Why Do Breakfast Foods Ignore Dads?

Cereal makers can’t seem to wrap their heads around the notion that dads provide breakfast for their kids.

For years we’ve been pointing out the problems of Cheerios, Kix, Quaker and others who continue to disregard dads as part of their customer base.

The latest offender is General Mills, who not only excludes dads from its latest campaign, but uses a possessive pronoun that contributes to the problem.

If you have children, do you refer to them as “my kids” or “our kids” when speaking with others?

The former connotes a more possessive or singular approach, whereas the latter sends a meaning of togetherness and unity. While “my” may seem harmless and unintentional, it conveys a certain message – whether you believe it or not – to others, but also to your partner.

It’s not uncommon to find stories, comments, or blog posts from women who complain that they’re stuck with the majority of the household and parental duties (that’s no fault of the dad – he’s typically working outside the home, but we’ll save this topic for another day). However, wouldn’t the action of calling the baby “ours” drive home a greater spirit of togetherness when tackling daily familial duties? These women might not feel so alone in their work by calling the children ours.

Companies like General Mills furthers this perception, too. It inconspicuously calls the children “your squad.” That makes dad out to be the lesser parent at best, completely irrelevant at worst. General Mills would do families and society a much better service by speaking in terms of “us.”

Using the word “parent” instead of “mom” won’t make or break the marketing business model, and it won’t make a female look away in disgust. Rather, it will make a dad feel like an included member of the family and feel like a valued customer.

It’s time for change. Words matter.™

Something’s Fishy Here

One could easily argue that Goldfish is the Disney of snack crackers.

Starting from a single idea, the company has widely diversified, established itself as an industry leader, expanded into larger markets around the globe, spanned generations, segmented into other areas and created the world’s most recognizable cracker – which serves as the company’s official mascot.

The Goldfish cracker is simple, tiny and lovable – not to mention tasty, which is more than you can say for Disney’s official mascot. It’s the perfect go-to snack for youth sports everywhere, solidly paired with its thirst-quenching counterpart, the juice box.

The Goldfish cracker has had different shapes, colors, flavors, branded tie-ins and spinoffs. As consumers, we eat them for snacks, at meals and as desserts.

(Now, if they could only figure out a breakfast-style cracker.)

Quite simply, there is nothing the Goldfish cracker can’t do.

Except champion equality.

Its latest ad disregards fathers – an unfortunate tactic from a company with a decent track record.

Just two years ago we thanked Goldfish for its inclusive message right on the package. Today, its latest magazine ad tosses dads back into the water for no apparent reason.

Words matter – something Goldfish, Pepperidge Farm and its creative team apparently has yet to learn. It had better change its ways soon before mainstream media, social media and society’s disapproving stare reminds them that stereotypes are wrong.

Everyone’s watching.

Marginalized Even During a Pandemic

We’re in the middle of a worldwide pandemic and – believe it or not – Clorox has an ad that markets disinfecting wipes only to moms. It’s a strange scenario for a major global manufacturer with one of its corporate responsibility goals as inclusion.

Granted, the ad first appeared in late 2019 but the image remains alive and well on the Internet.

You can learn a lot from Clorox’s Corporate Responsibility page. There it not only touts inclusion but other admirable objectives:

“We’re proud of our efforts to…strengthen our communities.”
“It’s about achieving success the right way…guided by our values.”

Sadly these examples are another example of corp speak – flowery language seen as an asset in the workplace, but lost by the time it reaches the consumer. Ignoring fathers strengthens communities? Achieving success the right way? Guided by values?

All of it seems a bit hollow.

The company has yet to learn from its mistakes, having endured several allegations of sexist marketing over the past two decades. Its most recent in 2009, featured during the TV show, “Mad Men,” showed a man’s white, lipstick-stained shirt with the caption, “Clorox. Getting ad guys out of hot water for generations.”

