Welcome to the ‘hood

similac9Overly drenched in heaping layers of crippling irony is the headline from Similac’s latest display ad (right) which preaches, “There’s no ‘one-formula-fits-all’ for babies, or for parenting, either.”

Calling this marketing-speak odd would be an injustice to the word odd, instantly giving it a meaning never originally intended. It might just make something we all currently agree upon as odd, say, Miley Cyrus’ antics, seem almost girl-next-door normal.

Thus, we here at dadmarketing can’t call this latest advertisement odd. Rather, Similac’s ad proclamation is off-the-charts anomalous.

Here’s why: Similac, by way of its marketing message, slogan and ad copy (below), is saying that only moms are parents, yet its headline (above) tries to tell us something otherwise.

Again, did you notice the slogan from which it can’t seem to let go? “Welcome to the Sisterhood of Motherhood”? There’s nary a dad in the universe who can relate to that, and we’re talking about a product called baby formula, not breastfeeding, nor a feminine item. Dads should be every formula makers’ dream, a sure-fire built-in customer for life, but Similac doesn’t seem to want it that way.

Abbott, makers of Similac, has been touting this exclusionary “Sisterhood/Motherhood” slogan for several months now, and by it saying “there’s no one-parenting-fits all,” it sure seems to want it both ways: mild use of the word “parent” hidden behind its unilateral, sexist slogan.

Besides, check out the exhortation at the end of the ad: why would dads even bother taking Similac up on its invitation to visit Facebook?similac10

Dads aren’t moms!

It’s time to give this old-fashioned slogan a rest, and for Similac to consider that dads just might be part of its customer base, too. It’s no fun for dads to get ignored month after month. It’s campaign preaches a non-judgmental approach, but it has judged dads loud and clear:  they don’t count.

When it comes to taking care of babies, it’s not just a motherhood. It’s also a fatherhood.

And above all, it’s called parenthood.

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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.

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.’

I don’t wanna taco about it

Now we’re really confused. El Monterey, makers of authentic Mexican frozen foods, has a Twitter page that outright discriminates against dads, yet it was founded by a father and his son.elmonterey1

Don’t believe us? Check out twitter.com/elmonterey, which has a bio reading, “We’re a family owned company dedicated to helping mom conquer her day,” and also includes a #momwins campaign.

If the bio wasn’t exclusionary enough, the #momwins hashtag certainly creates a senseless rift. After all, if mom wins, then where does that leave dad?

We know, we know, its marketing department would tell us that dad wins, too, by way of the delicious food served, but that age-old corporate speak would be missing the point.

elmonterey2This sort of old-fashioned marketing is a tired approach that’s sure to make dad feel left out. If this company really believes the fallacy that dad doesn’t handle kitchen duty (which in turn implies that mom’s place is squarely in the kitchen — ouch), wouldn’t it be all the more reason to promote its easy-to-make, freezer-to-oven products directly to dads themselves?

elmonterey3Oddly, #momwins doesn’t appear on its website, but is used more regularly on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest — all of which could be correctly rather easily.

Many here at dadmarketing headquarters have purchased and enjoyed El Monterey products in the past, but that practice is coming to a sudden stop. Instead of #momwins, it’s now #everybodyelseloses. Isn’t that a calamitous case of marketing gone awry?

Let’s hope its marketing department can make a change for the better, as it reflects on its “family owned” slogan, knowing that dads count as part of the family, too.

ig·nore (ĭg-nôr′) – To refuse to pay attention to; disregard

A few days ago we were fortunate to have a nice conversation with Proctor & Gamble regarding an exclusionary p&gapproach.

