No Response is a Response – And a Revealing One in Marketing

Already eight times this year, Carnation Breakfast Essentials has posted to social media some sort of mom-only message.

Once could be excused as a mistake. Twice an oversight. But eight times? That’s a pattern.

However, if you want to dig deeper into the true nature of Carnation, look at how it interacts on social. There you’ll discover only a smattering of fan comments, but Carnation takes the time to respond to nearly all of them.

We’ve left comments regarding its imbalanced messaging along with polite requests to be more inclusive – only to receive nothing in response.

Imagine sharing your thoughts at a meeting and not only being met with total silence but being ignored and not even looked at. Dads feel like this all the time.

Carnation is part of Nestlé, the multinational food and drink conglomerate headquartered in Switzerland. It is the largest publicly held food company in the world.

If Nestlé’s purpose really is – as its website states – “to unlock the power of food to enhance quality of life for everyone,” then everyone means everyone.

But that’s not all Nestlé believes. Check out what it writes under, our values: At Nestlé, respect has a special and powerful meaning. It has a huge impact on the way we work and run our business. Our values are rooted in respect. A respect for ourselves. For others. For diversity. And for the generations who will follow in our footsteps. Setting out our values is crucial – but living by them makes the difference.

Respect. It means due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others. If that’s true, Nestlé has some work to do.

It’s time for Nestlé to live its values, because generations who will follow in its footsteps just might be customers for life if it treats them as such.


Dads, Kids and Gardening Grow Great Together

While it may be a mother – as in, Mother Earth – who gets most of the attention related to outdoors and nature, there’s a lot fathers can do to play their part.

Oddly enough, old stereotypes behold mom’s domain is inside the home, while dad’s is everything outside of it. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The truth is, any parent can foster a child’s love of growing plants and gardening.

Many dads are fervent champions of growing fruits and vegetables, and using the land to make food instead of paying grocery stores top dollar for it.

But no matter the impetus, there’s great value in creating a garden with children regardless of how much space you have. Here’s a suggestion – start small. Like, really small. There are a lot of fun micro terrariums and fairy garden kits in stores, and they all grow fast. Receiving that instant gratification can spark a child’s interest immediately, and you can start those kits in any season.

If you’d like to get a little more serious with gardening that involves seed packets, dirt and weeding, potted plants fit just about anywhere. Any flower will do, but sunflowers are particularly fun. And tomatoes and potatoes are also good pot dwellers.

Beyond the obvious benefits of eating healthy, gardening offers dads and kids a lot more. One of those is bonding. It will give you and your children an opportunity to work on a project together while talking. That’s right, actual conversation! If you’re looking for a chance to lessen screen time, this is it.

Gardening is also a great workout. Digging, weeding, bending, stretching – sure, it burns calories but there’s also the spinoff perks of lowering blood pressure, reducing stress and more. So not only are you growing healthy, natural food, you’re doing plenty for your mind, body and soul.

Nurturing a green thumb in your child can also turn him from anti-vegetable to all-in. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as seeing what you have planted flourish to life. You might even get your kids to eat, say, radishes; bring them from the store and they’ll scoff, but your kids are far more likely to eat something they’ve grown.

It also gives kids some much-needed independence. You can plant items together, but consider giving them a section or pots all to themselves. Let them be totally responsible for water, weeding and ensuring sunlight. They can even mark their seeds with fun signs and give them pet names, too.

Many like to start kids very young with other extracurriculars (music and sports come to mind), so why not do the same with gardening? Like anything we do in life, the point is to have fun, and gardening offers the uniqueness of parents and kids working side-by-side.

Have You Ever Boycotted a Product or Company?

For as long as Jif peddled peanut butter, it seems, it rode a sexist, old-fashioned motto along the way. In fact, it was from 1966 to 2016 whereby “Choosy Moms Choose Jif” wasn’t just a saying, it was a deliberate message alienating half of its customers. It also cemented the widespread meaning that it was mom’s job to shop, prepare meals, pack lunches and essentially, maintain the house.

It took exactly 50 years until Jif decided enough was enough. It shelved the backwards slogan after realizing that dads were offended. But did it also make the change because it affected profit?

We’ve heard from numerous parents who refused to purchase a product for the way it treats customers. Some refuse to buy the product and remain silent in their act. Others take to the Internet or use word of mouth to rally for change.

Take, for instance, Ragú, where scores of parents regularly criticize the long-time sauce maker on social media for its retrograde headline.

