inventive, new product mismatched with a slogan that simply doesn’t work anymore.

This isn’t like a midlife crisis — [insert mumbling voice] you’re 56, by the way, Jif — it’s more like a catastrophe. A disaster. And certainly an embarrassment.

This awkward screen shot only validates the confused and gauche product we call Jif.

We know Jif doesn’t really care for dads, but what do gay dads think of the “Choosy” slogan and its website’s “mom advisor”?  Has Jif even bothered to ask?  It’s unfathomable how long this ridiculous slogan has lasted, but it’s difficult to disengage from pride.

Actually, we’re not asking Jif to run away from its traditions, but it cannot become a slave to its past. Its past is its present. It can’t let a so-called unchangeable slogan be an excuse for a possible eradicating perception as a pioneering company, or at least for being the best it can be. It must aggressively compete for every customer imaginable, and cannot sneer at innovative marketing thoughts and forward thinking simply because it’s connected to some slogan from which it can’t let go.

The great brands don’t sit on a slogan for life, and even the rare ones who can (Nike comes to mind), don’t possess a phrase that’s old-fashioned at best, and gender-parental exclusionary at worst.

We insist, all of the above is a recipe for an eventual loss of market share.

What do you say, Jif? Can you whip up something new?

At least one Christmas card and a whole lot more customers might depend on it.