Inclusivity wins: Kix phasing out old slogan

Its “Kid-Tested. Mother-Approved” slogan has adorned the box of Kix since 1978, but the famous multinational manufacturer has finally succumbed to the voices of fathers nationwide. General Mills quietly revised its long-standing motto with a new “Kid-Tested. Parent-Approved” saying that adorns its familiar and newly updated yellow Kix box.kix10-e1536595146302.jpg“Kix is excited to announce that we have updated our slogan to ‘Kid-Tested. Parent-Approved,’” said Mike Siemienas, General Mills spokesperson. “This new slogan is more inclusive as the word ‘parent’ applies to the individuals raising children.”

The new era begins after 40 years of proclaiming – through a familiar television commercial jingle – that “Kids love Kix for what Kix has got. Moms love Kix for what Kix has not.” In more recent years, dads regularly took to social media to voice displeasure, but those pleadings went largely unrecognized.

Siemienas said the updated slogan and new box “worked out well” so that both happened at the same time.

General Mills has yet to phase out the slogan entirely. Its Kix page at generalmills.com still trumpets the previous wording, and kixcereal.com not only contains the old slogan, but old box logos. Siemienas added that General Mills is working on updates to company websites.

For now, dads are overwhelmingly pleased with the Kix change. The National At-Home Dad Network – a volunteer-run, nonprofit which provides support, education and advocacy for stay-at-home dads – lauded the change on their Twitter page.

Kix boxes with the old slogan will likely still appear on store shelves, but any new boxes being produced have the new wording, according to Siemienas.

The box revision comes on the heels of a similar switch in the United Kingdom by Kellogg’s after pressure from dads who complained of its exclusionary Coco Pops box.

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Yogurt needs a marketing makeover

Yogurt is no more a feminine product than a bowl of oatmeal is masculine, but try telling that to your mouth – or your mind.

Product positioning has long labeled yogurt as diet food, which attracts a certain kind of customer. And that customer is typically female – one who tends to be concerned with how she looks to others.yoplait.png

Genderizing a product is really nothing new. The Marlboro Man sold cigarettes to men for decades. Hungry Man dinners and Chunky Soup appeal to men, as well. There are also plenty of other pointlessly gendered products that are sure to draw a chuckle.

Much of it is nonsense. Of course, there’s nothing feminine about milk, cream, fruit and sugar blended into one. Executives are merely trying to target their strongest demographic by positioning products around selling points that appeal to women.

So we know how they do it, and we know why they do it, but a larger question remains: why turn away revenue by ignoring those remaining customers?

The NFL remains one of the most successful American ventures around. It enjoys a varied mix of massive fan interest via huge TV ratings, millions of tickets sold, team apparel, fantasy leagues and its own TV network. The list could go on and on. Let’s also not forget that little game played at the end of the season which has become a cultural phenomenon like no other – the Super Bowl. This event has become far more than just a football game. Super Bowl commercials are a spectacle to behold, achieving status as the most valuable piece of TV marketing real estate in the world.

Yet despite the large focus on advertising, there’s no doubting that football is predominantly a man’s game. There has not been a single female player in the history of the NFL, and this male-dominated business appeals heavily to the masculine side of human nature.

But does that mean females can’t enjoy the game? Does that mean that women can’t be involved in the industry elsewhere? Does that mean women and football don’t belong together? Of course not.nfl2.png

Rather than focus 100 percent of its effort on targeting males even further, the NFL has invested millions in marketing campaigns aimed at women.

Female viewership of the NFL grew by 26 percent from 2009 to 2013, according to Athletic Business, which also said that 53 million women in the U.S. watched the 2015 Super Bowl, almost half the total audience of 114 million.

Couldn’t Yoplait do the same with men and dads in their world? Instead, it touts a #MomOn campaign that squarely ignores the contribution of fathers to raising and nurturing children.yoplait2.jpg

Today’s customers demand inclusion, equality and far less stereotyping. Dads are being left out in a really unfortunate way, and promotions like #MomOn aren’t doing anyone favors, because it also unnecessarily heaps all the responsibility on women.

It’s going to take a little more work than having Cam Newton serve as a spokesperson or slapping “Official Yogurt of the NFL” on cups. And we certainly don’t need more genderized gimmicks like Brogurt. Remember what happened to Lady Doritos?

Yogurt need to be reimagined, because today’s modern family has changed and parenting is shared.

The first yogurt who can figure this out stands to reap tremendously in a confused and oversaturated yogurt industry.

McDonald’s ‘Playdate’ commercial plays with old dad stereotype

Can this really be what McDonald’s thinks of today’s modern father?mcdonalds2.png

In one of its latest ads, an “in over (his) head” dad apparently can’t handle a sleepover, nor manage to feed the girls while his wife is out of town — so he visits a McDonald’s.

