Making the headlines

This headline appeared in the Gainesville (Ga.) Times last month, and I suspect it went largely unnoticed across the nation.headline

Except at dadmarketing.

With this newspaper article is a headline which places a sexist stereotype on mom, and one that must surely offend both mom and dad in the process.

Is a mom’s place is in the kitchen?

Is it such that dads can’t cook, or manage to pack a lunch?

Everyone knows that the headline is the text indicating the nature of the article. The newspaper could have been more responsible with its duty and used a clearer, less offensive term, or rewritten it entirely. Who packs the lunch has nothing to do with the story’s main topic (which, by the way, is a good one), that schools are serving healthier meals than ones students bring from home.

Instead, we get a headline rich in stereotype.

We contacted the Times’ Life Editor, J.K. Devine, who kindly offered the following response: “The headline stemmed from an original Associated Press suggestion. It was chosen to show that lunches made at home are no longer healthier than schools. And for the majority of homes, I would say mother’s make the lunches.”

The second sentence really answers the question as to why it was chosen, but why use the mom reference? The third sentence explains that, which is an assumption based on old-fashioned labels society has created over time; it may or may not be true.

A better headline choice might have been: “School serving meals healthier than packed ones.”

All of this reminds me of the oft-used “Mr. Mom” title. Others seem to think it’s fine to typecast a stay-at-home dad as “Mr. Mom.” But no one would dare call a breadwinning, working mom by the title “Mr. Dad.” So why is it still fine to say that only moms make lunches? It’s not.

Finally, let’s not let the Associated Press off the hook. Its “suggestion” is one that categorizes, labels and stereotypes. It’s wrong.

The media plays such a powerful role in shaping our minds and attitudes, and it should know better.

And I always thought it was the media’s job to report the news, not create it.

One year old

As far as we can tell, there’s not a single entity or individual on the Internet devoted to exploring and analyzing how businesses market their products and services to fathers.oneyearold

It wasn’t until we unveiled dadmarketing.com on December 14, 2013, that history was made.

Like with any new venture, there was some uncertainty about the amount of writing material, how readers might respond, and just what we might achieve.

There was never any question as to its need and relevancy. Dads remain left behind in so many facets of life, and most men don’t realize this until they become fathers themselves.

Consider the following:

  • Why are stay-at-home dads not taken seriously by media and society?
  • Why can’t marketers simply include dads in their messages and advertisements?
  • Why must old-fashioned, anti-dad slogans remain in a society that demands equality?
  • Does it really matter which gender predominantly shops for and feeds children?
  • If kids eventually grow up and leave the nest, at what point do dads become instantly capable of fending for themselves in a store, or in a kitchen?

Questions matter, and we’ll keep asking them. It’s part of our mission, our duty, and our purpose. So are all of your needs, and we plan to keep on listening to them, which help to keep us on target.

We’re smack in the middle of the holiday season, where dads and moms inevitably take part in various parties, some easier to stomach than others. But can you dads imagine attending a party where no one spoke to you the entire time?

Marketers do this all the time with word choices they make, and it’s more than disturbing.

One year is in the books, and as long as dads roam the earth, we figure we have many more to go. Thanks to all of you for your unwavering support, tireless goodwill and unmatched appreciation.

Our continued growth depends on feedback, so please keep it coming.

Here’s to the past year, and the years ahead!

You can lead a marketing department to a fruit flavored beverage, but you can’t make it drink

According to the Tum-E Yummies, “moms see goodness” and “kids see fun,” but you know what dadmarketing sees?tumeyummies

Complete senseless and meaningless dad exclusion.

The image pictured is a screen shot from the webpage of BYB Brands, a company that hasn’t quite figured itself out yet, nor its product. Or, perhaps it hasn’t really proofread its own work. In either case, it doesn’t excuse this stereotypical, stuck-in-the-past marketing disarray.

Take a look at their slogan: Create and sell brands people want!

How can this be? Their web copy doesn’t even back it up, for BYB isn’t marketing their brands to people – only mothers. Over and over on the BYB website, and at the Tum-E Yummies website, they merely address moms, not even giving dads the time of day.