The talk began when we noticed its Father’s Day plug, awkwardly matched with a Twitter handle which only thanks moms (right). Here’s how it went:

  • Thank you Mom:   It’s #ThrowBackThursday! We love pics with dad! #TBT #FathersDay
  • dadmarketing:       This is awkward.
  • Thank you Mom:   Not at all. We love dads too! #ThankYouDad
  • dadmarketing:       That’s great, but your Twitter handle doesn’t really say that…
  • Thank you Mom:   Did you see our profile? I hope you’ll join us on the 18th 8-9pm for our 2nd annual #DadsJourney Twitter party.
  • dadmarketing: ‏       Love it! But again, the Twitter name…
  • Thank you Mom:    Our ‘brand’ is #ThankYouMom. Just like yours only mentions dad 😉
  • dadmarketing:        We’re a site exploring how companies market to dads, not selling a product both parents can equally buy; it’s exclusionary mktg

We want to emphasize how P&G’s use of Twitter to communicate is so impressive, and it was a true pleasure to chit-chat with a friendly social media team. However, it’s more than disappointing how companies – major companies like P&G – still ignore dads when it comes to parenting.

Now let’s take a look at the ads featured here (click to enlarge), found on back-to-back pages of a parenting magazine this month. What’scbrjohnson&johnson3 the difference between them? One includes only an image of mom, which would be fine enough on its own, but then it reinforces the mom’s-the-lead-parent-when-it-comes-to-babies agenda with accompanying ad copy that reads, “He feels Mom’s gentle touch.”

The other ad shows both mom and dad, with text that reads, “Cord blood banking isn’t just for your newborn, it’s for your whole family.”

In short, one ad speaks only to mom as a parent, another speaks to both parents – and the former is lot like P&G’s Twitter site and Olympic campaign.

Let’s say you’re at a party with your spouse, where you’re meeting lots of new people. If one of these new acquaintances is only speaking to your spouse, and not involving you in the conversation whatsoever, how might that make you feel?

It’s going to make you feel like dads feel after seeing the Johnson & Johnson ad, which make them look for a different baby soap on the store shelf. Sadly for J&J, it has a history of negating dads as parents.

Well done, CBR. As for J&J, you have some work to do.

A quiz: what kind of magazine will it be?

whatkindofdad1Just when we think American Baby magazine is leaning toward doing something right by placing a dad on the cover of its June 2015 issue (no doubt a gratuitous Father’s Day nod), we turn inside to find an article trying to be humorous, and rather offends.

First of all, we know ABM is geared toward mothers, despite its name. The advertising and writing all fuel the bias that moms are the lead parent, and that dads don’t count. For a magazine to continue with a title name that truly suggests nothing otherwise (yes, both women and men have the ability to care for babies), this is wrong – but you have to remember this magazine’s mission as you proceed with this piece. After all, a quick flip through ABM’s pages indicate the heavily unbalanced photographic tally of 44 images of moms, compared to just 11 dads. It’s like this every month.

If language expresses intent, then what does that lopsided ratio suggest?

In case you still had some doubt in your mind, the article titled “What Kind of Dad Will He Be?” (available online here), should cement the fact that ABM disregards dads with nearly every step it takes. Again, we know the magazine and this particular story favors moms – of course, there’s a need for that in this world – but why not within this same issue or another one, have a similarly titled story written for dads asking “What Kind of Mom Will She Be?”

The flimsy bone that ABM offers dads on the cover is forcefully snatched away on page 3’s table of contents, after one quickly realizes that there’s not a single article in its so-called “Father’s Day issue” offering dads a way to better themselves as fathers, or why dads mean something to families, or how to plan for a fun Father’s Day, or even the social media loving “dad bod.”

We can even look past Sarah Schmelling’s humorous tone, which somehow finds a way to dig at men by using every possible sexist connotation imaginable. By comparison, do women really find it funny when men try to be comical and use the, “a woman’s place is in the kitchen” line?

Let’s forget all that for now, though, and look at two inconspicuous items of note:

  1. Check out the photo caption at the top of page 56 (pictured above). “He may not even need coaching to become your parenting team’s MVP!” Talk about incongruous writing – first AMB is acknowledging that dads are on the parenting team (and the possible MVP, no less!) – yet the rub is in the first six words:  “He may not even need coaching”?  That’s some seriously curious language, because mothers bear no more instinctive abilities to parent a child than fathers.  One can argue whether being a parent is an instinct or an acquired skill, but one parent doesn’t possess the skill more than the other simply by way of gender.  Although this website talks about a slightly different but related topic, here’s what one wise, hipster homemaker has to say about dads and babysitting.
  2. In the last section of the article under “MOSTLY C’S,” the author uses the phrase “Mr. Mom.”  Don’t get us started on the use of that term (because we already have), but in short, would anyone dare call a working mother “Mrs. Dad”?

