Because dads are nurturers, too

armsreach1It’s a nice breath of fresh air when someone isn’t afraid to show a dad in a nurturing, or dare we say, snuggly position.  But that’s exactly the case with Arm’s Reach, who does what’s unfortunately the unthinkable for so many baby product companies – placing a baby carrier on dad.

It’s a sight we’ve all seen before, be it the park, library, or store. But for some reason, companies have a hard time going there.

Alas, the ad is great, where Arm’s Reach takes a small and brief moment to show a dad in a positive fashion, which validates that it must believe – on some level – dads do indeed shop and parent, too.

Last year, a Kansas City television station put the combination of dads and baby wraps in ksn3a less-than-flattering light while simultaneously making a mockery of fathers in other ways.  That station would do well to learn from this undertaking by Arm’s Reach, who isn’t afraid to put dad in an ad that also promotes a bassinet.

Anything placing dad in a position of nurturer is encouraging and needed.  Mother’s and Father’s Day occur in back-to-back months, yet you’ll be hard pressed to find many hearts on cards for dad – it’s more like neckties, easy chairs, power tools and beer mugs.

We say celebrate the love and warmth that comes from a father.

Keep up the good work, Arm’s Reach.  We’ve already heard from a few dads who appreciate the message you’re sending to America!

A picture is worth a thousand hugs

toysrusSure, this featured email promo from Toys”R”Us is a gratuitous Father’s Day message which ran this past June 21, likely the lone time during the year you’ll see a dad-specific message from the giant toy retailer.

Today, however, that’s not of our concern.

Take another look at the ad. The copy is creative. The design is clean. The look is simple.

And, whoa, is that a child is hugging a dad?

That act – the hug – is the kind of thing normally unassociated with the stiff, rigid, unexpressive, stereotypical father, right? So often we typically see hugs and kisses for mom at Mother’s Day, and a lot of tools and neckties for dad on Father’s Day. It’s unfair labeling where we’ve been conditioned by companies to think that only moms are the caring, nurturing ones at home, while dad’s true love must be work since he’s there most of the day, hence the tie.

So when it comes to expressions toward dad, it’s less common to see hugs in advertisements. You might see hand holding or a shoulder ride at best, but a hug for dad is rare in ads.

We applaud the creative team at Toys”R”Us for presenting what others can’t: a deep tenderness and affection toward dad.

This is exactly the kind of move that tells dads, “We know you’re out there, and we value you; we’re talking to you, and we want you as customers.” It presents dads in a caring light as the nurturers they really are, and speaks to them through solid marketing messages that evoke emotion.

Nice work Toys”R”Us, and we look forward to seeing repeat performances not just in June, but throughout the year.

That’s because rumor has it, more than one dad has visited all of your 865 stores before.

Gender-biased Juice Juice ignores dads

When kids refuse to greet a friend or guest, that’s considered rude behavior. Similarly, if a child deliberately ignores its parents, many experts seem to agree that the child should be left alone.juicyjuice10

Based on this approach, Juicy Juice doesn’t deserve a word here, or a moment of our time.

Yet, those same experts also insist that limits, expectations and consequences must be spelled out more clearly at a calmer time so that offenders clearly understand what they’re risking.

Earlier this month – including right through the Father’s Day holiday – Juicy Juice unveiled a marketing campaign that ignored dads in every way possible. It discounted fathers through various tweets, hashtags and sayings which exclaimed again and again that dads don’t count. Sadly, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen it indicate that dads mean nothing to it as customers.  And Juicy Juice isn’t the only one.

juicyjuice11This exclusionary marketing this is a form of old-fashioned, reverse consumerism discrimination. Repeated tweets to Juicy Juice were ignored, which isn’t exactly smart business, because rather than talking to some of its customers and dialoguing about its approach (not that it could even be justified), it lost some instead.

Fathers 4 Justice eloquently spells out some of these limits and expectations, and the consequences of Juicy Juice’s actions have already been identified here.

Any mom should be embarrassed, too, by this discounted approach toward their husbands. What’s more, Juicy Juice was even awarding $5000 in prizes to celebrate the various ways in which dads have no involvement in providing kids nourishment through its juice.

Perhaps by next Father’s Day we’ll see a renewed approach at marketing and communication where dads can feel like they’re customers too.

Anything else is just rude behavior.

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.

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.