There’s also a trite For Parents section, a true anomaly that could only be fashioned by a marketing department at odds with its own self. Here again, this predictable segment solely speaks to moms, a divide they created themselves by neglecting dads everywhere.

Part of their copy includes the oddities, “A mom-approved escape from the routine,” and “It’s not everyday you get to be a good mom and a fun mom,” and “Fun hydration moms and kids can agree on” – quirks by way of featuring boys on the site, future men that will be completely disregarded upon fatherhood by the very company whose drinks they enjoy.

That’s some business plan for future success, huh?

BYB apparently holds dear to the timeworn marketing impulse that moms still handle the kids, cook the meals, provide the snacks, and dads basically don’t shop.

Fortunately, poor execution (and websites) can be corrected easily.

Is BYB and Tum-E up to the task?

Cake loss

Trying to rid the world of dad exclusion regarding anything kitchen related is like asking a Kardashian to stay away from a camera lens.

It’s a challenge, but dadmarketing came into being just for this.

(The dad stuff, not the Kardashians.)bettycrocker2bettycrocker1

Our latest offender is Betty Crocker, which should not come as all that surprising. But what is surprising is how Betty Crocker did it, and so very unnecessarily.

A quick look at the ad reveals nothing glaringly wrong. There aren’t any Kix-like, dad-excluding slogans plastered front-and-center. There aren’t any “Attention Mom” banners adorned at the top. The word “mom” really isn’t anywhere noticeable.

For a few brief moments we were actually overjoyed about the possibility of a column lauding Betty Crocker for not pushing the “baking is only for moms” agenda.

But then we read the fine print.

If you took the time to dig all the way through this copy-heavy, two-page spread from the September 2014 American Baby magazine, you’ll find that it’s really not directed at dads whatsoever, because Betty Crocker assures that after a day of baking, “you will look like Wondermom!”

How’s that for a red-spooned slap in the face, dads?

You see, venerable Betty Crocker, you may be surprised to know that some dads like to bake for their families. Dad doesn’t come home from work with mom waiting there and hot food on the table like it happened a few generations ago. What’s more, boys like to bake too, and you could learn a lot from Hasbro, makers of the Easy Bake Oven, who developed a boy-friendly version of their classic toy after one young girl simply spoke up.

Betty Crocker has been around for almost 100 years, and has been moderately progressive in modernizing their female likeness over time. But their treatment of dads in today’s modern world where fathers clearly do more than past generations makes them look stuck in the past.

No one should know better than Betty Crocker how the tiniest ingredient can alter an entire recipe. That’s exactly what happened in BC’s latest ad blunder.

We’ll be surprised if we ever hear from Betty Crocker, seeing how they’re operated by General Mills, makers of two of the most dad unfriendly brands around: Cheerios and Kix. We’ve tweeted them before, and they’ve ignored us like a stale cookie crumb.

Still, we’ll keep trying, because a small change in marketing approach would require “no superpowers needed,” and then we can all celebrate together with a Betty Crocker dessert.

Until then, we’ll just keep using another brand actually created by a man who knew a thing or two about cakes.

Let’s fix it in a Jif-fy

Some say there isn’t any common sense in Washington, but dadmarketing would argue otherwise. The year was 1995 when the NBA’s Washington Bullets changed its nickname to the Wizards. Apparently then-team owner Abe Pollin decided the Bullets name carried violent overtones, especially in a city with a high homicide and crime rate. And apparently he was jifright.

One can certainly argue the eventual new name – how it hasn’t caught on, how it carries other negative undertoneshow it is a product of a fad at the times – but that would be missing the point. “Bullets” simply wasn’t appropriate anymore. It didn’t take the action of one owner to spur it along, because many realized it. The change was long overdue.

And then you have Jif Peanut Butter’s slogan: Choosy Moms Choose Jif.

It’s not just in Jif’s latest TV ad, it’s plastered all over their website, and it’s been a part of the brand for a long time.

I can hear people already (both moms and dads), because many of them spoke out when we discussed Kix’s outdated motto:

  • Chill out, it’s just a slogan.
  • Everyone has to be so “PC” nowadays.
  • Much ado about nothing.
  • There’s more important things to worry about.

We here at dadmarketing like to think of the Jif slogan as SWASFTSOI: Staying With A Slogan For The Sake Of It.

