When Good Tweets Go Bad – How Huggies Handled Father’s Day

Huggies had an interesting series of tweets for Father’s Day. Let’s explore them one at a time.

This tweet appeared on Thursday, June 16 and it centered upon everyone else’s Father’s Day pun: the dad joke. Most companies use the dad joke as its standard trope for Father’s Day, and it’s feeling threadbare. Sure, dads can be silly but so can moms. It’s important to find humor in each gender but dad jokes, dad bods – sometimes it gets a little old. Here Huggies isn’t just laughing with dads, it’s laughing at them.

But you’ll never find companies poke fun at moms. Never. Why must dads be the constant butt of jokes? There’s a lot more to men than playing the fool, which leads us to Huggies’ next few posts.

The next few tweets – one day before Father’s Day – followed a similar pattern. Any dad can relate to these, but you know what else they can relate to? Love. Sacrifice. Nurturing. Thoughtfulness. Involvement. Compassion. Empathy. Hope. Hard work. Success.

Consider the emotions and feelings which comprise fatherhood – it’s virtually endless. Following the same pattern year after year and only tapping into humor didn’t help Huggies connect with dads on a very deep level.

Huggies’ first tweet on Father’s Day seemed thoughtful and well-intentioned at first. However, it congratulated dads for performing a task one presumes is outside their scope. It implied that dads don’t braid hair. It assumed – because dads traditionally don’t have long hair – that dads have difficulty executing a braid.

In today’s modern world we constantly tell women and girls they can do anything, that there’s no glass ceiling. We cheer on women to become CEOs, physicists, presidents, astronauts and action heroes – but we suggest braiding hair is hard for men? Alas, sexism isn’t a one-way street.

Now imagine Huggies posting something like this on Mother’s Day: “To the moms learning how to play baseball with your boy, or build a deck, or work on the car, etc., for the first time: you’re doing great.”

That post wouldn’t happen because it would demean women. It would stereotype they can’t or don’t do something. So, why do this to dads?

Next, in a similar vein, Huggies gave props to the stay-at-home dads. This was nice, of course, but again could you envision Huggies posting a comparable message on Mother’s Day?

“To all the working moms: you rock. Keep doing you, mom.”

Of course not.

There is a way to honor stay-at-home dads for their contribution to the family and home, but this wasn’t it.

Huggies then completed its Father’s Day messaging with the granddaddy of them all. A tweet that managed to redefine the meaning of this focused, intentional June holiday.

It’s easy to infer what Huggies was trying to convey – that there are a lot of moms who do double duty either as single moms, or who carry the load when dad is away. These noble, hard-working women deserve their day in the sun. Come to think of it, they had one on May 8.

Which is why Father’s Day is for fathers, and Mother’s Day is for mothers. Period.

And once again, apply the same premise to a Mother’s Day post and you’d create absolute shock, stir a whirlwind of viral activity, followed by a full-blown mutiny.

If you re-read Huggies’ tweets you’ll notice, not once, did it simply state, “Happy Father’s Day.”

Their social media team has some work to do, but perhaps next year it could start there.

Dads Don’t Need Extra Praise, Only a Smile

A dad was grocery shopping with his four young children when he crossed paths with a mom-acquaintance – and the encounter was anything but ordinary.

The mom stopped immediately, slowly stood up straight, put her hands on her hips and nodded with wide-ranging approval as she exclaimed, “I’m impressed!”

Unfortunately, this sort of encounter was nothing new. Just by way of being male, dads have been typecast as being out of their element in the grocery store, with kids in tow, and (gasp) all alone.

That mom might have been thinking: what kind of dad would confront this ordeal and actually enjoy it?

Actually, dads do. The funny thing is, they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing: they’re being parents.

Dads and moms parent different, but that doesn’t make one better or more right than the other. Just different. That’s a good thing.

Despite these differences, all dads have one thing in common: they see parenting as central to their identity and want to be treated the same as everyone else. None of them want to be considered a hero for serving as a breadwinner and still maintaining an engaged fatherly role. They don’t want praised for braving the so-called tempest of taking kids shopping. You don’t need to applaud them when they change a diaper, clean a room, fold the laundry or merely cook a meal. And they certainly don’t want to be coddled or checked upon when they’re left alone with the baby.

All of this comes naturally to them, and there should be no questioning their might as caring or fully competent parents. Simply put, they want to be held in the same regard as anyone else.

Think about it: women are no more instinctually capable of caring for children, but it’s the media who would never let you think otherwise. Dads are equal parents in every way, shape and form.

So, if you happen to see a dad in the grocery store with kids, the best thing you can do is just smile. There’s nothing better than knowing everyone is on the same team.

