Culturelle shock

My calendar tells me the year is still 2014, but the marketing team behind Culturelle Kids is clearly situated 40 years ago or more.culturelle

Here we have what appears to be an exceptional childrens’ chewable pill to reduce tummy discomfort, and all Culturelle can think is that kids must only want moms.

Why are dads constantly being told through marketing messages that they’re less than moms? Today, the roles have never been more equal, great strides have been made in various industries and professions with relation to pay, and parents often share duties past generations wouldn’t have dared.

So why must dads continue to hear that they’re second fiddle to mom’s better judgment and instincts? Moms are no more intelligent than dads, and dads are no more clueless than moms. No matter if it’s an animal or a human being, parental instinct is a strong force, and even with lack of knowledge, adults learn as they go.

Yet Culturelle perpetuates the sad and ugly stereotype from a bygone era that dads can’t handle it and thus, kids must want mom first, making dad feel like a secondary, if not useless, parent.

If Culturelle Kids is indeed the #1 pediatrician recommended probiotic – and some of those pediatricians must be dads – then who are their kids calling when they have a sick tummy?

Culturelle, we hope you can consider all of your customers when crafting your marketing materials. Dads take care of kids, too.

Our culture is different now – and you should know better, because it’s part of your name.

Times for a change

I’ve had a lot of ideas over the years.motherlode

Once I pitched a newsletter idea for a sanitation company in a town called White. My original thought was to name it “White Trash.”

Okay, okay, confession: that story and pun was made up.

But even though a pun may fit and might sometimes even seem too good to pass up, it doesn’t make it right.

Consider the New York Times and its Motherlode site. Its goal is “to cover the ways our families affect us, and the ways the news affects our families.”

We love the play on words if it were a moms-only site, and bear with us – we’re not comparing a term like white trash to Motherlode – we’re only using an analogy to make a point. Even its url is listed in web language as http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/.

Note the first word used is parenting, as in moms and dads.

Obviously, families include dads, and with a title like Motherlode, how can it possibly make dads feel welcome, or even make them want to check out the site?

Not surprisingly, the writing you’ll find there is fantastic – very fit to print.

After all, this is the New York Times, otherwise known as media royalty. Everyone in the newspaper world wants to be like the New York Times, winners of a record 114 Pulitzer Prizes. It has been the standard in journalism for 163 years, and of course, it is a wonderful act to follow.

Hardly anyone should ever question what they do because they’re as good as it gets, right?

In that vein, does it not seem like everyone’s giving the Motherlode name – surely a discriminatory one – a free pass, just because it’s the New York Times? As readers, do we even recognize its name’s chauvinistic tone, or have we become immune to the exclusion of dad in its title?

In the last 30 days, I counted just one Motherlode news story directed explicitly at dads and fatherly issues (while the “Deployment Diary” is excellent and referred to dad a lot, it’s not a dad-specific issue). And I only noticed three male writers. So, if “families” is its goal, it’s missing the mark in more ways than title alone.

NBC News, another highly reputable media source, became all the wiser when it suddenly renamed its TODAY Moms to TODAY Parents in June, a far more inclusionary and correct name for the news affecting, well, parents.

As it stands now, the New York Times would rather use the word mother as a generic term for parent, like Kleenex is for facial tissue.

Do you ever ask someone, can you please hand me a Puffs?

In the same way, let’s not let this attitude lead to a society where office forms simply state “mother,” but we have to assume the office wants us to list both the mom’s and dad’s name.

Dads know this oft-forgotten tale all too often.

After all, it was only two generations or so ago that dads were not even allowed in the delivery room. While that practice has changed for the better, let’s be honest, doctors still mostly speak only to moms at child well checks as if they’re the lead parent, making dad to feel like an assistant at best, nonexistent at worst.

Being one of the leaders in journalism means setting an example and acting like it, from top to bottom, side to side, and tiny little bit to Motherlode.

Get real, Hilton

Mega hotel chain Hilton claims to offer a blog about “real families and their travels.”

But there’s just one small problem with that description, because if Hilton’s world is truly reality, then only about 7 percent of dads are traveling. Among its team of 15 bloggers writing about so-called “real families and their travels,” hiltonit’s only authored by one dad.

