Something’s Fishy Here

One could easily argue that Goldfish is the Disney of snack crackers.

Starting from a single idea, the company has widely diversified, established itself as an industry leader, expanded into larger markets around the globe, spanned generations, segmented into other areas and created the world’s most recognizable cracker – which serves as the company’s official mascot.

The Goldfish cracker is simple, tiny and lovable – not to mention tasty, which is more than you can say for Disney’s official mascot. It’s the perfect go-to snack for youth sports everywhere, solidly paired with its thirst-quenching counterpart, the juice box.

The Goldfish cracker has had different shapes, colors, flavors, branded tie-ins and spinoffs. As consumers, we eat them for snacks, at meals and as desserts.

(Now, if they could only figure out a breakfast-style cracker.)

Quite simply, there is nothing the Goldfish cracker can’t do.

Except champion equality.

Its latest ad disregards fathers – an unfortunate tactic from a company with a decent track record.

Just two years ago we thanked Goldfish for its inclusive message right on the package. Today, its latest magazine ad tosses dads back into the water for no apparent reason.

Words matter – something Goldfish, Pepperidge Farm and its creative team apparently has yet to learn. It had better change its ways soon before mainstream media, social media and society’s disapproving stare reminds them that stereotypes are wrong.

Everyone’s watching.

It’s a Start, But planDisney Still Needs Work

Following years of supplication and sometimes derision, the Walt Disney Company finally gave fathers, families and a nation what they have been asking for since its inception – a new name.

planDisney is the label for the retooled Disney Parks Moms Panel, an online resource for Disney vacation planning. Though once comprised of moms and – awkwardly – dads, the name reflects a shift in tone after Disney admitted moms weren’t the only ones planning Disney vacations.

Its previously narrow approach raised the ire of fathers, grandparents, uncles – and not surprisingly – people without children across social media who felt their value as a guest didn’t matter.

With its new, more inclusive term, it doesn’t pretend to cater toward one gender or family class. It now offers an improved approach that concludes vacation planning is conducted by everyone.

Though beyond overdue, Disney still deserves credit for making the switch, even if it was America’s critical eye toward stereotypes that forced its hand.

However, planDisney still needs a lot of work.

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Panel diversity

If the panel is a true reflection of Disney Parks guests, the panel is sorely missing the mark. Among its 35 panelists, only four of them are men and all four men are middle-aged. It’s difficult for vacation planners to benefit from expertise from both genders when the balance is that lopsided. Surely males have plenty to lend about the best time of year to visit, how to save money and the best hotels.

What’s more, 28 of the 35 panelists appear to be white. This can’t be representative of America. Movie audiences know that whitewashing is bad, and it’s being done in similar fashion here. Greater diversity would mean different angles from a wider expanse; greater diversity would mean more people would get an opportunity to serve as a panelist and enjoy the incredible perks it brings.

And where are the grandparents? The college-aged young adults? The children? Everyone could gain from their perspective when it comes to planning the vacation of a lifetime. Their viewpoints would be equally valuable for what should be the ultimate trip-planning resource.

It wasn’t ready

One of planDisney’s largest followings resides not on Facebook, but Twitter, where 26,000 people track @DisneyMoms. But planDisney hasn’t transitioned to its new name on Twitter yet.

Working during a pandemic has its shortcomings, but that’s little excuse for a program that should have had every nuance worked out before going live. Besides, social media is where most fans were vocal about the sexist vibe Disney Moms generated.

It not only needs to fix its old name on Twitter, but also graphics and hashtags, along with news of the name change – which would amount to its first tweet in months.

A weird history

Have you read the history on its about us page? It makes no explicit mention of its all-female past – or why it was justified in the first place – until it admits that “the panel also grew to include dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles and more.”

It then strangely concedes, “We know planning a Disney vacation includes everyone…”

Sure, planDisney has a strange evolution, but here’s a tip: there’s no need to rehash it for anyone. Drop the clumsy justification for a sexist past as if it’s a point of pride. planDisney has a clean slate, and it’s time to move on. All is forgiven.

It needs to rewrite this section pronto.

