Nissan scores Super Bowl touchdown #withdad

Although Fred Diaz won’t be at this weekend’s big game in Arizona, he attended a Super Bowl once.

While surrounded by the pageantry, media, stars and excitement of the biggest event of the year – no doubt the envy of everyone who knew him – Diaz actually wished he was someplace else.

“I found myself wishing that I was with my family watching the game with my kids,” said Diaz, Nissan USA senior vice president, sales & marketing and operations. “So, I promised myself that I would never go back, and instead just watch it with my family.”

And that is the endearing message of Nissan’s latest marketing venture.nissan2

It returns to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1997, and is garnering some extra attention for employing not a celebrity, model, or puppy, but rather a character which other products and services tend to exclude: dad.

“Our research says dads are creative, but we also wanted to make sure we showcased mom as a hero,” said Diaz, in an exclusive interview with dadmarketing.  “Looking at concept after concept, the direction I gave the team was to find in some way a moment and a story that we could share with America that was real, true and authentic, and that we have a connection and that we understand. I had no idea where it would go.”

What developed was a full-blown campaign centered on a two-word relationship, simplified with a social media call to arms: #withdad.

Nissan recognizes that parents need to work, yet their families ultimately come first. So, its campaign brings this necessary struggle to life through a 90-second Super Bowl commercial so special, Diaz says, that a 10-second teaser was created to give viewers a taste of what’s to come, unlike many advertisers who tend to showcase the entire ad on YouTube several days prior.nissan3

“Our strategy was not to show the spot until the Super Bowl,” Diaz said. “Airing it (in entirety) takes away the magic of seeing it live. But just like a movie trailer, it immediately catches your attention and says, ‘I want to see that movie.’ We had always intended to show a teaser 2-3 weeks before the Super Bowl to give (viewers) a taste to whet their appetite.”

Although Diaz couldn’t reveal the entire cost of their #withdad campaign, some media reports have suggested a 30-second Super Bowl spot alone costs around $4 million. With that kind of likely investment, Diaz and his marketing team have gone all out with a plan to extend its #withdad message well beyond the Super Bowl, focusing on digital resources, social media and other extensions.

“Originally we bought 60 seconds, but when we saw the footage and spot, we just felt like it needed to have more time to breathe,” Diaz said. “We decided to go the extra mile.”

But why dads, and why now?

“When (the team) brought it to me, it just immediately connects,” Diaz said. “It was 100% that this was the way we were going to go. Whatever your family unit is, we get it. Nissan understands that you struggle with the work-life balance. That’s basically the message, ‘that we get you America.’”

While it’s refreshing to see a focus on dads, Diaz insists that Nissan’s message is all-inclusive, and that the TV ad gives proper credit to moms, as well.

“We went through great pains that mom was shown as a hero in our spots,” Diaz said. “She’s a hero and caretaker, too. She’s got to be there, too. I know very well from dad analytics that women as just as an important part of decision makers for cars, SUVs, or trucks.”

While Diaz acknowledges that there sometimes can be a negative portrayal of dads in the media and advertising world, he assured that, “I would never let this company go in that direction.”

Nissan’s #withdad campaign heartily embraces social media, currently employing several YouTubers to help send its message with creative, funny, heartwarming tales about spending time with dad.nissan1

Diaz relates to #withdad using his own personal experience as a dad of two adult sons, one in college, and one who started marine boot camp last week, where he felt a constant longing and struggle to spend time with his family, despite needing to leave for work every day and make a living.

Knowing its marketing splash is costly, Nissan felt its investment would be empty if there was not a call to action beyond cars and its message’s emotional pull. It has partnered with Wounded Warriors and Habitat for Humanity, donating $1 million to each as part of the Super Bowl promotion.

“The two are just a beautiful combination together, and we couldn’t go (back to the Super Bowl) in good conscience without giving back to America,” Diaz said.

All in all, Diaz is excited to see the #withdad commercial air in its full glory on Super Bowl Sunday from the comfort of his home, but the moment will be bittersweet: it’s the first game he and his wife will watch as empty nesters.

“When you see the full spot, I think what you’re going to see is a father who genuinely loves and cherishes time spent with his family,” Diaz said.