One dad!

But what we find even more disturbing is that the blog is called, “Hilton Mom Voyage.”

If that title doesn’t strike a nerve with moms and dads alike, it should. In Hilton’s realism, the word mom has become the generic term for parent, strong enough to stamp out the word dad from even existing.

We received news of this messed-up marketing campaign from an email titled, “Real moms give real travel tips,” a partnership with P&G, who has an Olympic-sized history of banishing dads from marketing through its self-proclaimed tagline, “Proud sponsor of Moms.”

We have no problem with real moms giving real travel tips. If moms want to give other moms, or even dads, some tips or advice, have at it. Both genders can benefit from a motherly perspective.

However, when the site’s focus is to offer experiences about real families, and pair it with a blog title that outright excludes dads, that’s when Hilton is sorely missing the mark.

Hilton may want to have a conversation with NBC News and The Today Show, where this past summer its online “TODAY Moms” web section was replaced with the less offensive and more inclusive, if not more modern, “TODAY Parents.” Its rationale is outstanding, but still, why did it take so long to make the change?

Back in the 1950s and 60s, the show employed “Today Girls” (no, they didn’t use all-caps then), who discussed fashion and lifestyle, reported the weather, and covered lighter-fare stories. The last woman to hold that position was Barbara Walters, who said nobody would take a woman seriously reporting hard news back then.

Yet, here we are some 50-60 years later, and dads are not taken as serious parents by Hilton.

When will Hilton make the easy fix that TODAY wisely did? Only Hilton can answer that.

In the meantime, the reality is, there are plenty of other hotel chains where dads and moms can take their business until Hilton realizes that dads like to voyage, too.

One year old

As far as we can tell, there’s not a single entity or individual on the Internet devoted to exploring and analyzing how businesses market their products and services to fathers.oneyearold

It wasn’t until we unveiled dadmarketing.com on December 14, 2013, that history was made.

Like with any new venture, there was some uncertainty about the amount of writing material, how readers might respond, and just what we might achieve.

There was never any question as to its need and relevancy. Dads remain left behind in so many facets of life, and most men don’t realize this until they become fathers themselves.

Consider the following:

  • Why are stay-at-home dads not taken seriously by media and society?
  • Why can’t marketers simply include dads in their messages and advertisements?
  • Why must old-fashioned, anti-dad slogans remain in a society that demands equality?
  • Does it really matter which gender predominantly shops for and feeds children?
  • If kids eventually grow up and leave the nest, at what point do dads become instantly capable of fending for themselves in a store, or in a kitchen?

Questions matter, and we’ll keep asking them. It’s part of our mission, our duty, and our purpose. So are all of your needs, and we plan to keep on listening to them, which help to keep us on target.

We’re smack in the middle of the holiday season, where dads and moms inevitably take part in various parties, some easier to stomach than others. But can you dads imagine attending a party where no one spoke to you the entire time?

Marketers do this all the time with word choices they make, and it’s more than disturbing.

One year is in the books, and as long as dads roam the earth, we figure we have many more to go. Thanks to all of you for your unwavering support, tireless goodwill and unmatched appreciation.

Our continued growth depends on feedback, so please keep it coming.

Here’s to the past year, and the years ahead!

With great power comes great responsibility

I realize the Internet has blurred some of the rules of journalism, but the media still has a certain amount of duty and youtubebabyaccountability.

After what I saw online today, People magazine clearly feels none of it.

Polish dad Bartosz Fórmanski YouTubed a charming video of him placing fake facial hair on his baby, and titled it, “What happens when my wife leaves me alone with our baby.” Although his YouTube name is “Perfect Daddy,” the video simply looks like a dad having fun with his baby. Nothing more.

People magazine wrote about the video on its website, yet interpreted it by making dads out to be the negligent, undependable, butt-of-jokes parent with the irresponsible title, “Here’s Why You Don’t Leave Dad Alone with the Baby.”

People doesn’t appear to have interviewed Bartosz, but decides anyway to make assumptions merely from his headline alone.