Before that there was Ban Kix cereal Slogan, a Facebook page urging General Mills to end its outdated “Kid-Tested, Mother-Approved” saying. Its activism ended, of course, after Kix revamped the saying in 2018.

Even earlier, an at-home father successfully petitioned Huggies to drop its demeaning ad campaign in 2012 which portrayed men as incapable of changing diapers. His petition riled over 1,000 people to vent and sign his request.

Boycotts have historically played an important role in social change and have often proved successful.

Have you ever boycotted a product or company over its treatment of you as a customer? We’d love to hear from you.

Playtex Baby Forgets Half of Its Customers

The tagline for Playtex Baby is three simple words: We Know Babies.

But does it know parents? As in, all parents. Visit its website and you’ll find a special section titled, Mommy & Baby, where there are a handful of useful, yet one-sided stories such as:

• Mom-to-Be’s Guide to
• Playtex Innovations
• The Love Connection: 5 Ways to Bond with Baby
• Be Ready for Baby’s Arrival with Eight Must-Have Registry Items

The first story makes you believe its content might be focused on breastfeeding or pregnancy. Alas, it’s a sales pitch for its primary products – bottles, Diaper Genies, pacifiers and sippies. Of course, none of these are specifically mom-centric items. Playtex Baby proves as much by using a photo of a dad with this Mommy section’s “love connection” story.

Enjoy that photo of the dad – it’s the only one you’ll find on its entire website. It’s a classic case of misrepresenting families and biting the hand of the person whose salary likely helps to pay for every Playtex item purchased.

Playtex Baby serves as another example of a company who ignores half of its customers. Doing so demeans and ignores the irreplaceable need for dads.

Do better, Playtex. There are a lot of options for baby products, and customers are watching.

Making Memories While Shopping With Children

There are plenty of parents who denounce shopping with kids – the begging, the meltdowns, spilled food, bickering, maybe even lost children – but the truth is that kids want their parents’ time.

Dads seek the same thing moms do during their shopping experience, and that’s building a closer connection with their kids.

So, fear not fellow shoppers – with a little bit of preparation, organization and well-established, realistic expectations, a visit to the store can strengthen bonds between parents and children. As for the products you buy, it can even increase product and brand loyalty.

Behavioral issues result in stores mostly because children are bored. Kids end up not being invested in the task at hand the way adults are: completing the to-buy list, watching the budget and reading nutrition labels.

No matter how young they may be, children can have an active role in shopping, even if it means playing a shopping game, helping to find items on the shelf, or simply weighing the items on the produce scales. It’s those actions that can make children feel a valid part of contributing to a family through problem solving. It teaches them to be patient during those times in life while forced to wait or do things they’d rather not. It delays instant gratification and builds self-control when things don’t always go one’s way – all essential life skills, particularly ones used later as parents.

Simply put, shopping as a family with the children can make a simple chore an event. And if you’re still not convinced that taking children to the store is your idea of fun, consider this: you certainly don’t remember all of the meals your parents cooked for you as children, but you do know that the food provided you with nourishment, contentment, energy and nutrition. It helped you grow, and you treasure the memories of sharing mealtime together.

The same can be said for shopping with children. Yes, it’s a menial task that could bring out the worst in you, but examined with a different perspective, that same task can become one of many fond experiences for your kids. Besides, if you are inflicted with that added guilty feeling that you might not be spending enough quality time with your kids, shopping creates another opportunity to strengthen and enhance the parent-child relationship.

These shopping experiences strengthen bonds with parents and siblings, but believe it or not, it also builds product and brand loyalty with kids. For those of us who grew up using a certain product or brand there’s great comfort in using the same products of our youth. It affords a dependable, trustworthy feeling to enjoy the same products once used as children. But imagine the stronger allegiance to a brand that one purposely chooses at a very young age – and then continues using it for life.

There’s a lot to like about that unique scenario if you’re a marketer. It makes reaching those young children-turned-adults much easier, and they’re far more bankable as lifelong customers. After all, numerous studies have shown that children wield heavy influence on their parents’ purchasing activity, and dads, in particular, have a propensity to purchase treats for rewards, to indulge loved ones, or yes, even to avoid in-store meltdowns. Marketers who can accurately target and influence dads as well as the children who accompany them will have much better odds at keeping them as customers for a lifetime.

So the next time you head out to the store, bring the kids along, and someday they’ll pass on those fun memories to their children.

Daddy the Caring Parent

You know mother and mommy and momma and mama
Grandma and granny and memaw and nana
But do you recall
The most overlooked parent of all?