COVID-19, like laundry stains, knows no gender. It’s time for Clorox to back up its mission with advertisements that strengthen communities, families and parents who have supported it for over 100 years.

It’s a Start, But planDisney Still Needs Work

Following years of supplication and sometimes derision, the Walt Disney Company finally gave fathers, families and a nation what they have been asking for since its inception – a new name.

planDisney is the label for the retooled Disney Parks Moms Panel, an online resource for Disney vacation planning. Though once comprised of moms and – awkwardly – dads, the name reflects a shift in tone after Disney admitted moms weren’t the only ones planning Disney vacations.

Its previously narrow approach raised the ire of fathers, grandparents, uncles – and not surprisingly – people without children across social media who felt their value as a guest didn’t matter.

With its new, more inclusive term, it doesn’t pretend to cater toward one gender or family class. It now offers an improved approach that concludes vacation planning is conducted by everyone.

Though beyond overdue, Disney still deserves credit for making the switch, even if it was America’s critical eye toward stereotypes that forced its hand.

However, planDisney still needs a lot of work.

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Panel diversity

If the panel is a true reflection of Disney Parks guests, the panel is sorely missing the mark. Among its 35 panelists, only four of them are men and all four men are middle-aged. It’s difficult for vacation planners to benefit from expertise from both genders when the balance is that lopsided. Surely males have plenty to lend about the best time of year to visit, how to save money and the best hotels.

What’s more, 28 of the 35 panelists appear to be white. This can’t be representative of America. Movie audiences know that whitewashing is bad, and it’s being done in similar fashion here. Greater diversity would mean different angles from a wider expanse; greater diversity would mean more people would get an opportunity to serve as a panelist and enjoy the incredible perks it brings.

And where are the grandparents? The college-aged young adults? The children? Everyone could gain from their perspective when it comes to planning the vacation of a lifetime. Their viewpoints would be equally valuable for what should be the ultimate trip-planning resource.

It wasn’t ready

One of planDisney’s largest followings resides not on Facebook, but Twitter, where 26,000 people track @DisneyMoms. But planDisney hasn’t transitioned to its new name on Twitter yet.

Working during a pandemic has its shortcomings, but that’s little excuse for a program that should have had every nuance worked out before going live. Besides, social media is where most fans were vocal about the sexist vibe Disney Moms generated.

It not only needs to fix its old name on Twitter, but also graphics and hashtags, along with news of the name change – which would amount to its first tweet in months.

A weird history

Have you read the history on its about us page? It makes no explicit mention of its all-female past – or why it was justified in the first place – until it admits that “the panel also grew to include dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles and more.”

It then strangely concedes, “We know planning a Disney vacation includes everyone…”

Sure, planDisney has a strange evolution, but here’s a tip: there’s no need to rehash it for anyone. Drop the clumsy justification for a sexist past as if it’s a point of pride. planDisney has a clean slate, and it’s time to move on. All is forgiven.

It needs to rewrite this section pronto.

Driven By Discrimination

It must be a strange situation if you’re a dad and you choose this driving school in the Houston area.

From the outset, it’s labeling you a secondary parent and already making you feel less important.

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But it gets even more bizarre if you’re looking for adult courses. Imagine being a grown man and attending a driving school that your mom — er, wife? — has approved.

It’s disappointing to see professional drivers’ education offering an inclusive program with such an exclusionary name. After all, its website states that teens must complete a “mandatory 30 hours of parent-supervised in-car driving.”

If a dad is good enough to offer that parent supervision while driving, isn’t he good enough to be mentioned by name?

In a world that won’t stand for inequality and unfairness, shouldn’t this company be driven by principles that don’t ignore parents on the basis of gender?

It’s time for change.

Enough is Enough, Disney

These days Americans won’t put up with stereotypes and ignorance. We’ve reached a boiling point – and with good reason.

Just ask the Washington Redskins, where the almighty dollar finally pushed owner Daniel Snyder over the edge, forcing him to confront years of repudiation regarding his team’s controversial name.