Enough is Enough, Disney

These days Americans won’t put up with stereotypes and ignorance. We’ve reached a boiling point – and with good reason.

Just ask the Washington Redskins, where the almighty dollar finally pushed owner Daniel Snyder over the edge, forcing him to confront years of repudiation regarding his team’s controversial name.

Stereotypes are ugly because they’re overgeneralized and oversimplified ideas about people. They force an identity on someone or something that isn’t true.

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With the rest of the America turning a critical eye toward all forms of ethnic and racial stereotypes, it’s hard to imagine brands still ignoring miscalculations in other areas.

For years we’ve written about Disney Moms and its refusal to retitle an outwardly discriminatory and exclusionary name. Overall, it’s a fantastic, well-intentioned program which offers Disney vacation advice from seasoned travelers.

However, the explicitly mom-only branding works to create an unknowing, needless divide in the parenting community. Not only does it refuse to acknowledge dads by name, it awkwardly inserts dads into a moms’ program and uncomfortably makes them a gender they’re not.

In 2019, Disney Moms quietly removed “moms” from its long-standing #SMMC hashtag and event name – Social Media Moms Celebration – but it was hardly enough.

The time has come to deal head-on with a program that should know better in today’s equality-focused world.

Yet somehow, someway it has spurned addressing the elephant in the room. Check out its April 27 post (also pictured above) where it continues to treat dads like secondary parents to the unfortunate extreme of ignoring their gender, identity and status in today’s modern family.

Families have noticed the omission on social media lately – perhaps a reflection of the pandemic’s stay-at-home nature which has affected our perception and awakened our senses.

Corporate America is being given little choice.

Just as it’s pressured by millions of people who know that Black Lives Matter, perhaps Disney will get with the program before its PR team is forced into spending unnecessary time playing catch-up with families who have had enough.

Why didn’t dads get a Kraft Father’s Day promo?

Last year, Kraft ran a Mother’s Day promotion – Mother’s Day Away – which encouraged moms to take time away from their family as Kraft covered the cost of a babysitter.

Going on the premise that moms wanted time off, Kraft gave $100 to 500 moms – $50,000 in total.

“Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate Mom in all of her greatness, but we know the holiday doesn’t stop the challenges of motherhood – temper tantrums, sleepless nights and picky eaters,” said Sergio Eleuterio, Head of Marketing for Kraft. “With Kraft ‘Mother’s Day Away’ we are giving moms across the country the chance to have what they secretly really want: some time for themselves.”

While the offer was certainly well-intentioned and generous, the holiday promotion had its faults. Namely, why didn’t dad get one?

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What about dad?

A year has passed since the Kraft Mother’s Day campaign. And now with this year’s Father’s Day just around the corner, dads are waiting for their Kraft gesture.

The problem is – they’re going to be waiting a long time. Attempts made to communicate with Kraft via email and social media went unreturned.

Of course, it’s unlikely we’ll see a comparable campaign. Food companies have a history of omitting fathers when it comes to holiday promotions.

In today’s modern world where parenting roles are blurred, there’s no reason this should happen.

Negativity

Exclusion aside, there’s other troublesome matters with Mother’s Day Away. The promotion purports that being a parent has more negative experiences than positive ones.

Kraft makes it sound like meltdowns and kids pounding on bathroom doors occur regularly.

There’s no doubt parenting has its moments. But it’s not all doom and gloom.

It’s time to bury the tired trope that kids are hellions who force parents to hide. There’s nothing particularly positive about a contest that implies: “Hey moms, on this heartwarming, family-based holiday, want to avoid the very people who made you a mother in the first place?”

Dads don’t help?

The ad copy also insinuates that dads don’t change diapers and that moms never get a break.

One might argue that the ad hints dads don’t do anything to help, thus creating the very reason for the contest – that a babysitter is required to fill in the shoes of the ignorant father who doesn’t help around the home.

In truth, a babysitter isn’t needed. Kraft should stop perpetuating the unfair, unrealistic and outdated notion that dads don’t help around the home and moms won’t relinquish household responsibilities and want to be Super Moms.

Of course, families realize this isn’t the case. Today’s fathers are actively engaged with household duties: diapering, cooking, cleaning, and, are also very familiar with trying to go to the bathroom while kids pound on the door.

