Why is Disney making dads out to be moms?

Sometimes it appears as if Disney can do no wrong.

Most of its movies are hits.  Disney TV is generally squeaky clean and safe.  Media acquisitions seem to be financial steals.  Its merchandising knows no bounds.  And a visit to one of its theme parks has become a consensus family destination of a lifetime for many.

But at least one part of it is a major letdown.

That’s because Disney Parks, a subsidiary responsible for the conception, building and managing of its theme parks and vacation resorts, offers a rather dad exclusionary feature on its website, disneyparks.com.

Click on the Vacation Planning menu tab, and you’ll find a section offering a Moms Panel, an inexcusable practice that leaves dads out in name, and in other unfortunate ways.disneymoms1.png

First, Disney Parks offers no Dads Panel counterpart, thus ignoring a father’s contribution and unique perspective for vacation planning.  By presenting no voice for dads and the viewpoints they might lend while families prepare for a dream destination, it directly ignores the indispensable influence of fathers.  Disney is also clearly saying that dads don’t handle this vacation planning facet of family life, and that dads don’t matter.

But wait – you say – there are some dads on the panel.

And therein lies problem number two, where it uses the term “mom” as an equal synonym for “parent” – a faulty, exclusionary approach when marketing to families, families which include dads.  There are very few products exclusively intended for one gender as parents, and vacation planning certainly is not one of them.

Alas, the term gender bias comes to mind.

Disney makes matters worse by trying to rationalize its practice of replacing the word parent with mom:

We understand that the role of “mom” is met differently from family to family, so we made sure to fill our panel with enthusiastic, dedicated and diverse individuals—moms, dads and other in the know family members—to help guide you with your vacation planning.

Note how the word mom is placed in quotes.  Here, at least in Disney’s world, all dads are no longer equal parents, they’re moms!

Let that sink in for a moment:  Disney is calling dads, moms.

Don’t dads matter to Disney more than this?  Must dads’ presence as equal parents be demeaned, it not outright ignored?  It’s wrong.  Dads matter every bit as moms.

Now take a look at those actual dads serving as Moms Panelists:  don’t these dads have a problem with this concept?  If one was called a mom at a public function, wouldn’t he correct the speaker?  Let’s hope so.  So why let it persist online, in print, for the entire world to see?  disneymoms2.jpg

This whole discomfiture is not just literally inaccurate – it’s gauche, inappropriate and disrespectful.

And ignoring the contribution of a father by way of exclusion in its name – Moms Panel – doesn’t exactly feel welcoming to fathers seeking information.  It leaves them out of the discussion, and makes them feel like outsiders – that is, if they even bother to find and examine the site in the first place.

What’s more, among its entire 27 panelists only two are dads?  That’s hardly representative of the population, nor its customer base.disneymoms3.jpg

Third, it’s beyond disappointing that the Moms Panel was unveiled in 2008, during these politically correct times.  It’s not like we excuse Jif for prolonging use of its old fashioned motto, but at least it was born during a time where its slogan was representative of a bygone era.  That slogan, too, is inappropriate and Jif is taking steps to minimize (perhaps eliminate) its use.

But 2008?  That’s a mere eight years ago.  In this so-called modern, gender sensitive, all-inclusive, equality-seeking world, doesn’t Disney have some high level PR officer who would’ve screened this before it even happened?

This entire Moms Panel endeavor reflects a huge lapse in judgement for a global mass media and entertainment conglomerate that considers its parks “the Happiest Place on Earth.”

Dads can’t be happy with this kind of treatment.disneymoms4.jpg

Whether or not you’ve made it to Disneyland or Disney World before, at least we can all say we’ve enjoyed its movies over the years, and we continue to be enthralled with its new Star Wars handiwork and future plans.

But that’s what makes the rub hurt even more, because with Disney, we expect more.  We don’t just want our expectations met, we want them to be exceeded.  Sure, that’s a lofty desire, and maybe a bit unfair, but that’s the standard Disney has set.  We expect greatness.  Perfection.  Happiness.

All of it makes Disney’s use of the Moms Panel name indefensible.

Not long ago, Amazon – the largest Internet-based retailer in the United States – finally responded to the PR nightmare known as Amazon Mom by quietly and suddenly changing its name to reflect dads’ contributions as parents.