Stereotypes are ugly because they’re overgeneralized and oversimplified ideas about people. They force an identity on someone or something that isn’t true.

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With the rest of the America turning a critical eye toward all forms of ethnic and racial stereotypes, it’s hard to imagine brands still ignoring miscalculations in other areas.

For years we’ve written about Disney Moms and its refusal to retitle an outwardly discriminatory and exclusionary name. Overall, it’s a fantastic, well-intentioned program which offers Disney vacation advice from seasoned travelers.

However, the explicitly mom-only branding works to create an unknowing, needless divide in the parenting community. Not only does it refuse to acknowledge dads by name, it awkwardly inserts dads into a moms’ program and uncomfortably makes them a gender they’re not.

In 2019, Disney Moms quietly removed “moms” from its long-standing #SMMC hashtag and event name – Social Media Moms Celebration – but it was hardly enough.

The time has come to deal head-on with a program that should know better in today’s equality-focused world.

Yet somehow, someway it has spurned addressing the elephant in the room. Check out its April 27 post (also pictured above) where it continues to treat dads like secondary parents to the unfortunate extreme of ignoring their gender, identity and status in today’s modern family.

Families have noticed the omission on social media lately – perhaps a reflection of the pandemic’s stay-at-home nature which has affected our perception and awakened our senses.

Corporate America is being given little choice.

Just as it’s pressured by millions of people who know that Black Lives Matter, perhaps Disney will get with the program before its PR team is forced into spending unnecessary time playing catch-up with families who have had enough.

Why didn’t dads get a Kraft Father’s Day promo?

Last year, Kraft ran a Mother’s Day promotion – Mother’s Day Away – which encouraged moms to take time away from their family as Kraft covered the cost of a babysitter.

Going on the premise that moms wanted time off, Kraft gave $100 to 500 moms – $50,000 in total.

“Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate Mom in all of her greatness, but we know the holiday doesn’t stop the challenges of motherhood – temper tantrums, sleepless nights and picky eaters,” said Sergio Eleuterio, Head of Marketing for Kraft. “With Kraft ‘Mother’s Day Away’ we are giving moms across the country the chance to have what they secretly really want: some time for themselves.”

While the offer was certainly well-intentioned and generous, the holiday promotion had its faults. Namely, why didn’t dad get one?

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What about dad?

A year has passed since the Kraft Mother’s Day campaign. And now with this year’s Father’s Day just around the corner, dads are waiting for their Kraft gesture.

The problem is – they’re going to be waiting a long time. Attempts made to communicate with Kraft via email and social media went unreturned.

Of course, it’s unlikely we’ll see a comparable campaign. Food companies have a history of omitting fathers when it comes to holiday promotions.

In today’s modern world where parenting roles are blurred, there’s no reason this should happen.

Negativity

Exclusion aside, there’s other troublesome matters with Mother’s Day Away. The promotion purports that being a parent has more negative experiences than positive ones.

Kraft makes it sound like meltdowns and kids pounding on bathroom doors occur regularly.

There’s no doubt parenting has its moments. But it’s not all doom and gloom.

It’s time to bury the tired trope that kids are hellions who force parents to hide. There’s nothing particularly positive about a contest that implies: “Hey moms, on this heartwarming, family-based holiday, want to avoid the very people who made you a mother in the first place?”

Dads don’t help?

The ad copy also insinuates that dads don’t change diapers and that moms never get a break.

One might argue that the ad hints dads don’t do anything to help, thus creating the very reason for the contest – that a babysitter is required to fill in the shoes of the ignorant father who doesn’t help around the home.

In truth, a babysitter isn’t needed. Kraft should stop perpetuating the unfair, unrealistic and outdated notion that dads don’t help around the home and moms won’t relinquish household responsibilities and want to be Super Moms.