Ad redo

“Leave the mothering to someone else?”

It’s called parenting, and dads are equally competent at it.

Here’s a rough draft for the way the advertisement should have been written: “Leave the parenting to another person for one day and hire a babysitter. Enjoy your day with your husband and/or find something fun to do on your own or with other moms. Submit your receipt and we’ll cover up to $100 for your babysitter bill. We’ll also offer this promotion to dads on Father’s Day.”

Dads are waiting

We’ll give Kraft a free pass this year due to the pandemic, but here’s hoping it will make things right next year.

The time to start planning is now. Kraft should contact real dads and start engaging to find a better way so as to not offend.

As Mark Twain once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Ask mom how she feels about dad’s exclusion

Getting marketing and media to be more inclusive of fatherhood has many key factors.

Of course, the obvious consequence of ignoring dad is the degradation of fatherhood.

Yet there is another area of concern involving all of parenthood, particularly mothers.

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Continuing to portray dads as incompetent shoppers, substitute parents for moms, or part-time sidekicks is an insult to moms.

It questions the mom’s choice she made to become a professional woman.

It’s she who desires to focus on providing the best for her family and reaching her utmost career potential instead of staying at home with the kids.

It also belittles her decision to marry the man she chose to be her husband and father of their children. No matter how you add it up, the commutative law of addition still yields the same result.

Motherhood + fatherhood or fatherhood + motherhood = both equal parenthood.

The good news is company and marketing executives have the power to change how they view dads as parents, as well as consumers of products and services.

Even better news is that dads continue to be an evolving and growing target market.

Ask mom how she feels about dad being excluded.

You might be surprised how much it affects her.

What social media thinks of the ‘Mr. Mom’ reboot

If social media is any indication, the controversial “Mr. Mom” reboot must be nearing the end of its streaming life.

Viewers didn’t take kindly to the announcement of a reboot on the Walmart-owned streaming service Vudu.

And the rest of the Twitterverse hardly knows it’s there – as of today, @MrMomTV has a mere 171 followers.

All of which barely warrants demand for keeping “Mr. Mom” on Hollywood life-support.

Here’s what commenters have had to say so far about “Mr. Mom” reboot.

How the Grinch Ignored Dads

Every family on Earth liked dads a lot…
But marketing and media, who lived on Earth too, did NOT!

They both ignored dads, even in June.
Now, please don’t ask why. No one can answer that soon.
It could be they were stuck in the Fifties.
It could be, perhaps, that the VPs were iffy.
But I think that the most likely reason to say,
May have been that they don’t know dads of today.

But, whatever the reason, being old-fashioned or mulish,
They stood there, looking at dads, acting so foolish.
Staring down from their boardrooms with a sour, grumbly frown,
At the warm lighted homes below in their town.
For they knew every dad down on Earth beneath,
Was busy now, shopping, cooking and feeding.

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“And they’re helping with kids” (which to us seemed apparent).
“Tomorrow on Christmas, they’ll act like they’re parents.”
Then they growled, with their fingers nervously a-patter.
“I must find some way to stop dads from being treated like they matter.”

For tomorrow, they knew, that dads of all kinds
Would wake bright and early, making Christmas day shine.
For the dads with their families, would sit down to a feast.
They helped cook and serve it, and shopped too, at least.
Which was something their marketing data hadn’t released.

And THEN dads would do something they liked least of all.
Every dad to be found, the tall and the small,
Would stand in the living room, so very involved.
They’d be with their kids, they had lots of fun.
CEOs don’t want to admit, but that’s how it’s always been done.

And the more marketing and media thought of those dads,
The more they thought, “We must create some new ads!”
“Why, for several years we’ve put up with it now!”
“We MUST stop dads from looking like they’re equally, competent parents! But HOW?”

Then they got an idea! An awful idea!
THE MARKETING AND MEDIA GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!

“We know just what to do!” they laughed, oh so brash.
So they made reboot of Mr. Mom in a flash.
And they chuckled, and clucked, “What a great marketing trick!
With these shows and new ads, fathers won’t look so slick.”