Thoughtfulness Never Grows Old — And Dads Do It Well

Have you ever looked for ways to save money? How about saving water or energy? Eventually you run out of ideas. There are only so many.

However, you never – repeat, never – exhaust all ideas when it comes to doing thoughtful, caring things for your spouse. We’ve all seen these lists scattered about the Internet, but curiously, they usually have a number placed on them:

  • “25 Cute Things to do for your Spouse”
  • “10 Little Things Connected Couples do”
  • “51 Things to Brighten Your Spouse’s Day”

Valentine’s Day offers a natural, built-in source for expressing your love. But why do this only on scheduled holidays or anniversaries? Gestures can happen anytime and for no reason. Imagine doing something once a month – it could be sentimental, silly, or fun. You could indulge with gifts large and small, buy a few and make some.

If you’ve been married for, say 10 years, that’s 120 consecutive moments (more like opportunities) to show thoughtfulness and recall your marriage vows – proving that there is no quantifiable limit to creativity in showing love.

However you honor your spouse, do it regularly – not just on Valentine’s Day or your anniversary. Make it a routine, and not only will your spouse appreciate it, but your kids will benefit from witnessing their parents showing love, and exhibiting a lifetime of love. That’s key, because love is not merely saying, it is doing.

This has a lot to do with how we view dads in marketing and media. The more dads are out there setting the example and building relationships through action, the less dads are improperly pegged as not thoughtful and caring.

Of course, dads care a lot – everyone knows that. The media need to see it more.

Just remember, you may be growing older little by little every day, but thoughtfulness never does. And dads do it well.

Why Pregnancy is a Lot Like Watching Sports

As difficult as it must be to play in and lose a sports championship, the agony of defeat is stronger for the fan.

Some of us have experienced that competitive loss as an amateur participant, but most of us have no way of knowing what it’s like to lose, say, the Super Bowl. Yet as painful as that numbing loss must feel, it’s harder to stomach for fans.

Why?

As much as fans can scream and support their teams, they really have no control over the situation on the field. It’s a feeling of powerlessness, of not being able to have a direct effect on the outcome. As invested as they are in their team, as strong as they love and support their squad, as much as they ooze lifelong civic pride – the best they can do is watch. And maybe pray.

All of this is a little bit what it’s like to for pregnancy and men. The dad-to-be can do plenty to cheer, motivate and support his baby-carrying-wife, but ultimately it’s on her to deliver the trophy – er, baby. He can maintain a healthy diet and stay fit as much as he wants, but it will matter little to the baby’s immediate development. He can get rest and seek plenty of help from family to prepare for the arrival, but the baby will still come as planned. He can study birthing and practice all the breathing exercises until he’s blue in the face, but the apple will eventually fall from the tree.

Granted, there’s actually a lot a man can do by way of touch, action, preparation, studying, coaching, and so on. A man can tell her how beautiful she is, take the far majority of the load when it comes to domestic duties, give massages, and romanticize her – and on and on.

But that dad probably would like to do more, and he probably wouldn’t mind being a little more in the game, as opposed to sitting on the sidelines. Go ahead and laugh, but you’d be surprised how many men wouldn’t mind giving pregnancy a try, if called upon. Those comments are always made out of mutual respect and in communion with wives. That’s true empathy.

So, let’s not forget that dads have plenty to think about during pregnancy, too. It’s an emotional time that requires a lot of patience and understanding. Dads deserve some of that, as well.

Marketers and media must remember that parents can reach the championship moment together. It shouldn’t be portrayed as a one-sided moment. Talk to dads in ad copy and your profit sheet will thank you.

It’s Not Just the Mom That’s Pregnant – It’s Dad, Too

When a child is on the way, a couple is overjoyed and over-the-moon about the huge change they’re about to experience.

But dads tend to feel left out.

When a couple becomes pregnant (more on that expression in a moment), it’s the woman who gains instant adulation by way of carrying the child. The wife goes shopping for new maternity clothes, often with sisters or girlfriends. She’ll likely host a baby shower with lots of guests, food and presents. She’ll physically start to change and receive extra consideration at doctor visits. She’ll get to request special foods not normally part of one’s daily diet (see cravings).

All of it is a wonderful, exciting time, and any husband is happy to see the added care and consideration his wife gets. The husband’s life will change, too, but the lack of attention can easily make a dad feel shut out.

The Boppy Company didn’t make things any easier with one of its recent blog posts.

In it, the writer states, “…it’s really not about you (male). You may have had something to do with conception, or were very involved with satisfying late night cravings, but the reality is, the person giving birth is going to be going through a lot and you’re not. In fact, you’ll likely be just sitting there most of the time.”

Any dad who’s gone through a pregnancy knows that’s not the case.

