Someone needs to tell Luvs that dads change diapers

When Huggies unveiled its infamous Dad Test campaign in 2012, the negative reaction was swift enough for Huggies to make an immediate change in its marketing approach.  The ripple effect was wide, as plenty of ad agencies learned an abrupt lesson:  dads are not buffoons.

But just because dads were being used less and less as the butt of advertising jokes doesn’t mean they had instantly achieved equal footing with moms.  Nearly five years after the Huggies debacle, dads have yet to be treated like true parents in the world of marketing.

luvs2.jpgTake a look at the website of Luvs diapers, which unveiled material putting the emphasis on mom as the lead parent.  In today’s modern, dual-parenting, two-parent-working-world, it’s hard to imagine Luvs would actually relegate dads to the backseat quite like this.

luvs1.jpgLuvs’s website speaks only to moms on exactly three of its front page sliders by excluding dads as equivalent, equal, identical parents in more ways than one – even to the startling point of exclaiming its diaper as the “Official Diaper of Experienced Moms.”

None of this comes as much of a stretch when you realize that its parent company – P&G – also brought us the highly exclusionary Thank You Mom Olympic campaign, which no doubt made dads cringe while being disregarded as equal child-raising parents during the world’s largest athletic competition. More likely, it sent shockwaves down the spines of dads, who like moms, spent many late afternoons, evenings and weekends shipping their children to incessant practices and games.

luvs5.jpgThe exclusion continues on its Facebook page, where it gracelessly invites only mothers to join in on the Luvs conversation, leaving dads everywhere in the dust.  Moreover, it offers Momojis as part of its “Official Keyboard of Experienced Parents.”  Here Luvs makes the unpleasant mistake of insisting that mom is an exact literal synonym for parent, when we all know that parents luvs4include both moms and dads.

In other words, all parents aren’t only moms.

With competitors Huggies and Pampers also offering mom-only sections on their respective websites with no comparable dad counterpart, they too insist that only moms change diapers, leaving dads to wonder what it takes to get respect in the parenting world.

It’s a surprising slow-to-change world when it comes to marketing to parents, but here’s hoping Luvs will make some quick and easy edits by spreading equal amounts of its name to both genders before its curious approach reaches Huggies proportions.

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Can’t dads put sunscreen on kids?

aveenobaby2It’s ironic how there are some who admonish dads for their lack of parental involvement, and some who spend their time furthering that notion through advertising.

Take, for instance, this parent magazine ad for Aveeno Baby, produced by a company who believes that it’s only mom’s duty to handle a child’s skin protection.  That company may argue that “market research indicates…” or “readers prefer…” or “our focus groups suggest…” – but the fact is that it’s furthering a perception which is unfair, sexist and wrong.

Dads shop.  Dads parent.  Dads care.  And, well, dads apply sunscreen.

If you aren’t bothered by this chauvinistic ad, you should be for more reasons than one.  Not only does it disregard and intentionally exclude dads, it also uses the image of a boy to sell its product, the very product that will one day ignore this same boy should he become a father someday.  Spouses, too, should be bothered by this gender annexation:  that person they’re ignoring is your partner, your equal, your helpmate in this adventure called parenting.

Interestingly, last week we received a note from @KnowYourObama, who said, “Marketers don’t market to dads as parents because, mostly, they’re not.”

There’s no telling why this person believe this, but we wanted to chat a little more, and the following brief conversation ensued:

@dad_marketing:  “I think you might have offended Obama, plus a lot of other dedicated dads.”

@KnowYourObama:  “Obama’s a good dad, yes. But good dads – dads – are hard to find. Yay for the good ones.”

Here at DM Headquarters, we have no hard data to prove that there are more dedicated dads than uninvolved dads, but there should at least be some protection against libel, or perhaps some rules which guide what marketers can or can’t say.aveenobaby

Marketing departments have been saying or doing whatever they wanted for years, sometimes with little adaptation for societal changes – all in the pursuit of the almighty dollar.  It takes some real honorable companies to take a stand and do what is right and not just offer lip service (check out Jif-maker Smucker’s, and its “promise” page).