Then they ran some campaigns that ignored dear, old dad.
They discounted his moves, and made him look bad.
They excluded with clubs and groups so complete.
Disney Moms, Chick-fil-A Moms, Walmart Moms all did meet.

But they didn’t stop there, media insisted with glee.
The headlines ridiculed dad hastily.
Moms do the laundry. Moms pack the lunches.
Moms handle checkups. They do it in bunches.”

Kellogg’s, Gerber, Pampers and Jif.
They’ve all ignored dad – it caused quite a riff.
And just when you thought they were all out of feats,
“And NOW!” grinned marketing and media, “I will exclude more with some tweets!”

Then they opened their browser, and started to click,
When they noticed some dads who were commenting quick.
Dads stared at those ads and said, “Marketing and media, why…
Why are you ignoring dads? WHY?”

But, you know, those corporate heads were so smart and so slick,
They thought up a lie, and they thought it up quick!
“Why, my dear old dads,” marketing and media lied,
“Moms want to cook and clean, and do the work inside.
The kitchen, the laundry, the chores – it’s all theirs.
They want the control, they don’t want to share.”

And their fibs fooled consumers, but something didn’t seem right.
In today’s modern world, dad’s involved day and night.

It was quarter past dawn, all the dads, still-a-bed,
plus the moms and the kids, still a-snooze and misled.

“Pooh-Pooh to the dads,” marketing and media did chatter.
“They’re finding out now, that to families, they don’t matter.
They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!
Their mouths will hang open, but if you want proof,
The dads in their homes will remain so aloof.”

“That’s a sight,” grinned marketing and media, “That I simply MUST see!”
So they paused and figured everyone would agree.
And they did see a sight in homes across Earth.
It started upon birth, and as kids grew in worth.

But the sight wasn’t sad. Why this sight looked so fun!
It couldn’t be so! But it WAS fun – not even outdone!
Marketing and media stared down at homes!
They popped their eyes!
Then they shook and saw a shocking surprise!

Every dad down on Earth, the righteous and errant,
Surprise, surprise – knew just how to parent!
They DIDN’T have to be taught, told, or trained,
Instinctually they managed, their minds were ingrained.

Marketing and media hadn’t stopped dads from being parents. They already were!
Somehow or other, they were equally sure.

And the marketing and media, with their old-fashioned way,
Stood puzzling and puzzling, “How’d they manage today?
They cooked, cleaned and helped.
They handled it steady. They equally tended to children already.”
And they puzzled three hours, till their puzzlers were sore.
Then marketing and media thought of something they hadn’t before!
“Maybe dads,” they thought, “aren’t parents to ignore.
Maybe dads…perhaps…mean a little bit more!”

And what happened then…? Well, on the Internet they say,
That the marketing and media’s hearts grew three sizes that day!

And the minute their hearts didn’t quite feel so tight,
They brainstormed ideas to put dads in new light,
And they stopped the negative shows, programs and ads!

And they…the marketing and media themselves…took some time to know dads!

Check out these amazing dad-created Halloween costumes

Don’t look now, but Halloween is just around the corner.

And while plenty of parents are online and in stores buying costumes for their kids, there’s also a multitude who don’t.

That’s because they make costumes.

It’s hard to argue with the notion that dads do it best. Those creative, over-the-top costumes that mix imagination, ingenuity and pop culture — chances are a dad did it.

Don’t believe us? Check out these spectacular dad Halloween costumes that are sure to get you in the spirit.

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Corp speak, runarounds and talking the talk

Have you ever contacted a company only to get the runaround?

We do every day. The problem with our interactions is that they involve a little more than a faulty product, damaged good, or spoiled food. Those problems can be corrected on the spot.

Ours involve changing a mindset, a company culture and attitudes about parenting.

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What we often experience is corpspeak and a serious case of talking a good talk, yet never really walking the walk. When we point out to companies their exclusion of fathers in advertising and marketing, we hear a response that lacks of clarity and offers tedium that never results in succinct answers or change. They’re generally vague on timing, which usually means there will be no change.

Check out the following responses we’ve received in the past month or so from four prominent brands.