Similac doesn’t want dads as part of its ‘hood

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but actively involved dads are everywhere. Just don’t tell Similac.

In its world, dads don’t exist. They’re invisible. They’re transparent.

While trying to find common ground among formula vs. breastfeed moms, Similac has managed to make dads feel like they can’t be part of the discussion. Regrettably using the word motherhood as a synonym for parenthood, the marketing team of Similac turned what could have been a creative endeavor into one poorly executed promotion.similac1

Similac’s rather ambitious marketing campaign, “Welcome to the Sisterhood of Motherhood,” leaves very little doubt as to whom it speaks. The premise tries to focus on eliminating the divide among moms who breastfeed, and those who formula feed.

There’s only one serious problem with it – they forgot about dads.

If you dads agree after reading our assessment, here is your exhortation: take to Similac’s Facebook and Twitter sites, and let them know how you feel (plenty have already), because our staff spent an entire day picking apart nearly every facet of this awkward and confusing campaign.

Slogan

We see two slogans in use here, so let’s take a look at each.

“Welcome to the Sisterhood of Motherhood” is its primary push, and it’s catchy enough, but it radiates exclusion similac2through-and-through as it tries to address the breast vs. bottle issue. It’s a catchphrase that leaves dads out of the message, as if they don’t feed kids and that dads shouldn’t be a part of the debate. And as mentioned, it swaps out the word parent for mother, a dangerous and exclusionary approach.

It’s a curious one, too. Similac makes baby formula, something dads can handle, unlike the actual act of breastfeeding. It was Similac’s chance to strike while the iron was hot, and instead left dads in the cold.

Indeed, leaving dads out of the marketing message in this modern world is risky business, where it only takes a small group of people to band together and give one company a lot of bad press. Just go ask Huggies how it feels to be called out for not thinking a campaign all the way through.

Similac’s other motto, “Where moms get encouragement, not judgment,” is surely a dose of unexpected irony wherebysimilac3 Similac effectively passes judgment on dads, believing these are still times when only moms purchase formula and feed kids.

That’s a curious assessment, because many dads we know actually purchase the formula, often picking it up to-from work, or on a lunch break, or as stay-at-home dads. Yes, Similac kind of took the search out of research, because it clearly didn’t go barking up those dads’ trees.

Facebook

For starters, Similac’s Facebook page asks, “Why is it that the moment you become a mom, everyone has an opinion?”

That begs an interesting follow-up question, where we’ve already heard some dads ask conversely, “Why is it that the moment you become a dad, no one even asks you for your opinion?”

Dads are often forgotten and ignored, and Similac ensures that will happen right from the very start – you can notice it nearly every post on Facebook, where Similac’s social media group is simply unable to type the letters d-a-d anywhere.

This is especially surprising from a company who should want to actively engage with dads, because as already mentioned, formula feeding is something guys can do themselves, no mom needed.similac5

On its “About” Facebook page, you’ll then find the following contradictory message: “Similac® is committed to helping moms and dads parent their own way, by providing products and services that support you no matter how you feed your baby.”

Talk about total oddity with an utterly hollow commitment surrounded by dad exclusionary messages everywhere.

Read other Facebook posts here, where it’s more than just dads who are scratching their heads.

Website

Here’s an oh-so simple reminder for the Similac team: it takes a female and a male to create a child. So, starting with that very basic premise, it seems that a decent courtesy would be to try and give the dad some dignity and recognition at similac.com.

Since we’ve already established that similac.com doesn’t speak to dads, it makes the “My Baby” tab at the top look a tad bit possessive and controlling, doesn’t it?

Asking for a special fathers section tab is probably too giant of a step for Similac, but at least acknowledgement of dads as parents might be a polite consideration.

We flipped through page after page, and not only is no dad present visually, it’s one direct exclusion after another:

  • Expectant moms, don’t miss out!similac4
  • Enroll in the Similac StrongMoms program
  • Join the discussion. See what moms are talking about today.
  • More Moms choose the Similac® Brand
  • For breastfeeding moms who choose to introduce formula

We could go on and on, but you get the point. We all know dads aren’t wired for breastfeeding, but they do care about their child’s nutrition, and can and should have a say in the breastfeeding/formula discussion. They have feelings, and want to join in the discussion. And they don’t want to miss out.similac6

If we didn’t know better, we’d think Similac’s execs were hanging out with the dad-unfriendly Boppy, Jif, Kix and Gerber crowd. It’s not exactly a way to endear itself to the other half of the parent equation, who know how to use credit cards and cash every bit as moms.