Of course, families realize this isn’t the case. Today’s fathers are actively engaged with household duties: diapering, cooking, cleaning, and, are also very familiar with trying to go to the bathroom while kids pound on the door.

Ad redo

“Leave the mothering to someone else?”

It’s called parenting, and dads are equally competent at it.

Here’s a rough draft for the way the advertisement should have been written: “Leave the parenting to another person for one day and hire a babysitter. Enjoy your day with your husband and/or find something fun to do on your own or with other moms. Submit your receipt and we’ll cover up to $100 for your babysitter bill. We’ll also offer this promotion to dads on Father’s Day.”

Dads are waiting

We’ll give Kraft a free pass this year due to the pandemic, but here’s hoping it will make things right next year.

The time to start planning is now. Kraft should contact real dads and start engaging to find a better way so as to not offend.

As Mark Twain once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Be our equal guest

Being a host is an important responsibility.

A good one will make you feel valued as a guest. A bad one won’t even acknowledge you.

Known for its “Butterburgers” and frozen custard, Midwestern restaurant chain Culver’s is built upon honoring its guests. Its no wonder – its family-owned locations have a secure feel, from employees’ warm hospitality to a menu filled with comfortable, kitchen favorites.

The Culver’s website validates all of this with assurance: “Since day one, we knew we just had to take care of our guests, and that’s why we try to make you feel welcomed like a guest in our home.”

Then we stumbled across The Ad.

Imagine how dads must feel when watching a video about chicken tenders that purports mom to be the family’s primary authority.

Ouch.

This message – which caters only to moms – hardly makes dads feel like valued customers. It runs contradictory to a company mission centered upon treating everyone like guests in the Culver’s home.

In the big picture, The Ad is about more than selling chicken tenders. In today’s modern world, dads are equal, competent parents and deserve to be treated as such. Marketing to both parents – rather than alienating one of them – is just smart business.

And it strengthens families.

Equivalent holidays deserve equal treats

It’s great to see a heart-warming promotion and holiday-specific foods like the ones snack maker Little Debbie recently unveiled.

Moms deserve it.

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But you can’t help but wonder – will dads get their due come June?

There hasn’t been a snack cake devoted to dads in the history of fatherhood. A quick Internet search for “dad cakes” results in a lot of beer-themed versions, neckties and tools.

There’s a lot more to fatherhood than that.

Little Debbie has a golden opportunity to set the trend for a promotion with incredible potential by doing it right. What dad would turn down a box of sweet treats he could share with his kids? There’s no better way to celebrate fatherhood than with a gift designed to honor dad and the kids who made him one.

As Little Debbie says, it’s time to pamper dad and offer him a prize that will ease the load of his to-do list.

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A dad is a nurturer, protector, provider, teacher, friend, spiritual guide, role model, mentor, disciplinarian, advisor and cheerleader. Let’s see if they can incorporate all that into a treat and promotion that would garner attention nationally.

Dad deserves better than beer cakes and neckties.

So does his sweet tooth.

Ask mom how she feels about dad’s exclusion

Getting marketing and media to be more inclusive of fatherhood has many key factors.

Of course, the obvious consequence of ignoring dad is the degradation of fatherhood.

Yet there is another area of concern involving all of parenthood, particularly mothers.

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Continuing to portray dads as incompetent shoppers, substitute parents for moms, or part-time sidekicks is an insult to moms.

It questions the mom’s choice she made to become a professional woman.

It’s she who desires to focus on providing the best for her family and reaching her utmost career potential instead of staying at home with the kids.

It also belittles her decision to marry the man she chose to be her husband and father of their children. No matter how you add it up, the commutative law of addition still yields the same result.

Motherhood + fatherhood or fatherhood + motherhood = both equal parenthood.

The good news is company and marketing executives have the power to change how they view dads as parents, as well as consumers of products and services.

Even better news is that dads continue to be an evolving and growing target market.

Ask mom how she feels about dad being excluded.

You might be surprised how much it affects her.