Baby Jogger:
“Thank you for reaching out to us. We believe that all parents and caregivers are capable of providing excellent care for their little ones. Consumer feedback is important to us and we take it very seriously. We have shared your comments with our marketing team.”

Fresh Market:
“Hi there! We love Dads too! They are mentioned on this sign as well. Just follow the asterisk! We understand, however, that their mention is not as noticeable and will share your feedback with our team!:”

Rite Aid:
“We value your feedback and we appreciate you reaching out to us. We will forward your feedback to our Leadership team for review. Thank you!”

Mott’s
“You are absolutely right. Thanks for catching a really old portion of our site that needs to be updated. Our team is working to make this correction because we love moms AND dads! It takes a village to raise a child, and we appreciate the reminder. Thanks for keeping us honest.”

Mott’s offered the most promising response, but even with that, not in any single instance did a representative make a promise or even correct the problem on the spot. Instead, the buck was passed and the complaint was temporarily pacified by ensuring us that our feedback was “valued.”

Companies love to talk about exceptional customer service, but few really back it up.

At the same time, we’ve successfully lobbied other major brands to make changes – and they did. We’ve influenced the likes of Kix, Jif, Cheerios, Pampers, Huggies, Luvs and the New York Times. It worked by simple, old-fashioned persistence.

If you’re a parent who cares about inclusion and equality, our suggestion is to remain persistent and enlist other like-minded parents to help with the cause.

Many consumers win their battles, and there’s a good chance you will, too.

Fatherhood is alive and well

I noticed a thoughtful Father’s Day meme this week: “May the Holy Spirit teach fathers to be good mentors for their children.”

It was nice and well-intentioned, and included a sweet photo of a dad playing with his daughter. However, I couldn’t get the following thought out of my mind – Why don’t we ever see messages like these directed at moms on Mother’s Day?

I mean, I’ve never seen a Mother’s Day meme imploring mothers to be good mentors for their kids. Does society assume that’s never an issue?

So why are dads made out to be lesser-than, like they have some sort of deficiency? Why are we correcting them and telling them they’re toxic? Why are we always hinting that they need to be improved?

Father’s Day is their day – can’t we be a little more upbeat and positive?

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Of course, there was a time when dad served as provider, while mom raised the children. Yet even then, dads weren’t less of parents – they just had different roles based on societal expectations and norms. It wasn’t like moms were able to nurture any better than dads, or were born with more intrinsic abilities to raise, support and rear good children.

Times are much different today with working moms, stay-at-home dads, and everyone meeting at the middle, but still the world tends to look more favorably upon mothers and never questions their abilities, judging them to be superior to fathers as parents.

What shapes this? Everything around us.

It’s evident in our attitudes, which spill into everyday conversations at home, work and in our neighborhoods. We see it in schools, where dads play outsiders in settings largely ruled by moms. We read it on the Internet, social media and news media, where the word mom is a synonym for parent. We witness it in the advertising of products and services all around us, where through old-fashioned slogans and dad exclusion via words and photos, marketers seem convinced that dads don’t visit stores and make purchases for their families.

It’s in the entertainment world, where the clumsy and aloof dad character can’t seem to handle any domestic chores, offering cheap comic fodder as the one who doesn’t know how to parent kids while the household goes awry. Even in government, we see supplemental food, health and nutrition programs only for low-income women.

Why should any of this matter?

Whether you’re a dad or not, this issue affects everyone – because we all have or had a dad. Any dad will tell you that being one is a major responsibility. And like any responsibility, whether it’s homework, for-pay-work, or house work, it involves being motivated and dedicated. Remaining faithful and true to responsibilities shapes us better as strong, loveable human beings, helping us to serve our purpose and one another.

Personal side effects include greater prosperity, happiness and a more deep-seated moral compass. As a society, we strengthen our communities, neighborhoods and businesses.

Happiness grows. Attitudes improve. Love flourishes.

Yes, I do pray that fathers will be good mentors for their children, and I pray that same sentiment for mothers.

But I also think that fatherhood has been misrepresented.

The far majority of dads are good men – real good. They need our respect and deserve our support. Contrary to what the media and marketing tells you, fatherhood is alive and well!

Pass it on.