It could be that Bartosz is just a funny guy. Perhaps he’s a perpetual practical jokester. Or, maybe it’s just a dad having harmless fun.

But People would rather take the lazy approach and use tired comic relief by reshaping the unknown meaning Bartosz’s YouTube title, making dad out to be the sorry excuse for a parent. Yep, here’s another example of why we can’t leave dads with kids. Clearly, dads aren’t serious parents like mom! They’re only assistants as best!

Why did People have to turn innocent fun into reckless headline writing?

I guess when it gets right down to it, it really doesn’t know, uh, people.

With a little help from my friends

Last week dadmarketing had the pleasure of interacting with the excellent Tiny Blue Lines, a wonderful website we’re helphappy to have discovered. Highly recommended.

In our conversation, she brought up an interesting point.

You can head to our Twitter site if you want to read our discussion, but she made a comment worthy of further exploration when she said, “…props to all the dads who don’t think of (handling baby’s night feedings) as ‘helping’!”

That made us think.

In fact, it was enough to make us look up the true definition of help, which can be defined several ways, as noted at dictionary.com. Those most applicable in this case would be:

  1. To give or provide what is necessary to accomplish a task or satisfy a need; contribute strength or means to; render assistance to; cooperate effectively with; aid; assist;
  2. To make easier or less difficult; contribute to; facilitate;
  3. To be useful or profitable to.

However, when put in context with night feedings and caring for a baby – a role most associated with mom – it seems to puts dad back in the assistant/helper role, doesn’t it?

Consider the converse: if a dad was working on a car in the garage all day and mom said, “I helped my husband work on the car today,” wouldn’t that also connote feelings that she was merely an aide, or an assistant?

And then it hit us that this is one of the many reasons dadmarketing exists.

The more we can all rid the world of these labels, stereotypes and preconceived notions, the more we’ll be able to say, dad helped to feed the baby during the night, and it will simply sound like he provided what was necessary to accomplish a task, or contributed to something, or was useful.

Period.

And it won’t sound like he was only assisting his wife with one of her jobs during the night. And when a dad cooks a meal it won’t sound like he was being a good husband and helping mom out in the kitchen. And, maybe, just maybe, we can rid the use of that absurd “Mr. Mom” name.

Tiny Blue Lines’ comment was indeed thought-provoking, because props for sure, to those dads who don’t think of it as helping, but further props to those moms and dads who don’t categorize it a mom or dad job in the first place.

One small tweet from Maggie, one giant leap for change

A few days ago we retweeted a story about this young girl who fought back against a sexist sign, and ultimately claimed victory as the sign was removed.maggie

Her modest, ingenious and charming complaint challenged the higher beings at a store in England, and executives listened.

Way to go, Maggie!

Her protest got us thinking about the foolishness of Jif’s tagline, Choosy Moms Choose Jif.

If a young girl can get the attention of a large retailer, why can’t Jif take inventory of its own sexist practice? Doesn’t their parent company, Smucker’s, want to market their goods to all and be perceived as a modern, progressive, with-the-times business? What does their four-word marketing message say to households without a mom present?

We’ve discussed some of Jif’s plight before, and again, and yet again.

Jif’s stale slogan was created decades ago, during a bygone era when mothers generally handled cooking, cleaning and household shopping. Jif is essentially hanging that chore on mom in present day, and indirectly, the cooking and cleaning, too.  Doesn’t Jif’s approach remind you a little of this?

Yes, even as the year 2015 looms, an embarrassing, inane catchphrase has long passed the old-fashioned phase; in today’s world, the saying looks downright irrational.

The interesting thing about Maggie’s dispute is that despite its marvelous simplicity, it only changed in-store wording for the better. For example, another major retailer, ToysRUs, still categorizes shopping selections as “Boys’ Toys” and “Girls’ Toys.”

So, in theory, little has changed and her fight could still go on.

Jif, on the other hand, is so stuck in time and dead set in its ways that we know there’s still a long way to go toward making things right. Jif is indeed a tough peanut to crack (they won’t even respond to us, or acknowledge us), but we know at least one 7-year-old who could bring the entire empire to its knees.

What do you say, Maggie?