Beware of the unconscious bias

To see food products like Jif and Kix hold on to their timeworn, stereotypical catchphrases — all of it has reached a state of comicality. It certainly suggests absurdity and irrationality. We’re talking about peanut butter and cereal. Those products are specific to moms?

But then there are those items related to babies, and less people seem to notice the exclusionary practices tied to its marketing. Boppies were never invented solely for mothers, but they’re regularly positioned to exclude dads from messaging and thus, demote dads to secondary parental status. Similac offers baby formula – a surefire product for dads if there ever was one – yet its makers go out of their way to reject dads in messaging.

drbrowns4All of this is detrimental to families, of course, because it impedes the family from flourishing as it should without recognizing fathers as equal, competent parents.
Dr. Brown’s can now be grouped with the Boppy and Similac. They’re all products that owe us a little more, that need to try a little harder, that have a responsibility to go out of their way to ensure that dads don’t feel left out. They’re products that should regularly feature dads and speak to them in all that they do.

Go ahead and try to find a single image of a dad on the Dr. Brown’s site. Is there even one? That’s hardly representative of today’s modern families, or even families of yesteryear.

The current actions of companies like Dr. Brown’s, Boppy and Similac would be a little like Lowe’s only using men in its ads and scripting slogans and ad copy that only speaks to that one gender. And imagine the uproar if they did! Rather, they know that home improvement is hardly a gender-specific thing, even though common stereotypes indicate that power tools and outdoor work is supposedly for men.

But instead, Dr. Brown’s takes the old-fashioned route and tells us that dads don’t take drbrowns2.jpgcare of babies, or can’t bottle feed, or don’t want to. It’s all very troubling for a company that prides itself on innovation and support. And check out the disconcerting use of moms as a synonym for parent. Sorry Dr. Brown’s, but not all parents are moms, and thus, those terms can’t be succinctly substituted without leaving someone out.

Also take note of its Ambassadors program. Not only does it exclude fathers, it behaves as if they don’t exist.drbrowns5

Dr. Brown’s Twitter bio promises that its focus is “to create innovative feeding products to promote good health and optimal nutrition for baby.” If that’s true, then it’s time to make several revisions to its website and social media.

Dads want to deliver those things, too, and if someone tells him he can’t, he’s going to look elsewhere for someone who believes in him.

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Can’t dad use a Boppy?

Last month we came across a thought-provoking post titled “Needlessly gendered products for men.” There’s actually several articles on this topic, so consider reading at least one of them via your friendly neighborhood browser.boppy9

Anyway, that post made us consider the many needlessly gendered slogans which exist, phrases which promote products unnecessarily aimed at one gender:

Jif Peanut Butter – to its credit – is slowly releasing the stranglehold it has on its timeworn phrase, but it’s still hard to believe the CEOs of these companies continue to cling on to these old-fashioned, sexist slogans, allowing their marketers to intentionally discount the viability of at least half of its customer base, particularly with products that have nothing to do with gender.

Alas, peanut butter is no more a feminine product than watching football is intended solely for men.

boppydadBut then you have some products which seem to bemuse our perception, products which have been marketed for so long, positioned in such a convincing way and aimed at a certain audience that we’ve come to believe its use was envisioned strictly for one gender.

That’s certainly the case with the Boppy, which for 26 years has made us believe it is a breastfeeding pillow.  For starters, go ahead and visit boppy.com and notice your browser, which reads “nursing pillow.”

Its website is loaded with mom-only references, and yet you may be surprised to know the product was never intended for nursing.

According to this story, inventor Susan Brown came up with the idea in 1989 when, her daughter’s day care center requested parents to bring in pillows to prop up infants. Brown’s idea for a horseshoe-shaped pillow soon came about, but Brown never invented it for the sole purpose of breastfeeding:

“Now it’s almost embarrassing to admit, but when people started using it for breast-feeding, I was like, ‘Oh, yeah.  Of course,’” she said.

boppy11A brief reflection upon its own history and founding – and a glance at its own latest ad – may encourage Boppy to return to its roots.  Check out the bottom of this ad, where Boppy describes four of its product’s core uses, none of which have to do exclusively with moms (while physical breastfeeding does, general feeding – the word used in the ad – doesn’t).

