Why yes, dads do lunch

Getting food companies – especially, lunch food makers – to accept the realities of today’s modern parenting world has been an uphill climb for our team.

In those companies’ worlds, only the mom shops, cooks and prepares lunches. The dad remains out of the picture, or at best, only a token visual.danimals

Danimals yogurt snacks is the latest brand to exclude fathers from its marketing content, as seen on its website, and regularly in social media.

This act is a risky proposition, to be sure. The first implication is that it makes mom’s place to be in the kitchen. The second is that it implies dads don’t prepare meals or raise children. Either way, both parents look bad because it places an unfair gender bias built on norms from yesteryear.danimals2.jpg

As mentioned, we continue to find this in the lunch world. At the start of last school year, Oscar Mayer introduced a video spot heralding mom for her work in readying kids for school. Babybel has been known to exclude fathers. Juice box makers regularly ignore dads as equal parents. And Jif has its infamous time-worn, out-of-date slogan.

We all know that dads pack lunches, and we’ve even seen those cute stories where dads share noontime love through their talents.danimals3.png

It’s particularly disappointing to see the exclusion perpetuated on the Danimals social media pages, where dads are forgotten on a regular basis.

If Danimals doesn’t want to be forgotten by dads, we’re open to talking sometime. Want to do lunch?

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.

Start spreading the news

Ever since Dad Marketing was founded, we’ve always preached that it’s both the mom and dad who are expecting, not just mom. newyorkbabyshow2.jpg

That might sound strange to some, not just because it’s women who physically carry children, but it’s also because of the way media and marketing shape our thoughts. They’ve conditioned us via advertising imagery and word choice that moms are primary parents:

“More Moms choose the Similac Brand.”
“Thank You Mom by P&G.”
“Moms around the world trust Johnson’s to safely care for their babies.
“See what Moms are saying about the Gerber Grow-Up Plan.”

These words are prominent messages in the public eye telling us that moms are the full-time parents, and dad is merely a part-time helper, at best.

newyorkbabyshow.pngAnd yet, every so often we encounter an organization who Gets It, who realizes that dads matter every bit to the parenting world as moms – and the idea speaks to dads, and markets to them, and listens to them. Suddenly, dads matter and are valued as true parents and customers.

We offer our highest Seal of Approval to the New York Baby Show, who fully acknowledges dads as equal parents. There they exclaim that “parents” are expecting, not just mom.

Keep up the good work New York Baby Show. People notice your inclusion, and someday, everyone will want to be a part of it.

Words matter: why ignoring dads in ads is baloney

Nearly every day, words spoken by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump make national headlines.  Of course, some quotes are more shocking than others, and yet the level of scrutiny is often over a few select words.

Why the fuss?

Because words matter.oscarmayer4.png

Oscar Mayer recently introduced an ad about sending young children to school for the first time.  At first glance, it’s touching.  It looks great.

Note we said looks, because if you re-watch the ad with the volume muted, most everything looks good.  It looks like a touching ad involving the entire family, even if dad plays a rather minor role.oscarmayer1.png

But cue back the volume and notice the complete omission of “dad” in speech, and that changes the ad’s marketing breadth entirely.  No longer is dad playing a token cameo at best, but rather, he’s been excluded from the message – a sad, recurring theme among lunch makers who only believe mom’s pack lunches.

Oscar Mayer’s eschewed use of the word dad is an unfortunate practice for a company with dads at its roots.oscarmayer3.jpg

After all, what does this ad say to the late Richard Trentlage, the man who created the venerable Oscar Mayer Wiener song, who died Sept. 21 at age 87?  As a dad, Trentlage used his living room as a recording studio and had his children sing audition tapes.

It’s part of a rich Oscar Mayer legacy, which was founded in 1883 (perhaps Mayer was a dad?).  But 1883 is a whopping 133 years ago.  It’s high time this prominent company gets back to the basics if it wants to be perceived as the leader in lunch meats for the next 133 years.

Even if its marketing research suggests a majority of women purchase its products, there’s no point in senselessly alienating the other part of its customer base, and being perceived as a company who places a greater value in one gender – thus creating a bias, and all over useless, old fashioned stereotypes.

Besides, we all know sexism is wrong.

Oscar Mayer may have a way with b-o-l-o-g-n-a, but it also has a regrettable way with excluding dads.  Let’s hope that practice comes to a quick end before the next school year rolls around, because dads do indeed get kids ready for school and pack lunches, too.

And they love their kids every bit as moms.

 

Here’s a case for combining Mother’s and Father’s Day into one holiday

family2Last month on Mother’s Day, we overheard a young dad offering well wishes to a fellow friend, an elderly mom.  The mom extended a kind “thanks” in return, and then shared with a smile:

“Mother’s Day, Father’s Day – they’re really the same thing.  We should just have one ‘Parents Day,’ because parents raise kids together these days.  Everyone has the same job.  We’re all celebrating today, and I hope you have a great day, too!”

That’s some seriously wise knowledge from a veteran mother.

This mom was probably born about a decade after women finally gained the right to vote, so she’s seen changing societal roles and struggles for equality – all while being raised during a time when women didn’t typically work outside the home.