The change may not be physical, but dads go through a lot during a pregnancy. During delivery, he’s hardly just sitting there most of the time. And, he may have had a lot to do with conception.

Of course, there’s plenty a wife can to do make a dad feel like a part of the team: register together, attend appointments, plan the room, and feel the baby’s kick. All of this should go without saying. But the best idea is often overlooked.

So, what is that one, easy, surefire, free way to make dad feel appreciated and involved?

Let everyone know you’re both pregnant.

Sure, we all know that, technically, the child is growing inside the female. However, as stated, we also know that none of this is physically possible without a male – and that child is his, too.

So get used to saying it: couples become pregnant.

By telling the world, “We’re pregnant!” and “our baby is on the way,” it’s a telltale endorsement to friends and family that the baby is yours together, and dad-to-be is every bit an equivalent parent as mom-to-be. There’s no better way to make dad feel like a valued, equal part of the team. And yes, dad’s heart melts, too – he loves hearing togetherness words.

When women inevitably exclaim, “I’m pregnant” – it’s not that they intentionally meant to exclude husbands, or invoke any fatherly emotional detachment from the baby. It’s likely they just didn’t realize their word choice, or forgot, or omitted, or assumed, or overlooked.

Yet, that’s what happens to dads all the time.

So, make a pledge to use the proper pronoun during your pregnancy and beyond. Your relationship – as well as a genuine, committed, unified parenting approach – will be the better for it.

Why Did “Luca” Have an Absent-Minded Dad?

Alberto and Luca in a scene from Disney and Pixar’s “Luca” (courtesy Disney/Pixar)

For all the fun that Disney and Pixar’s latest film, “Luca,” predictably provides, it steps backward by employing a time-worn trope you might not have expected: the absent-minded dad.

With likable Jim Gaffigan at the helm – who admittedly knows a thing or two about dadly self-depreciation – it’s a surprising move while the rest of Hollywood seeks equality and eradication of stereotypes.

Of course, films are trying to right the ship. Superheroes aren’t just white anymore; they reflect nationalities across a wide spectrum. We’re largely done seeing damsels in distress; today’s successful female characters don’t sexualize or diminish their gender, they lead. Even animation has taken strides by employing actors whose skin represent their cartooned personas.

But then you have “Luca” with its preoccupied dad.

What in the name of Pixar’s lamp is going on here?

The sad part is this was unwarranted, gratuitous and preventable. While Luca’s overly protective mother Daniela (Maya Rudolph) admirably tries to save the day – Gaffigan’s character is left looking like her passive assistant at best.

For once, moviegoers get to see both Disney parents alive and instead they’re treated to a dad who can’t seem to get this parenthood thing down. The same idea was employed in 2018’s “The Incredibles 2,” as the dad from the titular superhero family struggled in his new role as a stay-at-home parent.

One could claim this film’s 1950s period setting merely reflects how dads were less involved during a simplified “Leave it to Beaver” era. Yet this categorization is unfair to the Greatest Generation who worked hard to provide for their families and got labeled as “distant” or “uninvolved.”

What moviegoers could have really used is some dad positivity, especially as the Disney+ film opened a mere two days before Father’s Day, and with the world slowly opening from a pandemic. Instead, subscribers were not only treated to an unnecessary absent-minded dad, but another – only mentioned by name – who abandoned his son (Luca’s new friend, Alberto).

In an otherwise beautiful Disney/Pixar movie filled with dazzling visuals, strong character development and a kindhearted story – even if it mimics 1989’s “The Little Mermaid” – it was a shame to see a dad used so little and leaning lazily on threadbare comic material.

While the rest of the nation looks with careful judgment on unfortunate stereotypes, this film sadly takes a step backward with equality. Dads have never been more active and involved in their families – and they’ve operated this way for a long time. Disney/Pixar should reflect this in film.

It’s time the entertainment world truly catches up because the next generation of fatherhood is watching.

Parenting Isn’t a Mindset, It’s a Vocation

Similac has long offered a StrongMoms program despite selling a product any parent can use. We’ve pointed it out in the past and received nothing in response – until now.

We replied to one of Similac’s StrongMoms social media posts with, “It’s baby formula. Why not call it StrongParents Rewards? #DadsCountToo”

Similac had a most curious response.

“While named StrongMoms, it’s really meant to be a mindset that encourages and supports all parents in the decisions they make for their families. So any caregiver who identifies with our message should feel like they can be a part of StrongMoms. We have plans to continuously improve our program for ALL caregivers, and we’ll be sure to share your feedback with our team.”