Let’s hope Disney can make a swift change, too, and thereby stake its claim as the Happiest Panel on Earth.

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Do you say ‘my kids’ or ‘our kids’? The difference is big

For those of you who have children:  when you talk about your kids to others, do you refer to them as “my kids” or “our kids”?noodleandboo1

It’s a major difference, and that distinction of one word says a lot.  The former connotes a more possessive or singular approach, whereas the latter sends a signal of togetherness and unity.  If you use the “my” term, it may seem harmless and might be completely unintentional, but it conveys a certain message – like it or not – to others and to your partner.

Take a look at Noodle & Boo, makers of luxurious baby and pregnancy skin care.  The product is found at high-end retailers, coveted by Hollywood stars, and it generally adheres to an impressive and upstanding company mission statement while supporting several charitable causes.

Now check out its latest ad, where it mentions “Only the best will do for her baby,” and the “first 100 mamas to follow @noodleandboollc and tag #mamaprofile with your favorite photo of you and baby…”

Isn’t the baby his, too?noodleandboo2

noodleandboo3Don’t dads use social media?

We can’t deny that some products and ads are marketed toward a certain gender, especially pregnancy skin care.  However, this ad was printed in a parents magazine.  And this particular product line it’s selling in this ad – it’s for babies.  That child is to be raised by parents, which includes dads.  No marketing piece should ever exclude dads and make them to be the lesser parent, as if they don’t matter.  Using the word “parent” instead of “mama” won’t make or break the business model, and it won’t make a female look away in disgust.

But it will make a dad feel included, feel like he matters to a company, and will make him take notice.

Believe us when we say dads notice.  Take a look on social media to find all the dads fully engaged in marketing messages and how they’re portrayed by retailers.  Old Navy, Huggies, Jif, Amazon – these are just a few of the companies that have been singled out by dads through viral campaigns to get them to change their ways.

It’s disappointing to see the exclusion in word choice and via advertisement photos, but that practice continues at its website, where a dad is nearly non-existent – save for a few celebrity dads it uses to sell its line of products.

When it comes to parenting, let’s hope Noodle & Boo acknowledges all the dads out there, because with Noodle & Boo, only the best will do, and dads count too.

Plum Organics shows why every parent should buy Plum Organics

Marketing is, in a way, a lot like baseball.plumorganics2

One good at-bat can erase a bad one, and in the world of marketing, companies get plenty of turns at the plate. Those at-bats can come in the form of television advertising, display ads, billboards, radio ads, promotions, Internet, social media, and on and on.

In our view from the dadmarketing dugout, we’d like to say “we’ve seen it all,” but we all know that’s not true.

For every mainstay like Jif Peanut Butter – who can’t seem to make any hitting adjustments despite facing different pitchers (customers) which it used to encounter decades ago – we find new players and new attitudes infusing the marketing game.

Those fresh approaches to the game are called game changers, and our latest marketing discovery (right) could be the best magazine advertisement of all-time, but at the risk of hyperbole, let’s at least declare it a solid walk-off homer for the ages.

Let us reintroduce you to Plum Organics, a company who competes in the Baby Division.

For most teams in this group, marketers commonly like to play defense, or at least conservatively at best, by only dialoguing with moms in its messaging. Rather than taking new, inventive approaches to the game, these teams recoil, shy away and almost shrink when it comes to the plausible notion that dads raise children in today’s world. Most of these teams would rather play the game the same way it has always been played, and stick to a formula that it believes is safe.

We wrote about Plum Organics back in January and it wasn’t all favorable. But today, after we encountered its latest magazine display ad, we found it has unveiled a renewed swing with an energetic approach that finally matches its overall fashionable style.plumorganics1

Concerning its website, plumorganics.com, you’ll note that we penned: “Based on its website, the company actually seems fairly admirable. We love its charitable efforts, admire its refreshingly generous use of dads in photos, and dig the story of how Neil Grimmer founded the company.”

In our general assessment of marketing to dads, we’re not looking for total dad inclusion to the point of mom exclusion – only equality in parenting to where no one is left out. Neither gender should be discriminated against. Both parents count.

Plum Organics’s latest ad, where a dad is prominently featured, pulls off a clear message that dads unequivocally are parents, too. Take note that another parent, presumably mom, is also featured in the background holding a child. But in this ad it’s dad who takes the spotlight, and it works. Wonderfully.