To explain further, imagine for a moment, that the United States government had a slogan before 1919 (like the Army’s “I Want You” slogan) which read, “Real men vote.” It might have been a decent slogan back in the day and worked well at the time, because after all, only men could vote then. However, let’s pretend they kept using that slogan to this very day, and we all saw it when we entered voting precincts. Of course, it would seem a tad outdated because we all know that women can vote, but wouldn’t it yet sting a little to both women and men? Wouldn’t it seem a little offensive? “Real men vote” wouldn’t take anything away from the fact that females could still walk in and exercise their right to vote, but it would just seem old, tired, antiquated – even silly and useless.

That’s all we’re saying about Jif. We get the fact it’s your long-standing company slogan/brand/wordmark, but it’s time to move on and find some other way to market your product (which tastes good, by the way). Change with the times. Jif is like the Washington Redskins of sandwich spreads: an entity that refuses to change out of stubbornness. Their attitude could also be filed under the dreaded, this is the way we’ve always done it.

And yes, Jif, we’ve noticed the latest add-on to your TV commercial which states audibly, though not in print, “Choosy moms and dads choose Jif!” This hardly solves the problem. In fact, it exacerbates it. It’s kind of like saying, “Gosh, I barely notice that huge wart on your nose.” It makes the slogan even more old-fashioned laughable, drawing attention to the fact that Jif has excluded dads for years, if not decades.

It’s the same way that your local high school has had the embarrassing nickname “Lady Bears” for all of its girls sports teams? Why not just “Bears” for both genders, or at least “Gentlemen Bears” for consistency? Ugh. Another topic, another time.

So Jif, let’s get down to business and fix it, the right way, once and for all. Show moms and dads that common sense is alive and well. Dads mean a lot to you, right?

Let’s hope so, because dads have a choice in what peanut butter to buy, and choosy dads choose ________________.

Spread the word on Sunbutter

Being a watchdog for the marketing/advertising world is a little bit like being a movie critic. We’re relentlessly trying to evaluate and analyze items we see, and it takes a lot for us to witness someone achieving perfection. We lean toward optimism, but after constant trying of teach an old dog new tricks, we sometimes find ourselves thrust into a position that seems cynical.

When writing about the businesses we see in print or on television, we encounter a quandary: the medium only has so much time and space to offer. We recognize the limitation, but also identify that much is expected and required of the company – the one who has invested sunbutterthousands or millions into its message and people.

A few days ago we came across a TV ad for Sunbutter, a product we use and love. We wrote about their dad exclusion, and Sunbutter immediately entered into a sincere discussion with dadmarketing. They recognized the fact they should be including dads in their slogan, and plan to incorporate them in future ads.

They “got it” right away.

We’re not here to proclaim validation. That is not our mission. Far more important, and the reason we write today, is that a company listened. We didn’t ask them to take our stance, just listen.

They didn’t appease us with a one-time corporate-speak email that they’ll “bring it to the attention of the marketing department.” They didn’t pacify us with promise of a special message-to-come only around Father’s Day. They didn’t set up a patronizing dads-only section of their website.

They simply listened. And we weren’t even expecting change, but that appears to be the direction they’re heading after some genuine, honest and open dialogue.

In short, we salute the people of Sunbutter for their exceptional ability to truly listen to their customers, because we’re one of them.

A good product – which they have – is only part of the equation. Good people is the other part of it. Having both is the sign of a great company with even better things to come.

If everybody else gets to write a list, we can too

Why bother?

ImageWhy would any company waste time marketing to dads?

Marketing to dads matters. Let us count the ways, and since lists seem to make the Internet go ‘round, here’s ours:

