Keeping baby safe at home involves everyone

You may have noticed the wonderful and much needed t-shirt now available from the fine folks at the National At-Home Dad Network.

American Baby magazine apparently has not.

Once again we turn to a misguided ABM headline that reads, “The number every mom should know.”americanbabyagain

The blurb talks about the importance of knowing the phone number of the national poison control center, and having it readily available. This wasn’t a case of a headline alone speaking to the mom, the story fortifies it by imploring mom to program that number into everyone’s cell phone – dad’s too, because not only is parenting evidently beyond his scope, so is technology.

This forced snub is another example American Baby magazine – and much of the mom-obsessed media – simply not speaking to dads. The powerful role the media plays in our culture then spills into our psyche and eventually into marketing, where so many unfairly assume that dad plays the part of babysitter when mom isn’t around.

Marketing personnel love playing into mom’s ego as the lead parent, a brutal, old fashioned assumption that she must carry the cash and handle all the shopping because dad is at work.

That notion may have been valid many decades ago, but we all know that’s not true today.

If by chance ABM is reading along here, don’t sit at the next editorial meeting and decide to make a gratuitous “for dads” section a permanent feature of your publication.

Instead, try doing something you’ve clearly never done before: talk to dads.

You’ll be a stronger magazine for it, because we know a few American babies who happen to have dads, and those men deeply care about the safety of their children, too.

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Give it a rest

I feel pretty confident in knowing that if I open a copy of Newsweek, that I’ll be able read about the news. If I pick up TV Guide, it will cover the topic of television. Sports Illustrated, naturally, deals with sports.

What about American Baby magazine? Well, as you might imagine, it discusses babies and parenting. Since most babies aren’t prone to pick up magazines and read them, you would think its primary audience would be parents.

And you would be wrong.

It’s moms.

American Baby magazine, and others like it – Parents, FamilyFun, Parenting, Babytalk – all seem to think that dads don’t count, and don’t exist.

In the November 2014 issue of American Baby magazine, for example, I counted images of 29 moms. And how many dads?

Zero.

Fifty-three pages and not one single dad (note: there were a few male doctors, but no dads).

But the ban on dads doesn’t stop there. It was the tiny little headline (pictured) that makes dads feel useless: “Better rest for you, mom.”americanbabymag2

That also evidences a slight tinge of narcissism. C’mon, don’t dads need rest, too? Don’t dads have a hand in taking care of kids? Just because the baby actually comes forth from a female, doesn’t mean that moms are instantly able to nurture better than dads, or that they must care for them more. Since these magazines believe the falsity that dads are less competent, shouldn’t that be all the more incentive for editors to have some articles scripted specifically toward fathers?

We all know that media has a heavy hand in shaping public perception. If it really wants to be a trustworthy source for news and information, and genuinely speak to all of its readers, then it should live by the adage that parenting involves fathers.

American Baby magazine wants to give mom better rest.

All dad wants is some respect.

Baby magazines don’t get dads

Imagine you’re in grade school, and despite having done nothing wrong or not having changed one bit, suddenly a group of people you thought were friends stopped involving you, inviting you and talking to you.americanbabypromo

Besides the obvious hurt, you’d probably need to look for a new set of friends. Like it or not, they don’t want any part of you, and you can’t force someone to do something.

Dads have seen this kind of event play out before. It’s exactly what parent and baby magazines do to them all the time.

In the official Dads Don’t Exist publication, otherwise known as American Baby magazine, we found a full page advertisement titled “Baby Registry,” which showcases eight different advertisers. There you’ll find perennial dad snubbers Boppy and Dreft telling readers that dads don’t care for their kids, buy things for their kids, or shop.

It’s no wonder we find skewed, short-sided propaganda like this, because dads are repetitively being told by marketers that they aren’t supposed to be caring for their kids.

And we’re not trying to take sides, but look what kind of mess was created in New York City when its Mayor did. He started a firestorm, creating instant tension by speaking out against the very people in charge of maintaining safety and order. The city had senseless strain (and probably still does) all because one person turned his back on a group of people.

American Baby magazine takes sides in nearly every issue by turning its back on dads, telling them they’re not valid parents.

In the case of dads, they can easily take their business elsewhere without saying a word. So imagine how much even more successful these businesses could be if they started involving, inviting and talking to dads.

Not the earth’s best advertisement

A friend of mine once had an unsettling experience at her job.

It was during a typical end-of-year holiday luncheon when the boss praised a group of workers for a successful project. The cantankerous male boss, however, had a rather old-fashioned attitude toward women in the workplace. He reluctantly accepted females, but didn’t see them as equals to males.earthsbest

Nevertheless, my friend had an equal part in helping this particular project reach its fruition.

At the luncheon, the company chief praised a group of male colleagues for their project work, while intentionally omitting my friend’s name.

She took the high road and never said a word about it again, but being left out really hurt her.

In fact, that same episode has sadly been replayed a few times since, yet she keeps silently marching on and doing her part. She really doesn’t want or need any praise, but rather, just wants to be acknowledged that she’s a part of the team.

This story bears a striking resemblance to the latest ad from Earth’s Best (featured), makers of earth friendly disposable diapers and wipes.

Note the small-in-print, but large-in-scope exclusion from the bottom of its American Baby magazine ad.

Don’t dads care? Don’t they love their little ones?

Not so, says Earth’s Best, who exhibits the identical uncomfortable and disconcerting conduct of my friend’s boss.