If a Boppy can do all these things, why exclude dads from its marketing and ignore dads’ contributions to parenting?

Yet it specifically proclaims the Boppy to be mom’s domain.  It’s another unfortunate exclusionary tale which makes us wonder at least four times over:  why not use the word “parent” instead of “mom”?  Replacing that word would no longer alienate dads, it wouldn’t make moms turn the page in revolt, and Boppy would position itself as a true baby product for both parents.boppy12

It’s a little ironic that Boppy references “boy bands” is its clever headline.  Several members of those ‘90s bands are now dads, and rumor has it that some of them even use a Boppy.

What do you say Boppy?  Twenty-six years is a long time, but it’s time to start recognizing both genders as equal parents.

Marketers could learn a lot from the NFL

Statistics and ratings indicate that more men attend, watch and follow the NFL in greater numbers than women.  Take a casual look at fantasy football leagues, and those numbers widen even more.nfl

So if it were the case, you could forgive the NFL for targeting males in its advertising.  But being the wise, billion-dollar enterprise it is, you’ll hardly find its 32 teams (total worth: $63 billion) spending its marketing dollar only where the big money is located.

Rather, it places a strong emphasis on women, and wouldn’t dare make the catastrophic mistake of alienating an important part of its fan base.

So, no, the NFL won’t be unveiling new marketing slogans this season which focus on one gender, such as:

  • Choosy dads choose the NFL (Jif)
  • Kid tested, father approved (Kix)
  • Support for all dadkind (Boppy)
  • Welcome to the brotherhood of fatherhood (Similac)
  • #DadsKnow (Juicy Juice)
  • #DadWins (El Monterey)
  • Created by a dad for dads (Jesben)
  • For dad. For kids. From the beginning. (MyGerber)
  • Good for dads. Awesome for kids. (Capri Sun)

(You might note that none of these items referenced are feminine products.)

The NFL knows how to be popular and prosperous, so currently you see a successful, inclusive slogan like, “Football is Family.”

good2growAll of this makes the communication from good2grow so unusual, who claims to be “a family owned and operated company” with “one simple goal—creating wholesome, nutritious drinks in irresistible packaging kids love.”good2grow2

The juxtaposition is unusual, because families include dads, and in general, kids love their dads.  So if good2grow wants to create a product kids love, it should consider the other half of its customer base, which also includes boys, many of whom will eventually become dads.  Right now, it’s not speaking to dads in print, or on its website.

What do you say, good2grow?  Can dads be a part of your team?

After 26 years, Boppy may know how to hold a newborn, but it doesn’t concede that dads can, too

boppy4Boppy’s marketing remains ever dad-unfriendly, and its latest display ad dishes some jarring irony.

Note the headline: “After 26 years, we know how to hold a newborn.”

Well, after 26 years, it should also know that dads exist – and shop, and make purchases, and care for babies, and use Boppies. Yes, dads use Boppies!

But the company won’t acknowledge that.

If it did, it might start to recognize dads and adopt a new slogan instead of “Support for All Momkind.” It’s rare to find a business like Nike that boppy5can stick with one motto and make it work for a lifetime. In today’s world of marketing, it’s smart business to unveil a different saying in order to introduce a fresh campaign, kickstart a product, or inject new life into the old.

It would be easy enough to swap out momkind for something like parentkind, or babykind, or childkind, but that wouldn’t really solve the other part of its problem. Maybe the play on “mankind” was too easy fare for Boppy, but isn’t that term – mankind – so antiquated and completely out of use that no one would dare to use it nowadays? Have you ever heard of “mankind” spoken anywhere? No one would even touch it.

So why make reference to it?

Unfortunately, Boppy appears to be stubborn in employing the same tired, worn out mentality of, say, Jif, by implying that parenting hasn’t changed, likely afraid to admit that fathers have never been more actively engaged in raising babies.

There are plenty of companies who have changed with the times. It’s necessary for business survival.

