Is that dad? In a breastfeeding ad? It’s no fad

Although the basic concept of breastfeeding will never change – yes, it’s still exclusive to women – Medela feels the industry is ripe for reinvention. medela1

As one of the global leaders in breastfeeding technology, Medela recently strengthened its industry mettle by spending the past 10 months doing something many firms thoughtlessly overlook:  communicating with customers.

However, Medela didn’t simply monitor various social media sites – it actually conversed, interacted and listened.

The result was a wildly successful “Through It All” campaign that revealed something else companies also fail to notice:  dads matter, even when it comes to breastfeeding.

“We really wanted to make sure our fathers were a part of this,” said Kim Aasen, director of marketing. “Even though (dads) can’t physically breastfeed, (they’re) an important part of that conversion. They’re important to the breastfeeding circle.”

An idea is born

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Kim Aasen, Medela

 

Last September, Medela started asking moms on its Facebook community one straightfoward question:  when it comes to breastfeeding, what would you share with another new mom? Aasen said the response was overwhelming, as many talked of a network, or community of breastfeeding support that might include a spouse, grandma, or friend.

After those key months of taking valuable customer inventory, Medela revealed its marketing idea complete with a print campaign and series of videos which tell the story of real people and their breastfeeding journey.

“We made sure we featured those people along the way, and you can see those people featured in the (print) ad,” Aasen said, who also noted that Medela overwhelmingly heard from moms who insist dads play an integral role in breastfeeding success. “We listened to make sure we are reflecting who our Medela communities are. (Fathers) are caregivers and part of the breastfeeding experience, so we want to make sure that everyone is represented.”

Let reality dictate strategy

Although society encapsulates the topic via the word breastfeeding, that equally applies to one who is breastpumping – which, of course, allows other people to feed the child.

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Behind-the-scenes at a “Through It All” campaign video shoot. Copyright Medela 2016.

 

“We want to make sure that we don’t think there is one right way to do it,” Aasen said. “We want to make sure moms and dads and families – whatever that family looks like – that there is no one perfect way to do it.”

Medela also let the customer feedback drive the campaign. It wasn’t intent on following societal norms, advertising history, stereotypes, or even demographic models – it simply felt its campaign should reflect reality.

“By listening to our community’s focus groups, dads are a part of the picture,” Aasen said. “For us, we feel like it’s reflecting reality. We’re just sharing their words back. The pictures you see online shows everyday life.”

Dads count too

As for the future, Aasen said its current campaign is squarely in phase one, which was “different than anything Medela had ever done.” Plans moving forward will continue to include a reflection of what real, modern families look like and how they make breastfeeding work for them.

On the flip side of breastfeeding is formula feeding, where some of its makers exclude fathers from its messaging.

Aasen believes companies who don’t include dads in ads should take heed:  (Those) companies are missing out. It’s not cookie cutter; (families) comes in all shapes and sizes, as do responsibilities.”

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Video crews record footage for Medela’s “Through It All” campaign.  Copyright Medela 2016.

 

 

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How to sell breastfeeding to both moms and dads

medela1Whatever Medela is paying the people who handle its marketing and communications – it’s not enough.

Just take a look at this marvelous ad, which includes families of all shapes and sizes, plus ad copy that doesn’t exclude any one member of the family.  And while you gaze, bear in mind what this company is all about:  it’s a staunch supporter of breastfeeding, and nothing else.  Read what its company founder calls its “Breastfeeding Support Pledge”:

“We pledge our dedication to breastfeeding as the best nutrition for babies and families.  We further pledge that our breastfeeding accessory products and literature shall never be used to influence mothers to switch from breastfeeding to infant formula feeding.  Nor shall our breastfeeding accessory products and literature be used in any way to promote artificial baby milk.” – Olle Larsson, Founder of Medela.

medela2So if there was ever a company that could be excused for playing the dad omission card (not that it’s ever right), Medela would be it.  But they don’t stoop to that inappropriate level – they include dads on its website, in print, and employ complete, inclusionary words like “family,” “parents” and “parenthood” on a consistent basis.

The converse of this wonderment, of course, is Similac – a company which sells formula, which is arguably, intrinsically built-in for dual-parent use.  Yet, Similac takes every opportunity to exclude dads from its messaging.

For further irony, check out comparable ad copy from each ad:

  • Medela:  “…breastfeeding looks different for each family.”
  • Similac:  “There’s no ‘one-formula-fits-all’ for babies, or for parenting, either.” 

While these lines are similar in nature, one walks the talk – the other just talks, because the latter isn’t backed by consistent communication through photography, social media or website use.

Medela deserves Dad Marketing’s highest Seal of Approval for demonstrating that breastfeeding involves both parents, and for not propagating the unfair perception that parenting should be directed by one gender.

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.

Is that a dad in a breastfeeding ad?

lansinoh1Check out this stellar ad from Lansinoh, makers of breastfeeding products and accessories. It features words like “breastfed” and “nipple” and “breast,” yet boldly places at dad at the center of its full page magazine ad.

That’s powerful. That’s wonderful. That’s making dads feel like involved parents!

But then, the company does a strange about face on its website – lansinoh.com – where it decides to bury dad’s importance down below on its home page. If it truly believes that dad is “critical to (the baby’s nursing) success,” as its website states, then why is dad minimized so greatly online?

How about a Lansinoh Dads’ Club?

Why not publish an article titled, “8 Benefits to Dads for Breastfeeding Moms”?

How about more photos of dads on its website (they’re hard to find) – and prominently feature them – like the dad in the magazine ad?

How about have a special dads-only section, which might dig deeper into a dad’s involvement with breastfeeding? Or have a different guest dad blogger featured every so often?

How about simply show the word “dad” more?

The magazine ad was so incredibly fantastic because it proved it can utilize fathers in an advertisement about breastfeeding products, and we were ready to give Lansinoh the highest dadmarketing Seal of Approval™, but then Lansinoh changed its tune online.

Oh. So. Close.

Let’s hope Lansinoh’s marketing professionals can get on the same page and mimic a magazine ad that’s beyond sensational, and thus lead the market among those companies insisting upon total parental inclusion.