Daddy the caring parent,
His generosity – it shows
And if you ever saw him
You would even saw it grows.

So often companies and media
Ignore him to the point it pains
They never give good daddy
Attention he deserves in gains.

Then one random Christmas Eve
Santa came to say
“Daddy, you are not so trite
You’re equal, competent, full of might!”

Then how society saw him
In a brand new light, you see?
“Daddy the caring parent
You’re a parent, we agree!”

Ragú Snubs Equality with Old-Fashioned Slogan

You might be hard-pressed to find a food item so picked apart, scrutinized, debated and polarizing as spaghetti sauce. There it sits unassumingly in your pantry with other staples. yet a mountain of adaptations make it all the more worthy of discussion.

Homemade vs. store bought. Garlicky vs. sweet. Chunky vs. smooth. Meat vs. meatless. And the rabbit holes go deeper when you consider the various pastas with which it can be served.

It’s enough to make someone … use a sexist tagline?

That’s what happened when long-time pasta sauce Ragú ushered in an old-fashioned motto destined for contempt. It’s even more bewildering when you consider the actions of other well-established brands, Jif and Kix, which in overdue fashion, dropped their embarrassingly outdated sayings following decades of pleas.

Ragú introduced its “Cook Like a Mother” campaign nearly one year ago and still gets consistently roasted each time it posts on social media. With once strong taglines like a “full serving of veggies” and “Simmered in Tradition,” it’s no wonder Ragú has sauce on the face this time around.

If you’re a dad, you’re offended that Ragú can’t respect or acknowledge your gender. If you’re a mom, you’re insulted how Ragú insinuates it’s your job to cook. And no matter who you are, you’re probably upset at its tasteless play-on-profanity.

Ragú, as you might expect, doesn’t see it this way.

“The attention-getting ‘Cook Like a Mother’ tagline takes aim at everyone, regardless of gender or culinary skillset,” its press release argues, “reminding them that, with a delicious jar of RAGÚ sauce in hand, anyone and everyone can ‘Cook like a Mother.’”

Ragú’s marketing agency, Digitas, doubles down on the tagline.

“Cooking ‘Like A Mother’ means creating an amazing meal even if you are not a mother or a skilled cook,” said Tim Mattimore, Digitas.

It’s a good thing Ragú is here to remind everyone that they can cook a meal even if they’re not a mother. Perhaps an auto parts store will run a comparable slogan insisting that anyone can fix a car even if they’re not a father. Or play sports. Or hunt. Or provide for the family.

Now all we need is someone to remind us that there are other sauces on the store shelf.

Oh, right – we just did.

Prego anyone?

Top Books Celebrating Dads and Kids

If you’re a dad, it probably didn’t take long for you to realize that you’re a bit underrepresented in children’s books. Consider the hit parade from your child’s bookshelf: The Kissing Hand, Love You Forever, Where the Wild Things Are, The Cat in the Hat, Are You My Mother?, Guess How Much I Love You, I Love You Stinky Face, Is Your Mama a Llama, Runaway Bunny, and On the Night You Were Born.

These memorable books all have one thing in common: dads don’t exist.

And in other stories where dad was moderately present, it always seemed as if the mom was the caring, nurturing one who raised the children, while dad was relegated to the background at best, or merely comic relief who needed corrected by the mother’s sensibility (think Berenstain Bears).

However, dad-centric stories do exist. Here’s a list of some of the best.

Because Your Daddy Loves You

By Andrew Clements, illustrated by R.W. Alley. A daddy-daughter day at the beach offers plenty of opportunities for the parent to frustratingly lose his cool, but he doesn’t. This dad shows love and patience every step of the way.

Daddy Loves Me

By Karen Moore, illustrated by Mandy Stanley. This endearingly cute and simplistic rhyming book portrays a hands-on father doing it all and demonstrating love throughout the day.

Daddy’s Home!

By Rosanne Parry, illustrated by David Leonard. Do you remember a time when the house didn’t seem complete until dad got home from work? This book celebrates the ritual a family has every time dad arrives home.

Daddy’s Girl

By Garrison Keillor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser. The juggernaut book duo of Keillor and Preiss Glasser is destined to induce some tears, especially if you relish an affectionate daddy-daughter relationship.

I Love My Daddy

By Sebastien Braun. Light on text but heavy in heart, this doting dad shares fun and affection has he cares for his child through gentle and warm illustrations. It’s perfect and calming for bedtime.

