Dads already have their priorities straight, now marketing and media need to do the same

Willful pigeonholing of dad by marketers and media into the secondary parent role feeds our senses, shapes our attitudes and makes us believe that all dads aren’t as skilled and competent as moms. The formula works so well that companies have convinced themselves that nothing has changed over the years, and thus, the typecasting continues.

As a result, society makes this persist in many ways.

One example is the methodology of the academic studies about moms and dads and their role as parents. The observations and conclusions are usually mom-biased and more importantly discount, overlook, or ignore a dad’s perspective.

affection-children-dad-1470109.jpg

One recent illustration of this is a 2016 study by researchers at the University of Minnesota and Cornell University. This study was featured in a Star Tribune article on October 15, 2016, titled, “Among Parents, Dads Get All the Fun and Moms the Stress and Fatigue.” The researchers sampled more than 12,000 parents while measuring how happy, sad, stressed, fatigued, and meaningful their time was throughout the day, both with their children and apart from them. One of the report’s authors – as well as the media – concluded that moms do more housework and dads get to have more fun.

However, the researchers and media never considered how dads and moms have different priorities when it comes to the time they spend with their kids. The truth is neither approach to parenting is wrong, they’re just different. The same is true when it comes to shopping.

Different priorities doesn’t mean that a dad does not care and a mom is more caring. Most dads work during the week and, because of this, they use their limited spare time to enjoy and have fun with kids. Different also doesn’t mean that dad doesn’t have any interest in shopping or wouldn’t like to share in the shopping duty.

Consider the shaping of thought by the marketing images in advertisements: dad is often viewed as the playmate, while mom handles the cooking, cleaning, and shopping. If gender equity is sought, marketers should consider how genders could be depicted differently and fairly.

The aura of today’s modern dad is vastly different than that of yesteryear. Now is the time for companies to view dads with a clean slate by erasing all the myths and misguided labels, which drag them down from being viewed as equal and adept parents.

A few companies are already realizing this untapped potential, and they stand to maximize gains in a crowded field seeking to win over parents and their spending dollar.

Advertisements

Numbers don’t lie

According to a 2012 study by Parenting Group, publisher of Parenting and Babytalk magazines and Parenting.com, and Edelman, a leading global communications marketing firm, statistics show that men are now the primary shoppers in 32 percent of households – more than double the 14 percent rating of two decades ago. That same study, in a Yahoo survey of 2,400 U.S. men ages 18 to 64, found more than half now identify themselves as the primary grocery shoppers in their households, but only 22 to 24 percent feel advertising in packaged-goods categories speaks to them.

aisle-business-cart-1005638.jpg

Defy Media investigated tasks of men aged 18 to 49 in 2014. They discovered that 65 percent of men hold the primary responsibility of shopping for several household product categories and 54 percent of married men say they shop for groceries and household supplies more than their spouses.

Phil Lempert has served as a food trends editor for NBC’s “Today Show” since 1991 and is now known as the Supermarket Guru. In a 2015 piece, he noted that according to a new Young & Rubicam study, men now comprise 41 percent of all primary grocery shoppers, but that figure is even higher among dads: 80 percent of millennials and 45 percent among all dads are either the primary or shared grocery shoppers in their families. The study also found that dads are more brand-loyal and less frugal than moms.
These facts alone suggest an invitation to corporate and marketing executives to seriously consider developing a marketing campaign to both parents, without the exclusion of one or the other. The facts are often ignored due to the myths of fatherhood, but the reality speaks of new dynamics.

There is no question parenting has evolved. Dads, as well as moms, have contributed to the new progressive development of today’s modern parents in which roles, like shopping, are shared between parents. This new parenting culture brings up many questions like:

  • Is the relationship between marketing and modern parents changing? How is it possible to not explore or consider dads as valuable customers?
  • How can a marketing department would neglect the obvious?
  • How can a CEO and its board allow all this to be missed, year after year?

Let’s hope that the corporate world soon catches up to modern families who so greatly matter to their bottom line.

What did we learn from the Gillette ad?

Now that the hype has died down, did we learn anything?

When Gillette’s “We Believe” advertisement went viral, was it really nothing more than a cynical marketing ploy? Did it really backfire like its critics say?

What did Gillette learn? What did we learn?

gillette2.jpg

We learned that Gillette deleted an astounding 34 percent of the ad’s comments on YouTube, a figure that some consider the highest relative comment delete on any 1 million or more commented video in YouTube’s history.