  1. It’s not about who uses the card, but about everything before the credit card is swiped – Anybody can put a Star Wars t-shirt in a shopping cart, but more went into that decision than you think.  What, or who, influenced it?  Maybe it’s dad’s love of the movie franchise that rubbed off on their kids.  Maybe it was a commercial the family saw while watching a hockey game together.  Maybe it is dad’s influence on a certain store the family frequents.  Maybe dad researched everything about the product online for the mom.  Maybe dad simply looks good in the shirt.  Any marketer can sit all day long in a store and prove that it was mom after mom who swiped that credit card in Target, but a wise researcher will investigate the whole story.
  2. No matter how small the slice is on the pie chart, it’s still a slice, and it still tastes like pie – I heard a weathercaster once say, “Even though there’s a 70% chance of rain today, remember that there’s a 30% chance it won’t.”  So, let’s say for example, that moms handle 70% of the purchasing.  Is a company really doing to ignore that potential 30% of dads who buy stuff?  Cereal makers do all the time, and if I was their CEO, I’d start looking for a new marketing team, and fast.
  3. Isn’t equality a goal? – When you alienate someone and make them feel left out, you’re bound to really turn them off.  What’s wrong with marketing to both mom and dad at the same time?  Nothing!  You’ll still have the mom in your good graces, and the dad will feel like he was included, too.  The good baby websites, I’ve found, are the ones that use the word “parent” and have photos of the newborn baby with both mom and dad.  Isn’t that a cool thing to see?
  4. Loyalty is king – If you become friends with someone at work or school, that’s nice.  If that friend invites you to their home, your friendship suddenly deepens, and you’ve formed a bond that makes you feel even more connected.  You’ve become loyal to them.  The same connection happens with retailers, and it means far more than customer satisfaction.  Dads are loyal people.  As author and speaker Jeffrey Gitomer once said, “Customer satisfaction is worthless.  Customer loyalty is priceless.”
  5. The Internet still is a game changer – Unless you’ve been living under a rock for say, the past 25 years, you’ve heard of the Internet.  It’s a marvelous tool used to gather information fast from all around the globe.  As far as I know, dads have used it to gather information, read and write reviews, and purchase things.  Lots of things.  Take the “zo” out of Amazon and you have “A man.”
  6. Look no further than sports – If you don’t follow sports, check out the power of the NFL, NASCAR, or any other sports league, and you’ll find it dominated by dads who have an allegiance to athletes and their games like no other.  It’s a gazillion dollar industry that continues to grow and expand with time.
  7. Dads eat and buy cereal – I think June Cleaver gets a bum rap.  Everyone likes to make her the poster child for old-fashioned, outdated behavior. Leave it to Beaver was a good show with wholesome characters, simply a product of its times.  Cereal is notorious for neglecting dads.  Kix is a product of its times too, but even a Beaver sequel in the ‘80s didn’t keep using the same formula – it updated for the times.  Read our December 17, 2013 entry if you want to learn more about Kix’s useless and archaic orange box.  It really isn’t the 1950s anymore, Kix, so hop on board the 2014 bus with the rest of us.  If I was Doc Brown and I had some plutonium, I’d so throw you into a DeLorean and send you “Back to the”…well, you know where.
  8. Credit card companies know better – Credit card companies know that their pocket-sized flat payment tools are used by dads, too.  That’s why they have dudes in their ads.  I’d even go as far to say that credit cards were inherently designed for dads:  they’re lightweight and flat since dads don’t like to carry things; they have cool pictures on them; they’re durable; they’re largely free to get (dads like free things); even acquiring one is easy to do.  Leave it to Jedi Master tough guy Mace Windu to set the record straight:  men do indeed use credit cards as he asks the question to which he already knows the answer, “What’s in your wallet?” Dads carry wallets.  Moms carry purses.  Closed, the case is.
  9. Dad, meet Internet; Internet, meet Dad – Dads and computers met a long time ago, and they realize how to use them.  Even if dads don’t always make the final purchase, they’re surely reading about the product beforehand.  They’re commenting on it.  They’re reviewing it.  And did you see that Amazon is starting an online grocery store?  Frankly, dads are probably purchasing things more and more off the Internet, because every good marketer claims knows that dads don’t like to shop in stores, right?  So, watch it marketers, because the slightest misstep and you’ll have more than one dadmarketing site broadcasting it to the world.
  10. Step up right here and behold, the spectacle! – The way dads get dissed everywhere, it seems like marketers make them out to be some kind of mythical creature that doesn’t exist.  In that vein, I have channeled my inner Dr. Seuss:

Dads move, dads think, they eat, they blink.

Dads stand, dads sit, they throw, they hit. 

Dads run, dads fly, they drive, they buy. 

Dads can do lots of things, you see. 