It’s true, we’ve actually seen dads in stores.

But judging by Similac’s presentation, you’d swear that fathers have no ability to choose the proper formula from a store shelf, transport it to their homes, measure the powder, mix it with water and hold it up to a baby’s mouth.

Alas, similac.com is beyond disappointing, one of the more troubling sites we’ve seen.

Video

Seeing dads in a video with motherhood in its title is disjointed enough, but then when moms see dads taking care of kids on the playground, Similac scripts a mom to look at them and quip, “It must be mommy’s day off.”

We know what you’re thinking: “Gosh dadmarketing, it’s supposed to be funny. Where’s your sense of humor? Take it with a grain of salt, it’s all in good fun. Don’t take this so serious. Lighten up.”

Well, imagine we’re at a social gathering, and for humor someone decides to tell jokes about how mom’s place is in the kitchen, or that women are terrible drivers, or that women don’t belong in the workplace, or that girls can’t play sports.

It’s not so funny anymore, is it? Old-fashioned stereotypes hurt. So why are we letting Similac off the hook with this supposed comedic material? It’s hardly amusing when dads get drug through the mud with a hurtful and cutting stereotype. You could apply this same theory with any ugly stereotype – there’s always one side that isn’t laughing.

Had Similac employed a bit of empathy, or really thought this video through, that snide joke wouldn’t and shouldn’t have happened.

And how about that ending, “No matter what our beliefs, we are parents first.”

Really?

With a video sandwiched by a title like “The Mother ‘Hood Official Video,” and a hashtagged ending like #SisterhoodUnite, it underscores the desire of Similac to stubbornly want it both ways. It’s like Similac is saying, let’s use the word parent so we look like we care about dads, but we really mean mom.similac8

The campaign’s mission is to bring people together, but sorely misfired elsewhere, too. To be sure, lest you think this is all about dads, Similac’s video gaffe is evident in other areas.

Check out the poignant comment on Similac’s Facebook page from Erin Hernandez, who accurately points out another Similac fumble.

While speaking about portrayal of blacks in their ad, Erin Hernandez offered: “…the two most aggressive people in the ad who tried to step forward as if to fight was the black dad who got held back by other dads and the black mom who says, ‘nipple up ladies.’ Just an observation. I don’t know maybe I’m overly sensitive but I feel that feeds into stereotypes unintentionally and you would think with all the people that work on this commercial, someone along the line would have noticed this….like I said, I see it a lot in advertising…just a reminder to your ad team: I know not everything can be politically correct, but be careful in how you portray people in commercials, black white Asian etc.”

Much like the way the video’s playground gathering forgets the stroller, letting it roll away, Similac squarely does this with dads too, which could result in a costly mistake as Similac watches dads potentially reach for a different brand name.

Others talk back

Please, don’t take our word for it. Others have already taken to the Internet and social media, weighing in on this campaign.

“Dads in an ad about baby formula wearing babies and rocking childcare! Then the tagline is ‘Sisterhood of Motherhood.’ Um, what?,” said Dads Behaving Dadly, a site exploring the actions and emotions of being an involved father.

Look at what Carso Riskes posts on Similac’s Facebook page: “Hmmm. A campaign called ‘The Sisterhood of Motherhood,’ a campaign that aims ‘to encourage *parents* to come together… Titled ‘The Mother ‘Hood,’ the video shows a playground confrontation between moms and *dads*… Seems to me that it kind of discourages Parenting and Fatherhood. But hey what do I know? Don’t you think as a society that we start to honor fathers too.”

Check out what geekdad.com says about this marketing mess, and here’s more from daddydoctrines.com.

Even though Similac has no practice of talking to dads through its marketing message, it’s going to have to start similac7listening. As you can plainly see online, things are starting to mushroom, and It can’t ignore this crowd much longer.

