Cleaning up diapers: why the race for dads is on

In the world of diapers, there seems to be a sudden race to reach the long, undervalued segment of dads.

Although in some respects, the race might resemble that of a slow crawl.

Within the past month, we’ve seen the big three diaper makers – Pampers, Huggies and Luvs – all take intriguing steps toward speaking to the parent other than mom. Of course, that would be dad, the other parent who’s curiously inconspicuous from most diaper websites.

Pampers seems to be in the early lead, having quietly updated its prominent menu tabpampers2.jpg with little fanfare:  “Mommy Corner” was switched to “Parent Corner.”  Of course, Dad Marketing Headquarters noticed the change, and gave instant kudos for the fantastic, albeit minor one-word upgrade.  Fresh off its successful #PampersBabyBoard event, several dads there and elsewhere noticed the improvement and too offered their appreciation via social media.  Pampers still has a way to go to reach full parental inclusion, but tweaking a prominent communication tool like a website menu is a positive start.

Huggies, on the other hand, maintains its long-standing “Mommy Answers” menu tab, a huggies2section which ignores fathers as equal parents in more ways than one.  We’ve been in communication with its PR agency, who assures us that changes are on the way this summer.

Huggies is no stranger to controversy. Its 2012 “Have Dad Put Huggies to the Test” campaign backfired, causing its marketing team to embark on some serious damage control after one father started a “We’re dads, Huggies. Not dummies,” petition that garnered more than 1,000 signatures in less than a week.

huggies7And just this calendar year it maintained a web page at huggies.com offering the unabashed advice, “4 Ways to Get Dads to Do Diapers.”  That piece has since been removed.

Luvs also made a significant change last week:  one of its front page web sliders at luvs.com was altered after repeated nudging from our office.  It only took a simple edit to make dads everywhere feel included with its new self-proclaimed slogan:  “The Official Diaper of Experienced luvs7.pngParents.”  The only problem is, there’s other sliders on its landing page that contain other mom-only references, as well as others on its site that need updated, too.

These easy fixes are often at the core of the problem.  So often it’s a matter of a quick edit – many times a mere one word – that would make a noticeable difference.  In today’s ease-of-use content management world, they’re the kind of changes that anyone could make quick and painless within minutes.  While Huggies’ changes seem to be part of a full site-wide revision and overhaul, why wait to make uncomplicated, one-word adjustments?  Those straightforward, obvious fixes should be made right now.  All of this is part of a slow, drawn-out process and it doesn’t need to be this way.  Equality shouldn’t wait.

For now, at least a word of congrats to these diaper makers is in order.  But at the same time, no parent would let a child sit for days with an oopsie in its diaper.  So why should an exclusionary website sit unattended to, just the same?

The race is on to capitalize on the spending power of dads.  Who will win?  Keep up-to-date with this site and also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, where you can be certain we’ll stay on top of it.

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Surprise – a dad could win this mom contest

Stereotypes, media and long-held assumptions might make you believe that more men buy power tools than women – and maybe that’s true.  Maybe it’s not.

But either way, you’re certainly not going to find major home improvement retailers running campaigns which target only men.

It’s bad business.  It alienates customers.  It’s sexist.  It’s wrong.armour

Unfortunately, that’s not the way business works at Armour, which makes various food products, most notably meats.  There, it unveiled the exclusionary Great Moms Sweepstakes, running now through November.

No, it has nothing to do with Mother’s Day, and yes, anyone can enter – which means that a dad could be named a “great mom” and receive $5,000 in free groceries.

It’s hard to fathom just how Armour – founded in 1867 by two men – could create a campaign that ignores fathers contributions in today’s equality-seeking world.  Digital salt is rubbed in the wound when Armour uses its website to try and justify its oddly named contest:

Join us as we honor Great Moms – the everyday unsung heroes who give their all for their family and ask for nothing in return. We are celebrating and surprising deserving moms nationwide all year. Follow along on our website and Facebook Page for news and updates from our events.

To be sure, moms deserve those kind words in entirety – but so do dads.

Imagine you’re a dad who’s just read that text, and you’re thinking about all the work you’ve done to help raise your kids:  diapers changed, stories read, baths given, shopping trips made, youth sports attended, gifts bought, meals cooked, snacks made – and it has all been overlooked.  Your contribution means nothing.  So why should you continue buying its products?  You probably won’t, which is unfortunate.armour2.png

Ignoring dad’s contribution as an equally unsung hero disregards his status as a true, equal parent.

Armour even awkwardly uses photos of men (dads?) on its Facebook page to promote the contest.  And how strange will it look if a dad ends up being its winner?

The entire Armour campaign is a missed opportunity to celebrate parenting – not just moms – because we all know that roles are different in families now, and that they all come in different shapes and sizes.

Someone needs to tell Luvs that dads change diapers

When Huggies unveiled its infamous Dad Test campaign in 2012, the negative reaction was swift enough for Huggies to make an immediate change in its marketing approach.  The ripple effect was wide, as plenty of ad agencies learned an abrupt lesson:  dads are not buffoons.

But just because dads were being used less and less as the butt of advertising jokes doesn’t mean they had instantly achieved equal footing with moms.  Nearly five years after the Huggies debacle, dads have yet to be treated like true parents in the world of marketing.

luvs2.jpgTake a look at the website of Luvs diapers, which unveiled material putting the emphasis on mom as the lead parent.  In today’s modern, dual-parenting, two-parent-working-world, it’s hard to imagine Luvs would actually relegate dads to the backseat quite like this.

luvs1.jpgLuvs’s website speaks only to moms on exactly three of its front page sliders by excluding dads as equivalent, equal, identical parents in more ways than one – even to the startling point of exclaiming its diaper as the “Official Diaper of Experienced Moms.”