We learned that Gillette’s sales haven’t been affected yet, though that’s hard to determine at this point. Razors are often bought on very long purchase cycles, so a definitive sales conclusion can’t fully be realized until months from now.

We learned that the pot does indeed call the kettle black. Thousands on social media pointed to a past Gillette sponsorship photo whereby women wore tight-fitting blue jumpsuits with Gillette’s logo featured across their behinds.

We learned that there have been calls for boycotts of Gillette. One has to wonder what fans and players of the New England Patriots think about their stadium being sponsored by Procter & Gamble’s top razor brand.

gillette4.jpgIn the end, the campaign received considerable attention, but it also drew heavy criticism by suggesting that good men are in the minority. It even took aim at boys seeing bikinis on TV (like, think how all of us will be subjected to that during Super Bowl commercials) and roughhousing on the ground.

Caring isn’t feminine, and leadership isn’t masculine. The bad apples involved in the high-profile, celebrity #MeToo culture doesn’t mean that the entire bunch is spoiled. Everyone gets that toxic masculinity is a bad form of masculinity, but it’s not as prevalent as Gillette insinuates. Look around you, most men are decent men. And the boys of today are its customers of tomorrow.

The male-shaming of Gillette’s ad demoralizes and labels its very customer base. It’s hard to imagine a scenario whereby Gillette would run a similar female-shaming ad telling women they’re not good enough, and that they need to do better. Lost in Gillette’s well-intentioned piece was a message that stereotyped, emasculated and demeaned the far majority of an entire gender.

Gillette’s pledge “to actively challenge the stereotypes and expectations of what it means to be a man” is a lofty one. It’s operated by a parent company that has a troubling history of ads and social media which thrive off old-fashioned notions of masculinity and femininity.

We learned that Gillette has work to do. And it starts today.

 

‘Twas the night before marketing to dads

dadchristmas.jpg

‘Twas the night before marketing to dads,
When all through the house,
Dad was excluded,
By an iconic brand mouse.

It’s hard to know why,
A travel program is named,
Disney Moms and not “Parents,”
Dads should be treated the same.

But they’re not all around.
Dads are left out of the talk.
Take a look at some ads,
It’s all quite a shock.

In the blink of an eye,
And a twist of your head,
Soon will give you to know,
You have plenty to dread.

“Choosy Moms Choose Jif,”
Peanut butter will say,
That’s only the beginning of,
The dad-parent downplay.

Formula, diapers,
Medicine, more.
Dad’s always left out,
By marketing lore.

Look at formula ads,
We’re talking bottles, not breastfeeding.
Dad’s a perfect consumer,
Why isn’t Similac heeding?

You’d also think Boppy,
Would market to men.
It’s a pillow for propping,
Read its history again.

And mmm, Texas Toast.
It’s a garlicky love-in,
Yet notice the ad,
Dad can’t handle an oven?

When a child is sick,
Dad will manage the fever.
But Exergen thinks,
He’s an underachiever.

Even medicine makers,
Insist dad can’t administer.
Mom wouldn’t be happy,
If Dr. Cocoa dismissed her.

Diapers are often a point,
Of daddy exclusion.
It’s hard to know why,
It’s such a confusion.

Oh, Huggies! Not Pampers!
Luvs, too. Earth’s Best?
Dad deserves better,
This must be addressed.

We’ll admit some have changed,
Like Amazon and Kix,
But there’s still work to do.
It doesn’t take tricks.

So just when you think,
One parent is in charge.
Think again! Think equally!
Dads are parents – supercharged!

Consider how you treat them,
Don’t drive dad out of sight,
Don’t leave him left out,
And you’ll have a good night.

The case for marketing to dads

Marketing to dads is a way to motivate and challenge dads to create a higher standard of parenting involvement with their children.

As the expectations for greater parental involvement increases in professional and personal lives, dads will also spend more time with children. A prime example is the participation in dads’ clubs. Dad’s involvement at school does not diminish productivity and/or quality of work at the dads’ place of employment. A happy dad makes for a more productive and happy employee.

affection-children-dad-1470109.jpg

A dad’s involvement also means less time that children remain supervised by a television, video game, or worse, surfing the Internet alone. Instead it means more time in the care of a dad who loves them.

The truth is that the current generation of children are the future business professionals who will champion marketing messages, journalists who will shape our attitudes, teachers who will instruct the next generation, doctors who will perform surgeries years from now, and leaders who will be voted upon someday. These children will more than likely also become parents. This makes this task of marketing to dads both very public and very necessary to building stronger families. And today’s generation of parents are their role models!