Final thoughts

If Similac really wanted to address the breast vs. bottle debate, that would have been fantastic and much needed, but Similac went about it all wrong.

You know how parent magazine ads commonly drop the ball, claiming to be for both parents, yet the overwhelming majority of its content and ads only speak to moms?

Well, in one clumsy case, we noticed an issue with one story’s headline forcefully speaking only to moms with something like – “Hey mom, here’s some ways to shush that baby” – while the very next article slammed dads who should be more involved with child-rearing.

The magazine is its own enemy: reinforcing negative behavior and age old stereotypes through its headlines, stories and advertising, then unfairly ripping dad for disinvolvement. Talk about a vicious cycle of recklessness and irrationality.

Such madness is like a peewee coach only instructing the boys on the team, and then looking at little Jane and telling her she’s terrible at sports.

And now we have Similac, who uses a tagline, video, website, social media and overall campaign to – either intentionally or not – reinforce the old fashioned, inaccurate and irresponsible stereotype that dads don’t feed and/or parent kids.

What a shame.

While trying to bring people together, Similac drove a deeper wedge into the mom vs. dad divide, by totally excluding dads from a marketing message. Dads can’t breastfeed, but they can bottle feed, and Similac had a chance to capitalize on this with what could have been a creative campaign.

Instead, Similac spit up all over the burp cloth.

For consumers (which includes both moms and dads, Similac), it has also made for a clearer choice between the big two formula companies, Similac or Enfamil.

Imagine the uproar if there was a sudden, national movement to call the PTA, the Father-Teacher Association. No one would stand for this, because it would be wrong. So why does Similac get away with similar nonsense?

Similac should know as much as anyone else that the world of babies is not a sisterhood.

It’s called a parenthood.

First foods and first impressions

We’ve heard of Plum Organics and have spotted it in the store, but have not noticed much it does by way of marketing until we saw its two-page spread in the November 2014 American Baby Magazine.plumorganics

And here’s what instantly popped into our heads: you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

That’s because Plum Organics, like Gerber, sing the worn out “moms feed babies” refrain in its ad.

Seeing another baby food maker push this agenda is enough to make dads start pureeing their own baby food.

Based on its website, the company actually seems fairly admirable. We love its charitable efforts, admire its refreshingly generous use of dads in photos, and dig the story of how Neil Grimmer founded the company.

But then the pot meets the kettle on its “5 facts” page.

Here it offers excellent tips for parents as they look to provide food for their kids, but blame past feeding confusion via misinformation from marketers and doctors for over 50 years.

That began in the 1960s, a time in culture when most moms probably were the primary shoppers, bakers, and meal-makers.

Yet here we are in 2014, and Plum Organics’ ad clearly suggests that moms alone feed kids.

So, let’s get this straight: it’s ok for Plum to blame marketers for past puzzlement, however, its own marketing clearly perpetuates an age-old, well-worn stereotype that only moms feed their children.

It leaves dads out of the marketing message – hardly a welcome feeling (especially for new dads) from a company with which they may not be familiar.

Plum Organics, if you really want your customers to feed amazing, as your tagline suggests, consider making dads feel like they count.

A slam dunk for equality

When you get right down to it, dadmarketing is fighting for that same thing so many other groups in America also want: equality.minnesota

Our country was founded upon it, and when it’s not present somewhere, we all champion our own specific cause. At the very least, the concept of equality should offer equal rights under the law, but in our case, it’s more of a social obligation offering respect, and plus, it just makes sound business sense to include dads as part of a marketing campaign.

Recently we came across a photo (pictured) that was so uplifting, it’s worthy of a blog post even in this dadmarketing world.

The photo is plain and simple, a sign showing the future practice home and administrative offices of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves and WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx.

What caught our equality eye, was how not only that Lynx was acknowledged on the sign, but its name and logo were the same size as its NBA counterpart. Impressive!

First things first: we realize that the Minnesota T-Wolves are hardly the NBA’s premier franchise, but they’re still an NBA team. No, it’s not the Lakers or Heat, but their day will come, and someday they’ll be more recognizable to casual fans.