A great deal of sexism can be deduced from this three-sentence response:

1. If you’re a male, you’re not a dad – you’re a mom. Similac says that if you identify with their message of being a parent, you’re essentially a mom. Forget the fact you’re a dad or could even be a grandparent caregiver. Everyone is considered a mom in its program because mom is the default parent. Dads don’t matter.

2. Dad isn’t capable of being a caregiver. Don’t beat around the bush Similac, just say it – you don’t think dads are equally capable parents. You don’t believe dads are as good parents as moms. That why you can’t even state the word dad in your response. Of course, the truth is mothers bear no more instinctual ability to parent than fathers.

3. Let’s call a spade a spade. Why doesn’t Similac simply change the program’s name? Why can’t it employ the word parents instead of moms? Does Similac feel inclusion of the word parents would cause moms to become less interested in its products? That seems unlikely. Here’s what we do know: if your name is biased, your program is biased. If your logo is biased, your message is biased. If your photos are biased, your potential customers can’t identify with whatever message you’re trying to convey.

4. Gender equality doesn’t work both ways. Women deserve gender equality in the work force and companies wouldn’t dare suggest otherwise. Men deserve gender equality in the home but don’t get it. Promoting a mindset where dads aren’t supported in name isn’t supporting. It’s time for change.

5. Conduct a ‘switch the name’ test. Replace the word mom with dad to see how it reads and whether or not it might exclude. If so, it might be time to consider a more inclusive name. When a company doesn’t recognize and see the value of the man a woman chose to be her husband and father of their children, that could very well be insulting to moms, too.

Is This Really a ‘Parents’ Magazine?

Parents Magazine has provided much inspiration for our recent social media posts. For a magazine that purports to be for “parents,” its readers and the parenting community might insist otherwise. But don’t take our or others’ words for it. Check out Parents Magazine’s very own content and you be the judge.

Dads love making and serving their kids healthy snacks, too. Why does Parents Magazine insist on making mom look like the only one who cares about nutrition?

This is another example of a headline that makes mom out to be the lead parent.

Don’t dad-tested discipline tricks work? “Parent-tested” would have been much more appropriate.

Here’s a way to increase male readership — mention them, involve them, ask them, survey them, talk about them. There’s no better way to engage someone with your mission than to make them feel like they matter.

‘Twas the Night Before Shopping

‘Twas the night before shopping, as Christmas was coming,
Dad got the list ready, his fingers were humming.
He had to get set, he led the charge,
He scoured the ‘net, finding deals that were large.

The children were snoozing asleep undercover,
Also dreaming of Black Friday deals they’d discover.
With mama beside him, they both went a-clicking,
Shopping online takes a lot of nitpicking.

When they got to homepages, they saw some odd chatter,
Which insisted that dads didn’t all that much matter.
Site after site excluded dear dad,
Using wording for moms, which left them both sad.

It was hard to believe how dads were excluded,
“moms ran the home,” some companies alluded.
Wherever you looked no matter the price,
The omission of dad didn’t seem very nice.

When out on social media things got rather viral.
Other parents complained of this bad downward spiral.
So away to the car dad flew in a dash,
To confirm dads shopped and used hard-earned cash.

The tune as you’d guess on the mall speakers,
Was Bing Crosby singing to dads in their sneakers.
Across the food court and wide galleria,
Dads shopped and hunted for their next idea.

Not vapid but lively dads moved all about,
Wives and kids tagged along as dads started to shout:
“I know where we’ll save, I saw deals on my phone.
Just follow my plan, I’m so in the zone.
I worked hard for our money, so let’s stretch our dollar.
Finding deals is my game,” the dads seemed to hollar.

So up to each level, dads and families flew,
Finding specials, discounts and markdowns anew.
And then, I noticed and heard just for proof,
Dads tending to kids, they weren’t aloof.

They were dressed in their best, their entire outfit,
And some dads were stained with yellow baby spit.
A big diaper bag they’d flung on their backs,
They sure looked like parents, they even carried snacks.

Their guise wasn’t wrinkled, their beards were so hairy,
For months they were sleepy yet still acted merry.
‘Cause nothing did stop them with kids all in tow,
with presents to buy, they couldn’t move slow.

Their teeth how they shined, not the least bit of faint,
A halo encircled their heads like a saint.
They had broad faces, some were fit, some were not.
And they always stooped down to wipe faces with snot.

Called hubby and dad, those men never stopped,
And I nodded in favor and as they heroically shopped.
Those marketers who think that dads don’t shop,
Should have seen these guys their children call pop.

Mentioning dad by word may not seem like a lot,
But it gets them involved, makes them feel like they ought.
Dads sense that they matter when included by name,
It strengthens the family, it treats them the same.

Then you’ll hear them exclaim, above Christmas décor,
“I am daddy – hear me roar!”

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.