None of this comes as much of a stretch when you realize that its parent company – P&G – also brought us the highly exclusionary Thank You Mom Olympic campaign, which no doubt made dads cringe while being disregarded as equal child-raising parents during the world’s largest athletic competition. More likely, it sent shockwaves down the spines of dads, who like moms, spent many late afternoons, evenings and weekends shipping their children to incessant practices and games.

luvs5.jpgThe exclusion continues on its Facebook page, where it gracelessly invites only mothers to join in on the Luvs conversation, leaving dads everywhere in the dust.  Moreover, it offers Momojis as part of its “Official Keyboard of Experienced Parents.”  Here Luvs makes the unpleasant mistake of insisting that mom is an exact literal synonym for parent, when we all know that parents luvs4include both moms and dads.

In other words, all parents aren’t only moms.

With competitors Huggies and Pampers also offering mom-only sections on their respective websites with no comparable dad counterpart, they too insist that only moms change diapers, leaving dads to wonder what it takes to get respect in the parenting world.

It’s a surprising slow-to-change world when it comes to marketing to parents, but here’s hoping Luvs will make some quick and easy edits by spreading equal amounts of its name to both genders before its curious approach reaches Huggies proportions.

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Getting burned by sunscreen

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Somewhere, at this very moment in time, a dad is being treated differently simply because he’s a dad.

  • “It’s impressive how you brought the baby to the store all by yourself.”
  • You cooked that?  Your wife didn’t help you?”
  • That’s not how you fold the diaper.  Let me show you the right way.”
  • “Who ironed your shirt so nice for you?”

And now, apparently, you can add sunscreen to the list of things dads aren’t capable of handling.

Here we have another sexist ad from Coppertone, who negates dad as an equal parent.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time Coppertone has pulled the dads-don’t-care-about-their-childrens’-skin stunt.  And just this past May we wrote about Aveeno Baby, who also doesn’t believe fathers are equal parents.

coppertone3.pngIf you follow the ad’s instructions and take time to visit coppertone.com, there you’ll find a scrolling slide titled “Family,” which continues the sexist notion that mom is in the parental lead.

Yet on its Facebook page, Coppertone makes the awkwardly contradictory pledge:  “Coppertone, part of Bayer, is committed to bringing families the promise of better suncare for better summers.”

So, Coppertone, is dad part of the family or not?

Rather than employing “Finding Dory” as its latest promotion, perhaps Coppertone should have used “Finding Dad.”

Is that dad? In a breastfeeding ad? It’s no fad

Although the basic concept of breastfeeding will never change – yes, it’s still exclusive to women – Medela feels the industry is ripe for reinvention. medela1

As one of the global leaders in breastfeeding technology, Medela recently strengthened its industry mettle by spending the past 10 months doing something many firms thoughtlessly overlook:  communicating with customers.

However, Medela didn’t simply monitor various social media sites – it actually conversed, interacted and listened.

The result was a wildly successful “Through It All” campaign that revealed something else companies also fail to notice:  dads matter, even when it comes to breastfeeding.

“We really wanted to make sure our fathers were a part of this,” said Kim Aasen, director of marketing. “Even though (dads) can’t physically breastfeed, (they’re) an important part of that conversion. They’re important to the breastfeeding circle.”

An idea is born

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Kim Aasen, Medela

 

Last September, Medela started asking moms on its Facebook community one straightfoward question:  when it comes to breastfeeding, what would you share with another new mom? Aasen said the response was overwhelming, as many talked of a network, or community of breastfeeding support that might include a spouse, grandma, or friend.

After those key months of taking valuable customer inventory, Medela revealed its marketing idea complete with a print campaign and series of videos which tell the story of real people and their breastfeeding journey.

“We made sure we featured those people along the way, and you can see those people featured in the (print) ad,” Aasen said, who also noted that Medela overwhelmingly heard from moms who insist dads play an integral role in breastfeeding success. “We listened to make sure we are reflecting who our Medela communities are. (Fathers) are caregivers and part of the breastfeeding experience, so we want to make sure that everyone is represented.”

Let reality dictate strategy

Although society encapsulates the topic via the word breastfeeding, that equally applies to one who is breastpumping – which, of course, allows other people to feed the child.

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Behind-the-scenes at a “Through It All” campaign video shoot. Copyright Medela 2016.

 

“We want to make sure that we don’t think there is one right way to do it,” Aasen said. “We want to make sure moms and dads and families – whatever that family looks like – that there is no one perfect way to do it.”

Medela also let the customer feedback drive the campaign. It wasn’t intent on following societal norms, advertising history, stereotypes, or even demographic models – it simply felt its campaign should reflect reality.

“By listening to our community’s focus groups, dads are a part of the picture,” Aasen said. “For us, we feel like it’s reflecting reality. We’re just sharing their words back. The pictures you see online shows everyday life.”

Dads count too

As for the future, Aasen said its current campaign is squarely in phase one, which was “different than anything Medela had ever done.” Plans moving forward will continue to include a reflection of what real, modern families look like and how they make breastfeeding work for them.

On the flip side of breastfeeding is formula feeding, where some of its makers exclude fathers from its messaging.

Aasen believes companies who don’t include dads in ads should take heed:  (Those) companies are missing out. It’s not cookie cutter; (families) comes in all shapes and sizes, as do responsibilities.”

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Video crews record footage for Medela’s “Through It All” campaign.  Copyright Medela 2016.

 

 

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.

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.