The case can be made that our very health depends on it, too. Health and wellness begins with parents at the birth of their children. When health care professionals consider dads as equal parents, they allow dads to get even more immersed in their child’s well-being. This could be as simple as calling dads by name in waiting rooms, speaking to and making eye contact with dads in appointments, or reminder calls that address both parents. It could also mean that companies allow employees greater flexibility for both parents to simply attend child well-check visits.

The overall parenting community itself also stands to benefit greatly by including dads in marketing. Rather than pitting one parent’s expertise as superior to another, parents will see each other as allies and not as adversaries who are competing with one another. Dads won’t feel like outsiders, and that improved unity means everyone will work together more effectively and learn from one another. Unity between moms and dads will also help online parenting websites expand and deepen their discussions about store brands, schooling, medicine, nutrition, or simply seeking general parenting advice.

It’s a positive sign when moms and dads work to build greater unity and more cohesive parenting – and it will leave a better parenting legacy for children.

With great ‘Power Up’ comes great responsibility

Over two years ago, Jif started to let go of one of the most recognizable and old-fashioned, exclusionary slogans marketing has ever seen.

That slogan – “Choosy Moms Choose Jif” – was beginning to disappear from television ads, print material and its website. Specifically, the removal from its main menu and relative prominence of the website offered a powerful sign that Smucker’s, its parent company, might actually be eliminating a sexist vibe from its messaging.

The switch was a positive implication to dads that they finally mattered as parents and customers, and that the company was at last recognizing today’s modern family. The shuttering of the slogan indicated that Jif was serious about modernizing, catching up to the times and maximizing profit.jif22.jpg

But then it introduced a new product, and how easy it went back to its old ways. Behold Jif Power Ups, a bite-size snack that’s portable and convenient. It looks tasty enough, but taste can be a funny thing when it’s genderized. Then it’s just in poor taste.

That’s because Jif went back to its old ways by declaring the product offers “the goodness moms want.” While leaving dad out may seem like an innocent omission, the fact remains that Jif has a history of targeting who it wants as customers, and it’s sliding back to its old routine. It’s an unfortunate truth, especially as dads remain ever viable as parents and shoppers in a crowded field of grocers. Dads want to be treated as a member of the family, and they will when advertisers begin to use their power to exert control and influence over behavior in a positive fashion.

Until then, society has to wait while Jif trumpets the old-school notion that mom is the lead parent, with reality constantly proving otherwise.

If you head over to its Power Ups product page, you’ll surprisingly find some much needed inclusive language, plus humor from famed funnyman Neil Patrick Harris — who just happens to be a dad. If he knew of Jif’s marketing exclusion, it’s doubtful he’d be laughing, nor wanting to sponsor a product that doesn’t even consider him a primary target audience.

Dads are a crucial and equal part of the family, and they want goodness as much as anyone. It’s time for change, Jif.

Inclusivity wins: Kix phasing out old slogan

Its “Kid-Tested. Mother-Approved” slogan has adorned the box of Kix since 1978, but the famous multinational manufacturer has finally succumbed to the voices of fathers nationwide. General Mills quietly revised its long-standing motto with a new “Kid-Tested. Parent-Approved” saying that adorns its familiar and newly updated yellow Kix box.kix10-e1536595146302.jpg“Kix is excited to announce that we have updated our slogan to ‘Kid-Tested. Parent-Approved,’” said Mike Siemienas, General Mills spokesperson. “This new slogan is more inclusive as the word ‘parent’ applies to the individuals raising children.”

The new era begins after 40 years of proclaiming – through a familiar television commercial jingle – that “Kids love Kix for what Kix has got. Moms love Kix for what Kix has not.” In more recent years, dads regularly took to social media to voice displeasure, but those pleadings went largely unrecognized.

Siemienas said the updated slogan and new box “worked out well” so that both happened at the same time.

General Mills has yet to phase out the slogan entirely. Its Kix page at generalmills.com still trumpets the previous wording, and kixcereal.com not only contains the old slogan, but old box logos. Siemienas added that General Mills is working on updates to company websites.

For now, dads are overwhelmingly pleased with the Kix change. The National At-Home Dad Network – a volunteer-run, nonprofit which provides support, education and advocacy for stay-at-home dads – lauded the change on their Twitter page.

Kix boxes with the old slogan will likely still appear on store shelves, but any new boxes being produced have the new wording, according to Siemienas.

The box revision comes on the heels of a similar switch in the United Kingdom by Kellogg’s after pressure from dads who complained of its exclusionary Coco Pops box.