A picture is worth a thousand hugs

toysrusSure, this featured email promo from Toys”R”Us is a gratuitous Father’s Day message which ran this past June 21, likely the lone time during the year you’ll see a dad-specific message from the giant toy retailer.

Today, however, that’s not of our concern.

Take another look at the ad. The copy is creative. The design is clean. The look is simple.

And, whoa, is that a child is hugging a dad?

That act – the hug – is the kind of thing normally unassociated with the stiff, rigid, unexpressive, stereotypical father, right? So often we typically see hugs and kisses for mom at Mother’s Day, and a lot of tools and neckties for dad on Father’s Day. It’s unfair labeling where we’ve been conditioned by companies to think that only moms are the caring, nurturing ones at home, while dad’s true love must be work since he’s there most of the day, hence the tie.

So when it comes to expressions toward dad, it’s less common to see hugs in advertisements. You might see hand holding or a shoulder ride at best, but a hug for dad is rare in ads.

We applaud the creative team at Toys”R”Us for presenting what others can’t: a deep tenderness and affection toward dad.

This is exactly the kind of move that tells dads, “We know you’re out there, and we value you; we’re talking to you, and we want you as customers.” It presents dads in a caring light as the nurturers they really are, and speaks to them through solid marketing messages that evoke emotion.

Nice work Toys”R”Us, and we look forward to seeing repeat performances not just in June, but throughout the year.

That’s because rumor has it, more than one dad has visited all of your 865 stores before.

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What to expect when you’re expecting to be treated like a parent

whattoexpect1If WhatToExpect.com truly offers information, as it says, on “pregnancy and parenting,” then why is it singling out one gender and hosting the annual “Moms Love-It” Awards?

It’s confusing how things ended up this way.

Originally, Heidi Murkoff conceived the idea for the famed book, What to Expect® When You’re Expecting, during her first pregnancy as noted on its website: “Determined to write a guide that would help other expectant parent (sic) sleep better at night, Heidi delivered the proposal for What to Expect® When You’re Expecting just hours before delivering her daughter, Emma.”

It’s admirable that the site uses the term “parent” when speaking about Murkoff’s original ambition. Murkoff seems like a fantastic, dynamic, successful woman on a mission to improve lives.

However, somewhere along the way, parent was replaced with mom, leaving dad as the one parent who apparently isn’t on equal footing. It’s a bias we’ve seen elsewhere and remains as unfortunate mistreatment.

Check out the “About What to Expect” page, where Murkoff’s commitment has wavered from its initial care for parents, to now only moms: “Heidi’s passionate commitment to moms and babies…”

And now with the relatively new “Moms Love-It” Awards (launched 2013), it makes expecting fathers feel like they simply don’t matter, underscored by the various award-winning companies from whom expectant dads everywhere will be purchasing their baby needs. Yes, indeed, dads shop too.

whattoexpect2What’s more, this is again yet another example of a website offering a “For Mom” section, with dad information buried elsewhere. Even the “Military Mom” section offers a one-sided look that ignores fathers. Why not offer a “For Dad” section with equal prominence instead of burying it under “More”? How about a “Military Dad” section?

If marketers so often like to falsely earmark dad as the parent who isn’t as smart when it comes to babies or who isn’t as involved, wouldn’t those fallacies be all the more impetus to offer solid information to fathers?

Everyone wants to be treated with respect and dignity, but how can dads find it here? Of course, dads aren’t actually carrying the baby, but that doesn’t mean they’re less important, or don’t matter to the pregnancy – they’re totally, equally important to the child. And the “Moms Love-It” Awards are only two years old. How about renaming them the “Parents Love-It” Awards before another company beats them to it?

Dads have a lot of options when it comes to parenting information, and those companies who choose to actively engage with them will be the true award winners.

KSN = Kraving Serious News

ksn1Remember the time when TV journalists simply reported the news?

Me neither.

That practice seems to have disappeared, because today we find newscasters and reporters performing, serving more as entertainers. They don’t exactly act like play-by-play announcers simply reporting the action on the field, but they’re also not full-time color commentators. They’re somewhere in between.

News is the reporting of recent events whereby the media provides us with information, and the media is the watchdog of us all. But just because freedom of speech offers us the right to say anything we want, doesn’t mean it should be said.

Think about it: as you watch the news – just after news stories and in between segments or commercials – how often do we hear those little banters, or commentaries, or jokes, or diatribes on some social situation or person among desk anchors? It’s supposed to be a segue to a different topic where we see the anchors’ personality and human side, but instead the power of the media is so often used to influence many via one person’s opinion – whether intentional or not.

It’s likely the “reporting hat” and “show host hat” morphed into one with the major increase of morning shows, mid-day shows, afternoon shows and talk shows, where features and lifestyle stories and commentary blended into one giant pot labeled “TV news,” all under the banner of the network.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Watching the lighter and softer side of news is enjoyable and breaks up the seriousness, but reporting has certainly become less sharing of factual information, more entertainment.

Take, for instance, this recent story featured on Kansas Today on July 8, 2015 on KSN in Wichita, Kan.

Kansas Today’s Katie Taube gave fellow reporter and dad-to-be Mark Davidson, her husband and also dad-to-be Dylan Hagen, as well as veteran dad Leon Smitherman, a list of items to find at Babies R Us. They were asked to work together to find each item in order while a KSN camera crew followed them along.