Darth Vader and Son

By Jeffrey Brown. You won’t have a bad feeling about this cute take on evil Vader being reimagined as a sensitive father to Luke Skywalker. Love it, you will.

Just Me and My Dad

By Mercer Mayer. This “Little Critter” view of a father-son camping trip is filled with trademark colorful illustrations that offer plenty to look at. Whether or not you’re big on the great outdoors, you’ll appreciate the warm feeling of just hanging with dad

Is it Really Social Media if You Aren’t Being Social?

A basic definition of social is to be in pleasant companionship with friends or associates. Used as a verb, to socialize is to associate or mingle sociably with others.

Social media, therefore, is a form of electronic or digital communication through which users can remain, well, social. It’s a way to stay in touch, to interact, to associate with others.

Which is why it comes as a surprise how Carnation Breakfast Essentials isn’t using social media for what it’s intended. It isn’t being social with everyone, especially its customers — which include both parents. Its recent string of posts have excluded dads multiple times.

Millions of people use numerous social media platforms every day. Companies who use social networking services like Twitter and Instagram know the value in reaching customers – it increases a brand’s awareness. So, they do whatever they can to engage and socialize via content that’s appealing.

But if you’re purposely favoring one parent over the other – or, outright ignoring them – are you really being social?

Imagine you’re at a party with a partner. You’ve encountered friends, met new people, but they’ve only talked to your partner, not you. No one’s bothered to look at or acknowledge you. It’s like you aren’t even there. That’s how dads often get treated as parents.

Being social involves starting up a conversation and being a good listener. Carnation should make it a priority to treat all parents with the same dignity.

One of These Things is Not Like the Other: How Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are Treated Differently in Advertising

In basic form, the cherished holidays of Mother’s and Father’s Day are quite similar. Each intends to honor mom and dad through a celebration of the parental bond, offer tribute to relevant roles in the family and give thanks for the gift of life.

In advertising, however, things play out different. Companies tend to market each holiday with much disparity. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

For Mother’s Day, buybuy Baby highlighted a unique promotion titled, “Mompreneurs,” which showcased several mom-owned brands. For its Father’s Day messaging, there was no mention of Dadpreneurs, let alone dads – only a sale related to baby showers.

NUK offered a wonderful message for Mother’s Day. For Father’s Day, its advertising cupboard was bare.

Similarly, Huggies offered a cute note to moms yet nothing for dads. This was consistent with its social media messaging, which left some parents scratching their heads in June.

Little Debbie had similar holiday ads, but you’ll note subtle differences. One encouraged customers to celebrate moms through its display of a nurturing image. The other assured that dads love to eat sweets, and did not share any comparable photos.

Owlet took an approach often used on Mother’s Day. Namely, moms need rest. However, that same tactic wasn’t applied on Father’s Day. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find that notion used by anyone on Father’s Day. This is a conundrum, of course – what dad doesn’t need sleep, too?

Healthy Family Project offered some fantastic brunch recipes and ideas for Mother’s Day. But for dads, not one speck of food was left in the email, not even a crumb too small for a mouse.

Munchkin ads are a curious lot. It’s easy to infer they were written by females when you analyze the wording. The dad ad spoke directly to moms: “Get the new father figure a gift he’ll love.” But on Mother’s Day it doesn’t work the other way around. Instead, it also speaks to moms: “Mama, you deserve the best.” Copy writers might consider the voice when crafting ads. After all, what would motivate a father to purchase a product when they’re not being spoken to in the first place?

Papa Johns used that voice more effectively. Both ads spoke to either gender, or kids, or both. You also didn’t see pink, blue or any gender specific color. Its noble approach didn’t ignore, judge, or label. Of course, Papa Johns could have played up its gender specific name but didn’t need to. Well done, Papa.

Premama made a thoughtful attempt to console during what are difficult holidays for some. But both ads, like Munchkin, were directed at females. Imagine how much more connected fathers might have felt to a company that excludes in name but offers more to men than meets the eye.

Canvas Champ offered fun, eye-catching images which both portrayed nurturing. However, it forgot three important words: Happy Father’s Day.

Advertising Equality Matters

Changing the way we view, treat, and market to dads is necessary because there is a lot at stake. Dads represent half the parenting population. That equates to a significant loss of revenue, and profit, for companies and businesses not catering to the dad demographic. Also at risk is the image of dads as parents for this and future generation of boys and girls who will eventually become parents and potential consumers themselves.

A critical look at how the media shapes our opinions through these holidays should encourage us to change the way we think about, view and treat dads.