Consistently inconsistent

If every baby company could produce an ad as good as this one from SwaddleMe, think how the parental community would be that much more unified as one.swaddleme.jpg

Here we have both a mom and a dad featured not once, but twice. And it utilizes words like love, hold and swaddle prominently — accurate terms (unfortunately) not often associated with fathers. The multiple use of mom and dad imagery means this is one of the rare instances we’ve seen where an equal numbers of dads featured with moms.

However, SwaddleMe’s keen eye on parental equality seems to end with its print ad. Once you take a visit to its website, you’ll find a site that portrays a different approach:

  • Its About Us page declares its real intent: “At Summer Infant, we strive to delight moms and babies, and walk beside you in your parenting journey…”  It should be noted that this goal seems rather conflicted when considering that the company was founded by a devoted dad.
  • It offers a Mommies Melodies Lamb, which hardly appears to be anything exclusive or reserved solely for moms.
  • Regularly utilizes phrases likeswaddleme2.jpg, “Other products moms love” and “What moms love.”
  • Even its product testing page assumes that everyone visiting its site is a mom! (right)

It won’t take much to achieve greatness, SwaddleMe. Here’s hoping you can match your website with an outstanding print ad. We’ll be cheering for you.

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Marketing to baby must involve dad

hylands1Hyland’s has been making safe and natural homeopathic medicines since 1903, and after a quick look at its latest magazine ad, seems to be rather dad-friendly.  It’s nice to see a dad featured prominently in its ad.

But take a close look and read the copy.  Why doesn’t it speak to dads?

Now glimpse at hylands.com and click on “Calming Tablets,” and you’ll find a similar mom-only reference.

Those are some disappointing dad omissions for an otherwise decent overall marketing approach.  Generally, Hyland’s seems to try to use “parent” references, so these nuggets caught us a little off-guard.

hylands3Hyland’s talks about party invitations here, a symbolic reminder that dads want to be invited to the “party,” too.  They take care of babies and have plenty of choices when it comes to baby care products.  So why should Hyland’s give them a reason to go anywhere else?

Parenting isn’t a mom-only thing, and mom isn’t the lead parent, regardless of what any particular family’s situation may be.  It is the responsibility of both parents to raise a child, and that equality has never been more prevalent than it is today.

The Hyland’s example is an exhortation for any company looking to increase sales:  don’t forget your customers, and they won’t forget you.

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.

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.

I don’t cheer for Cheerios

The phrase “to those whom much has been given, more is required,” is best known for its origin in the Bible.

I think it applies to cereal, too — specifically, Cheerios — and we’ll get to that connection in a minute.cheeriosfrown

But let’s think about Cheerios first.  It’s one of the strongest brands around.  Its no-nonsense black serif font on the plain yellow box is iconic.  The circular shape is basic, pure and often imitated.  Its ingredients include whole grain oats and just one gram of sugar.  Nearly every off- and store-brand has made a knock-off version and given it a similar name.  The taste is simple and unchanged virtually since the beginning, unless you count the explosion of its flavored offspring, such as Reduced-Fat-Yogurt-Berry-Blast-Cinnamon-Coated-Sprinkle Cheerios (seriously, do we need this much variety?).

I would argue that Cheerios has been in every American home at least one point in time since its inception, and I doubt many brand names can proclaim that.  We eat it.  We make snack mixes with it.  We feed it to babies.  We feed it to birds.  We make crafts with it.  We give it to kids in church to keep them quiet.  We string it on Christmas trees.  We love it.  We trust it.  Its wholesome.  It sticks on noses (try doing that with Kix).  It’s certified by the American Heart Association!  It’s genius!Image

It’s just plain…perfect!

Or is it?

Their marketing folks nearly had me at hello, but as I went further into their website, discovered that it’s Mom’s Choice.  And that’s when I started thinking about the phrase, “to those whom much has been given, more is required.”

You see, we’ve made Cheerios a part of our lives and trusted it for years, and I always thought it was a decently mutual relationship:  General Mills kept making it, we kept eating it and everyone was happy.  But then they started saying that it’s the cereal which mom’s choose, and dads instantly became alienated and left out.  More should be required of one of the top cereals around.  They’re supposed to be an example for everyone else.  Do you ever see the NFL say, “It’s the sports league more dads watch with their boys than any other”?

Cheerios, I thought you were better than this.  We’ve all given you so much, and more should be required.

I have the last box I’ll ever buy in my cupboard, and I’m not even going to eat it.

But the birds will.