What’s not clear is why this piece occurred at all?

Was this supposed to be some fish-out-of-water premise, putting manly-men in an environment with which they’re not familiar as we watch hilarity ensue? Was the station trying to send some bumbling guys on a wild goose chase for some impossible-to-find items? Were we supposed to laugh at their overall ineptness?

After you watch the video, scroll below to read the comment from one perceptive viewer named Marissa:

“Why are you mocking dads? My husband could run circles around me when it comes to many of the so-called ‘mother roles.’ We’re living in 2015 people! Why don’t you start mocking gays along with it!”

Well said, Marissa, for we find nothing humorous or newsworthy about men going shopping, especially for items that they’ll use to co-parent these new children.

ksn2Even if these particular men weren’t familiar with a “Diaper Genie,” it’s not like anyone couldn’t find it after a common sense search. These dads are going to become parents, not babysitters, and it’s their equal responsibility to raise them just as the mothers will.

Taube, Davidson, Hagen and Smitherman are probably kind, friendly, stand up people who meant no harm, but as we’ve said before on this site – they weren’t thinking this idea all the way through. And that’s just the problem, we need to think about others and how they might feel. No one likes to be labelled, stereotyped, left out or excluded, but that’s what marketers, media and entertainment do with dads all the time.

Generations ago, it was the father who went to his work while mother stayed home with the children. So, yes, once upon a time dads were perceived as the secondary, assistant parent while mom squarely took the lead. But those days are over, and yet today, some still perpetuate this bygone era.

If KSN continues with this treatment of news, what’s next week’s segment going to be? Filming moms while they enter the work force, laughing at all their mistakes as they try to make it in the “real” world? Following girls around as they attempt to play sports? Taping men who actually try to cook a meal and clean the home?

Times have changed, we all need to treat dads with the love and respect they deserve as parents – being every bit equal parents as mothers. No one is more important as a parent than the other.  Those moms-to-be have no more instinctual ability to parent the child than the dads do. They’re both parents.  Equally.

And next time, hopefully KSN will be reporting the news, not creating it.

PS: Best of luck to all parents-to-be!

Is that a dad in a breastfeeding ad?

lansinoh1Check out this stellar ad from Lansinoh, makers of breastfeeding products and accessories. It features words like “breastfed” and “nipple” and “breast,” yet boldly places at dad at the center of its full page magazine ad.

That’s powerful. That’s wonderful. That’s making dads feel like involved parents!

But then, the company does a strange about face on its website – lansinoh.com – where it decides to bury dad’s importance down below on its home page. If it truly believes that dad is “critical to (the baby’s nursing) success,” as its website states, then why is dad minimized so greatly online?

How about a Lansinoh Dads’ Club?

Why not publish an article titled, “8 Benefits to Dads for Breastfeeding Moms”?

How about more photos of dads on its website (they’re hard to find) – and prominently feature them – like the dad in the magazine ad?

How about have a special dads-only section, which might dig deeper into a dad’s involvement with breastfeeding? Or have a different guest dad blogger featured every so often?

How about simply show the word “dad” more?

The magazine ad was so incredibly fantastic because it proved it can utilize fathers in an advertisement about breastfeeding products, and we were ready to give Lansinoh the highest dadmarketing Seal of Approval™, but then Lansinoh changed its tune online.

Oh. So. Close.

Let’s hope Lansinoh’s marketing professionals can get on the same page and mimic a magazine ad that’s beyond sensational, and thus lead the market among those companies insisting upon total parental inclusion.

Soggy cereal

What exactly does this Twitter bio say about dads? And if you are a dad, what is it saying to you?momsbestcereals1

In our estimation, it’s saying that you don’t count, the company isn’t talking to you, and it doesn’t want your business.

What’s strange about MOM Brands is that it adopted its exclusionary name in 2012. No, that’s not 1912, but 2012 – as in, three years ago!

Jif adopted its discriminatory slogan decades ago, and same for Kix’s mom-centric box, while Similac has been ignoring fathers nearly since its beginning.

But 2012? It’s hard to imagine a company looking so old-fashioned in today’s equality-hungry, politically correct world that strives to include everyone and even blur the lines between, say, toys and clothes. Alas, MOM Brands has found a way to make even cereal buying sexist, because dads apparently do not know best.

What’s equally bizarre about MOM Brands is how they proclaim to have made the name change to reflect “the company we are now. We’ve been family-owned since 1919…” and “We’re really proud of the fact that we’ve saved families over one billion dollars since 2007.”

But don’t families include dads, too?

Apparently not, according to MOM Brands, or it might recognize them by name – or at least on Twitter.

It’s hard to stomach this say-one-thing, do-another corp-speak, especially since MOM Brands seems like a rather progressive group. We admire its innovative packaging that’s helping to keep its cost (and customers’) down. Its variety and tastes are every bit good as the next cereal brand.

But that name. And that Twitter bio.

Both are enough to make dads reach for something else. Chances are, they already have, but it won’t be easy: marketers of the cereal industry seem insistent that only moms have the ability to put breakfast food on the table, and/or mom’s place is in the kitchen.

Alas, cereal makers are stuck in time (see #7).

It’s quite the reversal from the days when pa would gather and hunt for what the family needed.

MOM Brands says it’s taking the saying “’mom knows best’ to the next level,” and perhaps that’s a good thing.

Maybe, just maybe, that “next level” might include dads in the future.