It’s hard to give the author kudos for the wonderful, cute ending, “Few things are more fun for a child…” when the previous sentence exhausts the last of several tired, unflattering stereotypes, suggesting that every dad must live “The Hangover” lifestyle every weekend.

C’mon dadmarketing, you might say, have a sense of humor.

It’s scarcely amusing when ABM pushes the dads-don’t-matter-to-us agenda every month, and it’s in a supposed Father’s Day issue. Imagine if, for example, there was a dad-related food story with a photo caption that offered, “She may not even need coaching to start cooking like your own mom!”

With stereotypes, there’s always someone who isn’t laughing.

Hopefully by the next time ABM releases next year’s Father’s Day issue, we’ll have a magazine that helps celebrate, appreciate and thank dads for all they do, rather than create an unnecessary divide on the parenting team.

Plum Organics shows why every parent should buy Plum Organics

Marketing is, in a way, a lot like baseball.plumorganics2

One good at-bat can erase a bad one, and in the world of marketing, companies get plenty of turns at the plate. Those at-bats can come in the form of television advertising, display ads, billboards, radio ads, promotions, Internet, social media, and on and on.

In our view from the dadmarketing dugout, we’d like to say “we’ve seen it all,” but we all know that’s not true.

For every mainstay like Jif Peanut Butter – who can’t seem to make any hitting adjustments despite facing different pitchers (customers) which it used to encounter decades ago – we find new players and new attitudes infusing the marketing game.

Those fresh approaches to the game are called game changers, and our latest marketing discovery (right) could be the best magazine advertisement of all-time, but at the risk of hyperbole, let’s at least declare it a solid walk-off homer for the ages.

Let us reintroduce you to Plum Organics, a company who competes in the Baby Division.

For most teams in this group, marketers commonly like to play defense, or at least conservatively at best, by only dialoguing with moms in its messaging. Rather than taking new, inventive approaches to the game, these teams recoil, shy away and almost shrink when it comes to the plausible notion that dads raise children in today’s world. Most of these teams would rather play the game the same way it has always been played, and stick to a formula that it believes is safe.

We wrote about Plum Organics back in January and it wasn’t all favorable. But today, after we encountered its latest magazine display ad, we found it has unveiled a renewed swing with an energetic approach that finally matches its overall fashionable style.plumorganics1

Concerning its website, plumorganics.com, you’ll note that we penned: “Based on its website, the company actually seems fairly admirable. We love its charitable efforts, admire its refreshingly generous use of dads in photos, and dig the story of how Neil Grimmer founded the company.”

In our general assessment of marketing to dads, we’re not looking for total dad inclusion to the point of mom exclusion – only equality in parenting to where no one is left out. Neither gender should be discriminated against. Both parents count.

Plum Organics’s latest ad, where a dad is prominently featured, pulls off a clear message that dads unequivocally are parents, too. Take note that another parent, presumably mom, is also featured in the background holding a child. But in this ad it’s dad who takes the spotlight, and it works. Wonderfully.

In fact, we love everything about this advertising masterpiece: its layout, its font selection, its soft feel, its simplicity, its captivating photo upon which nearly any dad can relate. We embrace it all.

The continuity continues on its website (it always has), as well as robust use of the ever-nifty, super-solid #ParentingUnfiltered hashtag. Why couldn’t Similac use such an inclusionary hashtag? Why can’t Amazon Mom consider a unified name? Why can’t Jif step up to the plate with a new attitude?

Here’s to the marketers of Plum Organics, whose sweet swing instantly put it among the very elite of Major League Marketing, ensuring optimum business operations where it counts, making it attractive to buyers of all shapes and sizes – and genders.