And although we love the WNBA and believe its competition is every bit worthy of attention and fame as any NBA team, the fact remains that it isn’t. Its own fans are wildly passionate, but for most average sports fans, women’s basketball is of small interest, as evidenced by much lower league TV ratings, attendance, advertising revenue and general fan interest than the NBA.

It’s not right, and we hope that changes someday.

Of course, its own league name is rather self-lowering (why isn’t the NBA the MNBA?) – that doesn’t help. And when one of its top college teams inadvertently degrades itself through a nickname, it proves that unfortunately, women’s pro basketball has a long climb to become as popular as the NBA.

Nevertheless, we offer our highest praise to the teams’ owners for putting the Lynx on the same equal footing as the T-Wolves. Very well done!

There are a lot of companies in our world that could follow your lead. (Yes, we’re looking at you, Jif … and Boppy … and Kix …)

Three cheers for Cheerios making it right

cheeriosloveLast April, we penned an entry which spoke of the wonder of Cheerios.

In our estimation, it has been the perfect cereal since birth, a spectacle of simplicity combining a healthy, any-time-of-day food option with surprising versatility for enjoyment beyond basic sustenance.

Our many tastes change with age – clothing, books, TV, music, movies – but not Cheerios. We’ve enjoyed it our entire lives, from birth to old age, and there aren’t many cereals or even entertainment options which can claim that.

Cheerios has securely been part of our lives. We love it. It loves us. Its round shape is practical, if not symbolic, a reminder of our eternal and endless love, which like a circle has no beginning and no end.

But then, like a marketing executive suddenly turned to the Jif Side of the Force, we noticed a bizarre, Kix-like web page that made us think otherwise.

It was as if Cheerios instantly soured to everyone – moms and dads, young and old, large and small – by showing favoritism to one and ignoring the other, trying to tear apart so many of us that shared this common, charming cereal bond.

That’s when we wrote about this marketing aberration which made us so confused and angry.

You may recall that at that time, Cheerios was actually getting a lot of praise for its dad-loving TV commercial, which may have been the reason its web-based dad exclusion flew under the radar.

We tried communicating with General Mills several times, but to no avail.

Fast forward to today, some nine months later, when we occasionally like to check up on our topics, and we were pleasantly surprised to discover that web graphic no longer exists at cheerios.com.

Eager to know more about the change, we reached out elsewhere, this time with the excellent Kirstie Foster, public relations and social media director at General Mills.

Through Foster’s mediation, Cheerios responded with the following:

Hi there! We’ve always thought the world of dads. Many factors led us to the decision that it was finally time to show it.

How about that? No, it wasn’t a direct shout out to dadmarketing, but we like to think we had a hand in the change.

We may be a small, upstart organization, but our influence and message shouldn’t be understated. Dads have been left out of the marketing messages too long, too often. Cheerios no doubt recognized that, and we’re proud of those involved with the change at General Mills.

Think about Jif’s “Choosy Moms Choose Jif.” How sexist and old fashioned is that?

Cheerios changed for the better, so why can’t Jif? Why can’t others?

We’ll keep beating the drum until others reach Cheerios status, and maybe together – through sharing, talking and communicating – we’ll help more of them become products we can stick with for a lifetime.

Chuck this cheesy ad in the dumpster

I’ve always been fascinated – more like surprised – by the use of mice in media, advertising and pop culture.chuckecheese

Most of us detest mice, and have little tolerance for them anywhere. Yes, I know some have them as pets, but for most people I suspect they’re filthy, disgusting and a nuisance. They harm plants and crops, can cause house damage and spread diseases with their feces.

Yet we have a culture that turns them into fun-loving, adorable creatures – and we love them!

Think about the cute mice from various movies: “Stuart Little,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “An American Tale,” “Shrek,” “Ratatouille” (I know they’re rats, but still).

There are TV shows and cartoons: “Mighty Mouse,” “Speedy Gonzales,” “Tom & Jerry.”

Even books: “Angelina Ballerina,” “Vera the Mouse,” “Poppy,” “Ralph Mouse,” “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”

Of course, we can’t forget that black and white mouse upon which an empire-like movie, music and entertainment industry like no other is based.

It’s fascinating how in real life we’ll do anything to chase and destroy them, yet elsewhere we find them charming and sweet, often heroic. It’s impressive how the entertainment world has found a way to make us love something we should dislike.