And who – you might ask – makes Aveeno Baby lotion?  None other than Johnson & Johnson, who has a history of waffling on gender equality.

To quote a word from Aveeno’s own ad, parents (dads included) have “trusted” Aveeno Baby and Johnson & Johnson for years.  When will that trust be returned?

Fresh perspective from Baby Brezza

babybrezza1Companies like Similac only wish to target its product to mothers, because unfortunately, it still believes that moms solely handle the reins when it comes to feeding babies.

But then you have different companies like Baby Brezza, who offer a progressive, free-thinking approach to its marketing and advertising.

Check out its latest ad (featured), which uses the inclusive word, “parenting.”

Imagine how different this ad would have looked had it chosen to use the word “mothering” instead of “parenting.”

Even with a photo that only includes mom, by using that complete, all-encompassing term, it makes dads feel like they’re being spoken to – like they count.

Over at babybrezza.com, you’ll find a site that mimics the ad, where uses of parenting abound, just as the testimonials impressively reference non-biased terms such as “families” and “parents.” The videos also include dad feeding baby, and includes a special section “Kitchen Time with Dad.”

It’s no wonder Baby Brezza received awards from Parent Tested Parent Approved and the National Parenting Center.

Keep up the good work, Baby Brezza.

Would you tattoo Gerber on your arm?

Sure, this 2006 ad (featured) is a little old, but it’s BDM (before dadmarketing), so we feel it’s worth a little attention here today.harley

There’s something to be learned from the magnificence of Harley-Davidson’s marketing team. It’s difficult to name another brand where its customers are willing to permanently etch its logo on their bodies.

The ultra-cool aura of a Harley has moved beyond its outlaw biker days and found its place among a variety of customers – both genders included – that seek a certain image and freedom.

When you buy a Harley, you’re not really buying a motorcycle, you’re buying a lifestyle.

This featured ad proves that a classic, established brand steeped in tradition is willing to go non-traditional when marketing its product to customers.

You don’t have to overanalyze the ad – it speaks for itself in simplistic terms. No, that’s not just a man in the photo, it’s a dad! And a baby stroller? Whoa, would Johnson & Johnson, or Boppy, or Desitin, or Similac, et al, even dare consider putting anyone other than a mother in control of stroller wheels in one of its ads? Hardly, as those marketers can’t move beyond the fact that mothers have no more instinctive ability to care for children than fathers, yet their ads hardly reflect that fact.

Check out Juicy Juice’s “Moms Knows Best” promo it just unveiled today, a mere two days before Father’s Day.  Talk about a slap in the face to dads everywhere.

Whether you’re a parent or not, a male or female, it’s hard not to smile at the genius of Harley’s ad. Sure, this ad targets guys first, but Harley has no stereotypical customer.

It’s this kind of thinking that has made Harley-Davidson what it is today, and why so many other businesses should have that same mindset, rather than not speaking to dads when it comes to the big bucks it spends on marketing.

Nice work, Harley-Davidson, and keep on ridin.’

A quiz: what kind of magazine will it be?

whatkindofdad1Just when we think American Baby magazine is leaning toward doing something right by placing a dad on the cover of its June 2015 issue (no doubt a gratuitous Father’s Day nod), we turn inside to find an article trying to be humorous, and rather offends.

First of all, we know ABM is geared toward mothers, despite its name. The advertising and writing all fuel the bias that moms are the lead parent, and that dads don’t count. For a magazine to continue with a title name that truly suggests nothing otherwise (yes, both women and men have the ability to care for babies), this is wrong – but you have to remember this magazine’s mission as you proceed with this piece. After all, a quick flip through ABM’s pages indicate the heavily unbalanced photographic tally of 44 images of moms, compared to just 11 dads. It’s like this every month.

If language expresses intent, then what does that lopsided ratio suggest?