If any person has a reason to be set in her ways or subscribe to old-fashioned thinking, it would be her.

Yet instead, she has it all figured out.  She gets it.  She knows parenting isn’t a one-sided affair where one gender takes the lead, the other serves as an assistant or part-time helper.  She knows dads are just as competent, instinctual, effective and equal as moms when it comes to parenting.

Why don’t companies and their marketing employees think the same?

Technically, there is a Parents’ Day in the United States, held on the fourth Sunday of July.  However, that holiday hardly has the traction of its individual counterparts.

The truth is, we need holidays to celebrate each parental unit.  Moms and dads are different, and they parent different – and we say celebrate that.

So, let’s keep things the way they are, but recognize that no holiday is more important than the other.  We all have a father and a mother, whether we know them or not.

They deserve a day to be honored individually.

And they’re equal parents in every way.

Is laundry only a mother’s job?

Laundry.  It comes in heaps and never stops, and this week we found a few items in need of a good washing.

First, let’s take a look at the latest Arm & Hammer ad, which offers something both endearing and cautionary about the way it positions its brand.armandhammer1

On one hand, A&H takes a clever, charming approach by using generational ties as laundry solutions.  We can certainly appreciate the appeal of doing things the way our parents did them.  Passing down advice from one generation to another offers a timeless sentiment that pulls at our emotions.  That aspect is nice.

But on the other hand, with piles of laundry comes great responsibility.

That laundry room in your home – yes, that one over there – must be handled with extreme caution.  It’s dangerous to assume that it’s mom’s domain. That would be inconsiderate, old-fashioned and passé, sort of like saying a mother’s place is in the kitchen.  Frankly, it would have been better had A&H had not even gone there and employed this motherly theme.

We acknowledge that sometimes an idea can be too good to pass up, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t.  Look at the incongruity the New York Times offers in name with its Motherlode section – a section which supposedly covers the issues of parenting.

So, by A&H using mom as the focal point, we’re all led down a path to believe that laundry is the mother’s duty.  That creates perceptions that aren’t necessarily true, especially in today’s modern, dual-income, gender-lines-have-been-blurred, and everybody-takes-on-different-roles world.

ariel1Which brings us to the peculiar ad unveiled by Indian detergent maker Ariel.  In it, Ariel offers an apology to moms everywhere, on behalf of dads, for guys not helping with the laundry.

Admittedly, we’re somewhat ill-equipped to analyze this ad, as we have no awareness of Indian culture.  However, for the purposes of this column, we’ll probe within an American context.

The Ariel ad is admirable for encouraging everyone to help around the house, but sadly, it’s at the expense of dads.

Once again, dads are made out to be the bad guy – the lazy spouse – and coerced into apologizing unnecessarily.  Let’s put this ad in perspective:  you have to remember that in days past, when the dad traditionally went to a job all day and was the sole breadwinner, it was the mom’s duty to run the household – and there’s nothing wrong with that scenario even today.  Both roles contribute to a family and household, even if they’re held by opposite parties nowadays.  No job is more important than the other.

The older father in the ad shouldn’t have had to apologize for anything, unless he wasn’t carrying his load and doing his part in life.  The younger father in the background, clearly isn’t – at least for the brief period shown in this elongated ad.

A&H curiously has an ad of its own, and not once is a male of any age shown.  Perhaps these laundry detergent makers could have compared notes, rather than send conflicting messages that only leave dad caught in the middle of two contradictory campaigns:  one that puts dad at fault, another that says it was never dad’s job in the first place.

So when the A&H ads are stacked up next to Ariel’s apologist campaign, it’s more than a little disconcerting to see the commercial’s closing question:  “why is laundry only a mother’s job?”

I think we all know the answer to that question:  it’s not.

But, maybe, just maybe, that question is better posed directly to A&H.

Tell us, A&H, why is laundry only a mother’s job?

If we’re in this together, you’ll have to unblock our Twitter account

Gerber has an unfortunate history of excluding dads in its direct mail pieces, on its website, and in its My program.  But things could be improving – that looks like a man’s hand feeding the baby on its website.

And a recent magazine actually acknowledges that the featured baby is a “him,” a possible future dad that will eventually be disregarded by the very company using his likeness to sell its products.

It’s another piece of a portfolio that’s confusing and erratic.

gerber4

Just look at the front page of Gerber’s website as it stands today.  If you’re a dad and reading the left side of the page, it exclaims, “We’re in this together.”  But glance to the right and you find a site that indicates it’s only “For mom.”

(sigh)

However, to top it off – at least for our staff – Gerber has blocked us from following its company on Twitter.

Now, Twitter blocking certainly has its place in life, but to prevent one entity from communicating with another?  Why?

The words close-minded and censorship come to mind.

Hey Gerber, we’re only trying to help.  Factual proof created by your very own marketing team indicates you have a practice of excluding dads, and that’s wrong.

Dads buy your products.  Dads care for children.  Dads count too.

We’d love to chat, but it’s kind of hard to do that right now.  Drop us a note.

Just some food for thought.