And now, we have a mouse from the marketing and advertising world who has entered into rare territory, a realm only occupied by radical parent segregationists like Jif, Kix, Boppy and Gerber.

Take a look at this doozy of a commercial, which doesn’t hide a thing about to whom it’s speaking.

I love how the first time Chuck E. Cheese’s decides to let dad have some air time (halfway through the ad), he’s slightly fuzzy and unclear in the background. It’s like the play place chain is reluctantly acknowledging dad’s existence because it has to, but doesn’t actually want to give him much recognition.

In fact, the ad really doesn’t ever let us see the front of dad once. The only time he’s truly center stage (which is a stretch because he’s huddled behind his family) is at the cash register – when it’s time to pay – because dads are merely the providers, right Chuck E. Cheese’s? They’re not nurturers, they didn’t set up the fun day at the restaurant, and they certainly aren’t real parents, or you would have acknowledged them.

Every kid in the ad validates this, including one with a big, warm hug – only for mom.

Just in case my perceptive visual sensibilities are askew, where the possibility always exists that I’m off base on what my eyes see, there’s no mistaking how many times the ad utters the word mom: five.

Dad: zero.

Stop me if I’m wrong, Chuck E. Cheese’s, but from my perspective, the commercial is about as dad exclusionary as it gets. If this was some kind of Mother’s Day ad, that’s great, but it hardly indicates as such.

Further botching its lopsided marketing message is the completely out-of-place, mismatched tagline which seems to want it both ways when it exclaims, Where Awesome Parents Go. Talk about disconnect, the commercial’s one true consistent theme.

There are plenty of warm and engaging mice characters out there, but this ad makes the Chuck E. Cheese’s mascot look like what it really is: a vile rodent.

There’s nothing to giggle about when Giggle says one thing, then does another

If all the mommy blogs suddenly disappeared at once, I think that would leave about 25 remaining blogs in all of cyberspace.giggle

It seems they rule the blogosphere, and that’s great. There are a lot of good, fun mom-focused sites out there, and they each serve a purpose. Keep ‘em coming.

But then you have giggle.com, offering its Giggle Gab blog site, which we’ll get to in a moment.

First, a little background: Giggle is an online baby store, but as they say, it “isn’t just a baby store: it’s a new parent store.”

Cool, huh?

We applaud their clear focus and inclusionary word choice as a store/site for new parents.

But that’s about the last time they’ll address you dads as being real parents.

Over on their Giggle Gab blog, you can not only find a “City Mom” menu tab, but also articles like “5 Photos Every Mom Should Take During Baby’s First Year,” and “3 Tips for Making New Mom Friends & Setting Up the Perfect Play Date.”

If you dads weren’t turned off already and actually decided to click on their “Parent Talk” tab hoping to be spoken to there, you can forget that, too. There you’ll find a “Parent Talk” logo with the amusing description, “Get tips from the trenches with this information-packed blog from the authors of ‘The Rookie Mom’s Handbook’ and ‘Stuff Every Mom Should Know.'”

We’re not taking anything away from the authors or the books, which are probably excellent.

But by listing the names of those books which don’t speak to dads whatsoever, and doing so in a supposed “Parent Talk” section without any dad authors, it’s rather contradictory.

The best dad treatment we could find was an article posted five days before last year’s Father’s Day which helps last-minute moms skate through dad’s important day looking like they were prepared. Here’s the author’s opening:

“Before you panic about being unprepared for Father’s Day this Sunday, I want to remind you that you probably already have everything you need to celebrate. (Yes, really.) Think about it: you could brew some coffee, change all of today’s diapers, and whip up a real present, all in a few minutes.”

Whip up? I don’t want to discount these nice gesture ideas for a mom who’s had a busy week, but that seems like one seriously low-balled Father’s Day. Although the author goes on to give some other sweet ideas, but by then the damage was done.

Giggle.com has an impressive “as seen in” resume, but it’s still a bit of an unknown. If it really wants to be perceived as the go-to site for new parents, it should start acting like it and let dads in on their content.

Dads have feelings. Dads want to learn more about parenting. Dads care about their kids. Dads shop and buy things.

And, dads count too.