We wrote about Boppy back on Oct. 10, 2014, and they squarely ignored our commentary, refusing to even dialogue boppy6despite repeated attempts on Twitter. And since then, its website — www.boppy.com — hasn’t changed much, and continues to perpetuate the belief that only moms care for children.  Could adding a “Dad Center” be such a bad thing, or is Boppy really afraid it will turn off moms, or send an improper message, or it’s bad for sales?

At least that slogan is rather small in the ad, but it’s there, reminding dads that they don’t matter to Boppy as customers.  Even that word “support” means the company is eager to dish it to moms, but not to dads.  Yes, the word support is likely in reference to breastfeeding, but as the company exclaims everywhere, a Boppy has far more uses that that.

Twenty-six years is a fine accomplishment for Boppy, but unless it can adapt with a changing world, it’s plausible that today’s new customers will go elsewhere for baby pillows – or do without.

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.’

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.

Pillow talk

If you’ve never heard of a Boppy, it’s a unique product that was originally created as a baby support pillow, but also can be used to prop a baby during feedings.boppy

The concept is wonderful, and during its brief history has enjoyed a great deal of national publicity through TV shows, magazines and celebrity plugs.

The company appears knows a thing or two about creating a good product that works, but when it comes to marketing, they’re one of the worst offenders we’ve seen when it comes to some serious, major league dad omission.

In the Boppy’s world, dads are not present, plain and simple. Mothers should be greatly offended by this extreme, unwarranted dad exclusion, for it’s their husbands whom Boppy is shunning. Let’s take a look at how they reached this woeful state.

Slogan

Support for all Momkind? We could see a motto like this making the grade, even being somewhat acceptable, at least two or more generations ago. Take Jif and Kix – it’s not like their slogans are proper or right or appropriate, because they remain 100 percent offensive and outdated. But even though they’re both like the Washington Redskins (refusing to change out of stubbornness) at least those old school slogans were born during an era when saying those things might have been customary once upon a time (like using a name such as Redskins).

The Boppy was invented in 1989! How can a company actually make this an official slogan in this modern era, let alone copyright it, all against better judgment in a world that demands equality? Boppy manages to downgrade fatherhood with a simple four word slogan, if not completely banish it, from their one-sided marketing mission. That’s one giant leap backward for all of humankind.

Mom Center

Here we have yet another website with a “moms-only” section. We get the fact that men and women are different as parents, but why exclude dads? Can’t dads feed babies with Boppies, too? Sure they can.

We’ve sent similar thoughts to other companies who respond with things like, “Yes, dads are our heroes too and we’ll take a look at it,” or “Check out this special dad section we created for Father’s Day.”

Why a special section? Why do something only once a year when the calendar tells you to think of dads in June? How about just calling it a “For Parents” section?

25th anniversary

Take a look at the “25 Years!” menu tab on the website, which doesn’t invite dads to the celebration in any way. There you’ll find a giant photo of mom with baby and the script, “We’re celebrating 25 YEARS of supporting mom & baby.”

As long as Boppy thrives on stereotypes, we’ll offer one as we pose this question: if dads are supposedly the providers and earned the money to buy the Boppy, can’t the company at least acknowledge this notion and offer a simple “thanks” for purchasing it in the first place?

Apparently not, because…

There are no dads anywhere

You can’t find even one dad photo anywhere at boppy.com, unless you consider the degrading drawing of ignorant Abe Lincoln putting the Boppy on his head like some clueless dad. And no, we don’t count the guy in the Martha Stewart photo or the two male employees – who knows if they’re dads? We’d like to see an even 50-50 ratio of dad stock photos with moms.

Aren’t dads equal parents, too?

Would Lowe’s or Home Depot ever dream of featuring all dads/men on their site accompanied by a sexist slogan like, “Support for all dadkind”? Of course not, there’d be a mom uprising, and rightly so. It wouldn’t be right.

So why does Boppy get away with it the other way around?

All the baby boys pictured on the site had better enjoy the attention while they can, because they’ll be ignored and forgotten the moment they become fathers by the very company who once featured them.

The numbers don’t lie

Boppy claims to be “beloved by over 15 million moms worldwide!” That’s an amazing statistic which should make Boppy very proud. But you know how many dads (who are potential customers) they’ve managed to ignore?

About 15 million.