In case you still had some doubt in your mind, the article titled “What Kind of Dad Will He Be?” (available online here), should cement the fact that ABM disregards dads with nearly every step it takes. Again, we know the magazine and this particular story favors moms – of course, there’s a need for that in this world – but why not within this same issue or another one, have a similarly titled story written for dads asking “What Kind of Mom Will She Be?”

The flimsy bone that ABM offers dads on the cover is forcefully snatched away on page 3’s table of contents, after one quickly realizes that there’s not a single article in its so-called “Father’s Day issue” offering dads a way to better themselves as fathers, or why dads mean something to families, or how to plan for a fun Father’s Day, or even the social media loving “dad bod.”

We can even look past Sarah Schmelling’s humorous tone, which somehow finds a way to dig at men by using every possible sexist connotation imaginable. By comparison, do women really find it funny when men try to be comical and use the, “a woman’s place is in the kitchen” line?

Let’s forget all that for now, though, and look at two inconspicuous items of note:

  1. Check out the photo caption at the top of page 56 (pictured above). “He may not even need coaching to become your parenting team’s MVP!” Talk about incongruous writing – first AMB is acknowledging that dads are on the parenting team (and the possible MVP, no less!) – yet the rub is in the first six words:  “He may not even need coaching”?  That’s some seriously curious language, because mothers bear no more instinctive abilities to parent a child than fathers.  One can argue whether being a parent is an instinct or an acquired skill, but one parent doesn’t possess the skill more than the other simply by way of gender.  Although this website talks about a slightly different but related topic, here’s what one wise, hipster homemaker has to say about dads and babysitting.
  2. In the last section of the article under “MOSTLY C’S,” the author uses the phrase “Mr. Mom.”  Don’t get us started on the use of that term (because we already have), but in short, would anyone dare call a working mother “Mrs. Dad”?

It’s hard to give the author kudos for the wonderful, cute ending, “Few things are more fun for a child…” when the previous sentence exhausts the last of several tired, unflattering stereotypes, suggesting that every dad must live “The Hangover” lifestyle every weekend.

C’mon dadmarketing, you might say, have a sense of humor.

It’s scarcely amusing when ABM pushes the dads-don’t-matter-to-us agenda every month, and it’s in a supposed Father’s Day issue. Imagine if, for example, there was a dad-related food story with a photo caption that offered, “She may not even need coaching to start cooking like your own mom!”

With stereotypes, there’s always someone who isn’t laughing.

Hopefully by the next time ABM releases next year’s Father’s Day issue, we’ll have a magazine that helps celebrate, appreciate and thank dads for all they do, rather than create an unnecessary divide on the parenting team.

Spread the word on Sunbutter

Being a watchdog for the marketing/advertising world is a little bit like being a movie critic. We’re relentlessly trying to evaluate and analyze items we see, and it takes a lot for us to witness someone achieving perfection. We lean toward optimism, but after constant trying of teach an old dog new tricks, we sometimes find ourselves thrust into a position that seems cynical.

When writing about the businesses we see in print or on television, we encounter a quandary: the medium only has so much time and space to offer. We recognize the limitation, but also identify that much is expected and required of the company – the one who has invested sunbutterthousands or millions into its message and people.

A few days ago we came across a TV ad for Sunbutter, a product we use and love. We wrote about their dad exclusion, and Sunbutter immediately entered into a sincere discussion with dadmarketing. They recognized the fact they should be including dads in their slogan, and plan to incorporate them in future ads.

They “got it” right away.

We’re not here to proclaim validation. That is not our mission. Far more important, and the reason we write today, is that a company listened. We didn’t ask them to take our stance, just listen.

They didn’t appease us with a one-time corporate-speak email that they’ll “bring it to the attention of the marketing department.” They didn’t pacify us with promise of a special message-to-come only around Father’s Day. They didn’t set up a patronizing dads-only section of their website.

They simply listened. And we weren’t even expecting change, but that appears to be the direction they’re heading after some genuine, honest and open dialogue.

In short, we salute the people of Sunbutter for their exceptional ability to truly listen to their customers, because we’re one of them.

A good product – which they have – is only part of the equation. Good people is the other part of it. Having both is the sign of a great company with even better things to come.