The dad exclusion continues on over at earthsbest.com, where it features a “For Mom, By Mom” section, leaving dads in the cyberspace dust.  It’s a not-so-subtle way of Earth’s Best saying that it doesn’t expect dads to visit its site, almost as if they aren’t able to point and click.  Very disturbing, indeed.

And while we’ll continue to take the high road, we won’t be silent – dadmarketing is here to call out advertising excluders like Earth’s Best and ask it to change.

Dads count too, and if Earth’s Best wants dads to buy its products, it should market them accordingly.

How to show favoritism, and then pass the buck without anyone realizing what you did

Did someone in your life ever play favorites?americanbabymag

It could have been your teacher, your uncle, or your parent. No matter who does it, it’s no fun, and it’s wrong.

American Baby magazine is guilty of that, and more, in its latest ad promotion. Once again, we fine a parent-type magazine believing the word mom is a synonym for parent, and ignores dads unequivocally.

We have no issue with a mom-only ad, although, it would be nice to see an accompanying dad-focused ad for once. But we do take exception to the “moms know best” headline.

That’s one serious slap in the face to dads, and frankly, it’s hard to believe its editors let this one slip.

Ahhh, but there’s a catch – American Baby magazine doesn’t really say it.

Rather, it gets away with a fast one by shifting blame when it exclaims, “They say moms know best.”

It’s like American Baby is expressing, “Hey, it’s not us, it’s others. We’re just telling you what we’ve heard others say.”

Yeah, well, those people out there, they say lots of things:

  • A woman’s place is in the kitchen.
  • Girls can’t play sports.
  • Women can’t drive.
  • Females should be seen and not heard.
  • That woman needs to man up.

We all know these sayings are wrong, and so is saying that moms know best; doing so makes dads feel like assistants, like they’re second best. Parenting isn’t about one gender knowing better than the other, or about one person having more control.

This has to stop!

Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler are both quoted as saying, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.”

Well put.  And fatherism is the radical notion that dads are parents.

Do dads want the best?

When Pizza Hut makes a significant menu change, the national media covers it. When the pizzeria in your hometown does something similar, the local paper doesn’t even notice.walmart

If a New York City radio DJ says something shocking, it makes headlines. Someone could say the same at a tiny Midwestern radio station and it won’t be noted as much.

The Washington Redskins have their whole name controversy, but high schools with identical nicknames fly under the radar.

Bigger certainly isn’t always better, but it is unquestionably more noticeable. It’s also open to more scrutiny, because we expect a little more.

And so it goes with Walmart.

The nation’s largest retailer had a two-page spread in the October 2014 American Baby magazine and proclaims, “Parenthood is full of firsts.” But on the very next page, the ad says this: “When it comes to caring for their baby, moms want only the best.”

Can’t dads care for babies? Don’t dads also want only the best?

Walmart’s website (featured) mimics the same attitude as the magazine ad, which isn’t really a surprise.

Walmart takes a lot of flak for its policies and business practices, treatment of suppliers, employee compensation and working conditions. We’re not ones to comment on those matters – maybe they’re true, maybe they’re not.

However, there’s no mistaking to whom Walmart is speaking in its latest ad. It’s a shame that Walmart doesn’t find enough value in dad as a potential customer, or even as a nurturing parent.

Had the local, independent drug store done this, I wouldn’t even have spotted it. But at Walmart, I expect more.

Hey, isn’t that the slogan of another retailer where dads could take their business?

Hmmm.

Cake loss

Trying to rid the world of dad exclusion regarding anything kitchen related is like asking a Kardashian to stay away from a camera lens.

It’s a challenge, but dadmarketing came into being just for this.

(The dad stuff, not the Kardashians.)bettycrocker2bettycrocker1

Our latest offender is Betty Crocker, which should not come as all that surprising. But what is surprising is how Betty Crocker did it, and so very unnecessarily.

A quick look at the ad reveals nothing glaringly wrong. There aren’t any Kix-like, dad-excluding slogans plastered front-and-center. There aren’t any “Attention Mom” banners adorned at the top. The word “mom” really isn’t anywhere noticeable.

For a few brief moments we were actually overjoyed about the possibility of a column lauding Betty Crocker for not pushing the “baking is only for moms” agenda.

But then we read the fine print.

If you took the time to dig all the way through this copy-heavy, two-page spread from the September 2014 American Baby magazine, you’ll find that it’s really not directed at dads whatsoever, because Betty Crocker assures that after a day of baking, “you will look like Wondermom!”

How’s that for a red-spooned slap in the face, dads?

You see, venerable Betty Crocker, you may be surprised to know that some dads like to bake for their families. Dad doesn’t come home from work with mom waiting there and hot food on the table like it happened a few generations ago. What’s more, boys like to bake too, and you could learn a lot from Hasbro, makers of the Easy Bake Oven, who developed a boy-friendly version of their classic toy after one young girl simply spoke up.

Betty Crocker has been around for almost 100 years, and has been moderately progressive in modernizing their female likeness over time. But their treatment of dads in today’s modern world where fathers clearly do more than past generations makes them look stuck in the past.

No one should know better than Betty Crocker how the tiniest ingredient can alter an entire recipe. That’s exactly what happened in BC’s latest ad blunder.

We’ll be surprised if we ever hear from Betty Crocker, seeing how they’re operated by General Mills, makers of two of the most dad unfriendly brands around: Cheerios and Kix. We’ve tweeted them before, and they’ve ignored us like a stale cookie crumb.

Still, we’ll keep trying, because a small change in marketing approach would require “no superpowers needed,” and then we can all celebrate together with a Betty Crocker dessert.

Until then, we’ll just keep using another brand actually created by a man who knew a thing or two about cakes.