In fact, we love everything about this advertising masterpiece: its layout, its font selection, its soft feel, its simplicity, its captivating photo upon which nearly any dad can relate. We embrace it all.

The continuity continues on its website (it always has), as well as robust use of the ever-nifty, super-solid #ParentingUnfiltered hashtag. Why couldn’t Similac use such an inclusionary hashtag? Why can’t Amazon Mom consider a unified name? Why can’t Jif step up to the plate with a new attitude?

Here’s to the marketers of Plum Organics, whose sweet swing instantly put it among the very elite of Major League Marketing, ensuring optimum business operations where it counts, making it attractive to buyers of all shapes and sizes – and genders.

Why Amazon Mom is like a misshelved library book

A trip to the library is a lot like driving on a long-distance vacation.

It’s fun and fascinating, and whether you’re looking for a particular book or just browsing for whatever meets the eye, it’s a pathway to enjoyment that makes the journey as fun as the destination.amazonmom

One time, though, a friend of mine was cruising through the library, and on a mission.  He was looking for a particular book, and nothing else would do.  He visited the right floor, the right section and the right shelf.  The system said it was available, but it wasn’t.  Even the help of a kind librarian was to no avail.

As it turns out, he eventually found that book.  He said he remembers happily holding it, but also scolding it, as if to ask, “If I didn’t know where you were, how could I find you?”

A recent retail experience again reminded him of that misshelved book.

Amazon knows a thing or two about books.  It started as an online bookstore, and eventually diversified to sell nearly anything that can have a price tag placed on it.  It is the largest Internet based company in the United States, and it’s often our first stop shopping destination.

We love Amazon, and it loves us back.  With regular enticements like free shipping, discounts, Black Friday sales, and rewards programs, it’s everything we’d want in a shopping experience, even if we can’t touch and smell the item first.

Then, several years ago it introduced Amazon Mom.amazonmom2

For years, dads have been unfairly mislabeled “Mr. Mom” – a name they find both offensive and erroneous (would anyone dare call a working mother, “Mrs. Dad”?) – so it’s easy to make a sophisticated deduction about what Amazon Mom might entail.

But we don’t want to spoil the fun; here’s Amazon Mom’s own curious self-description:  “(It) is a prime membership program aimed at helping parents and caregivers in the prenatal through toddler years use Amazon to find and save on products that families need.  Amazon Mom is open to anyone, whether you’re a mom, dad, grandparent or caretaker.”

So let’s get this straight:  a dad can join a mom program?  The word mom has become a generic term for parent, like Kleenex is for facial tissues?

And then dads must stop to think:  realistically – as a dad – is Amazon Mom speaking to you?  Does this program’s name suggest something that you would want to browse?  Would you walk into a “mom” retailer, or down a “mom” aisle in a bricks-and-mortar store?

Also recently, we had a pleasant 140-character conversation with the friendly folks at 4moms, a baby robotics company founded in March 2006 which makes high-tech baby gear.

4moms enlightened us that its company name is derived from an initial focus group held that consisted of four mothers.

Cute and unique, indeed, but in a baby world where businesses purposely leave dads out of the parenting mix, it’s a saying that’s well-worn.

Had the name been 3moms or 5moms, we would have never taken issue with anything.  But imagine that the wildly-successful burger-maker franchise Five Guys had been named 4Guys – that means something else entirely, doesn’t it?  We’d all perceive them differently, and wouldn’t women be deservedly up in arms?

We’re sure the desire of 4moms to match true company history with the play-on-words was too good for them to pass up, but you know who gets passed up in the process?

Dads.

Dads are parents too, and it’s time businesses start listening to fathers everywhere.

Judging by its products alone, 4moms seems to have a bright future ahead.  And with a financial backing like no other in cyberspace, Amazon will probably carry on for a long time, that is, unless the recent uproar forces at least an overdue name change.

But like that lost library book, if my friend doesn’t know where these companies are or doesn’t notice them because they’re not speaking to him (he’s even a dad), then how can he find them?  They must not care about dads as customers, right?  If a product is not categorized and shelved properly like that book, do consumers stand a chance at ever finding it, enjoying it, or even using it?

If these companies really cared, perhaps they could start marketing their products to its true customers.

As in, all of them.