So don’t deny their authority.

Oh, no you didn’t!

The employees of dadmarketing love moms.  We think the world of moms.  We love our own moms.  We think being a mom is a noble calling.

So, it is no wonder, after reading one of the more influential and innovative mommy blogger sites around, we ask why the adoration can’t work both ways?

You’ve no doubt heard of renowned Norwegian mommy blogger Lirpa Sloof. In her latest entry at http://www.dadscantdoanythingright.com, she offers this stunning quote:

“Dads really have no purchasing power whatsoever.  Sure, I see them in stores, but it’s only because they’re handing the credit card to the mom, and then nodding approvingly at everything she buys,”  said Sloof.  “I would argue that dads don’creditcardt even know what that credit card does, nor do they know how to use it.”

Her eye-opening blog continues:  “It would make things much easier if dads couldn’t carry credit cards, and were banned from even entering stores.  It’s not like they do anything useful for their families, unless you count sitting on a couch and watching sports as useful.”

We know there aren’t many mommy bloggers out there, and it’s hard to take issue with what Sloof has to say — she is in a league of her own:  she runs one of the top websites in the history of the Internet, serves as President & CEO of a major worldwide automotive manufacturer, exercises for six hours a day, bakes homemade cookies for her kids, coaches their soccer teams, handles several community fundraisers and serves in the Peace Corps.  During her down time she likes to hand-sew American flags, volunteer at the humane society, write romance novels and pick up refuse in her adopt-a-turnpike program.

I’d go on-and-on, but I have a credit card application to finish.

So what do you think, should men be banned from shopping?  We’d love to hear from you.

An open letter to doctor and dentist offices

Dear doctor/dentist/support staff:

I’m going to take a stab in the dark that, more often than not, moms attend the appointments of their children at your office.

But when dads do attend said appointments, there’s a lot you can do beyond health care.  Tdrevilry, with all your might, to look at the dad.  Dads see you talking only to the mom, making them feel like a child in the room who doesn’t know what you’re talking about.  You could even take it step further and actually involve dads in the conversation.  You might be surprised that:  A. They know more about their kids’ health than you think, B. They’re going to make your life easier and the well check appointment quicker, because dads aren’t going to bring up that misaligned eyelash on their 4-year-old that mom brings up at every appointment, causing you to roll your eyes when no one’s looking.

[Softly hum “His Truth is Marching On” in background while continuing…]

You see, dads are people too.  Dads count.  Dads aren’t the stereotypical,  bumbling fools you grew up watching on sitcoms whose kitchen explodes because dad cooked a family meal for the first time when mom was out.  Indeed, there is no such thing as Mr. Mom.

[…hum a little louder…]

So, kind doctor/dentist/support staff, some of you are dads, too.  Remind America that dads haven’t been left out and they can make decisions about their kids’ health.

[…hum even louder, but picture a dad in a doctor/dentist office with a flag flapping behind him…]

Stand up for what’s right, and defend the freedom of dads in your office!

Yours truly,

The employees of dadmarketing

Boycott this

The Olympics are supposed to be a sporting competition of the greatest athletes in the world.

So why, then, is NBC using the opening of its telecast each evening to remind us of human rights issues that have nothing to do with sports? Why can’t they just cover, um, sports?

It’s about as unrelated as Proctor & Gamble creating the perception that moms are solely responsible for creating Olympic athletes.olympicrings

Once again, we here at dadmarketing believe that moms do indeed have a part in raising kids and encouraging them through the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. But what about dads?

P&G not only omits dads from the Olympic picture, but self proclaims themselves as the “Proud sponsor of Moms.”

In P&G’s world, dads flat-out don’t exist.

Don’t believe me?

Take a look at what a P&G VP said to USA Today: “Mom’s contributions to their kids’ lives are full of incredible sacrifices,” said Jodi Allen, Procter & Gamble vice president of North American marketing and brand operations. “We’re so moved by these moms and the way they help their children overcome obstacles to achieve their dreams. As athletes are named to Team USA, we celebrate the person that helped get each athlete there and who picked them up each time they fell — mom!”

Why can’t dads get equal love from P&G? What if dads orchestrated a boycott of their products? There’s a real boycott I’d love to see.