Judging by reaction from dads on social media, the ad sends not only a message of insensitivity to fathers who supposedly can’t handle children nor prepare food, but it also inadvertently tells moms they’re the primary cooks in the home.

It’s another controversial approach for the fast food giant fresh off the heels of a similar contentious ad also involving fatherhood. Last May, it pulled a United Kingdom commercial after backlash from viewers who insisted it was insensitive to grief-stricken kids. In the ad, a grieving son hears how he and his late father shared a love of Filet-O-Fish sandwiches. McDonald’s promptly removed the ad after 150 people complained.

An email inquiry to the McDonald’s Media Relations Office went unreturned.

In today’s modern world where advertisers are increasingly evolving past “choosy moms” and “mother-approved” slogans, McDonald’s latest message trends backward.

Can’t dad handle a fun sleepover involving five adorably cute girls? Can’t dad manage to feed these girls without his wife being present? Is it necessary that dad needs to call his wife? What message does this ad send to all parents — that moms can be working women as long as they still maintain control at home?

Put another way, would McDonald’s ever run a similar ad with the roles reversed? Imagine the scenario:  a woman realizes she’s in way over her head when her daughter has four friends over for a sleepover and her husband is out of town, which means she has to feed and entertain a group of hyper little girls.

It’s highly unlikely that McDonald’s would go this route.

And that’s the moment you realize an old, timeworn, unfair stereotype has been employed — and you’ve insulted fathers (also your customers) everywhere.

It’s time for change, McDonald’s. Dads deserve better.

Spilling drinks on dads

As a national voice for the non-alcoholic beverage industry, the American Beverage Association (ABA) sure doesn’t seem to represent the national voice.

Founded in 1919, this trade organization includes producers and bottlers of soft drinks, bottled water and other non-alcoholic beverages. Unless you’re a sports history fan, you may not recognize the ABA acronym, but you know some of the drinks it represents: Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper.

These major brands appear in a commercial together – that’s right, together – to help tout how the ABA is offering more drinks with less sugar and smaller portions.americanbeverage2.png

Only a message as important as this could help competing brands join forces for a greater cause. That greater cause, of course, is selling more drinks. However, that’s still a tough sell for soda makers who regularly come under fire for contributing to America’s obesity and overall health problems — items of concern to parents everywhere.

So who does the ABA enlist as a voice of reason in its ad?

Not both parents, who in today’s modern world share influence over their kids’ nutrition. Instead, they tout only mom as the one who watches everyone’s diet. That national voice should include dads if that’s indeed what the ABA represents.

Instead, the 30-second ad remains stuck in time and saddled by old-fashioned stereotypes that undermine fathers as equal, competent parents while the narrator explains:

“Everyone’s gotta listen to mom when it comes to reducing the sugar in your family’s diet…because we know mom wants what’s best.”

The ABA’s work is important, and their message is vital to winning back customers for its members. But ignoring the contribution of dads to families is an unfortunate oversight for these major drink manufacturers and its lobbying group. Again, dads are very much part of the national voice.americanbeverage1.png

There’s simply no reason to suggest that dads aren’t involved in raising children and taking care of families. Besides, it offers an incredible disservice to mom by heaping all of this responsibility on her shoulders while indirectly implying that a mom’s place is in the kitchen.

Its leadership owes parents a swift apology. Modern families want new choices when it comes to drinks, accompanied by equally progressive ads they represent. They also want to be treated like valued customers. To be sure, the topic affects both parents, not just moms.

A change in approach for these beverages will signal a refreshing, new era that appeals to everyone — and everyone certainly includes fathers.

Parental equality made easy

Dads are often told they’re inadequate in varied ways. They didn’t do the diaper correctly. They didn’t fold the laundry properly. The dishwasher wasn’t loaded right. And of course, the ever-popular dads don’t know how to cook.

Deep down, we all know this is absurd. When dads are “corrected” for doing things wrong, that’s unfair because they didn’t do it wrong; they may have done it different, but different isn’t necessarily wrong.

So now we have Unilever, the world’s largest consumer goods company and operator of Country Crock, telling us not countrycrock1.pngonly that dads can’t bake, but can’t even handle easy baking.

It’s true that home cooking is more often associated with women than men, but that doesn’t mean companies should exclude dads. If anything, there’s a missed opportunity to covet an untapped market. Companies would be wise to target fathers just the same.

Via stereotypes and old fashioned attitudes, home repair is more connected with men than women, but Lowe’s regularly employs women in its marketing. There’s not a single female player in the NFL, but the league still spends millions trying to reach women and moms. Harley-Davidson has benefited greatly by pursuing female customers.

Couldn’t the rest of the marketing world learn from these success stories and apply them to fathers?

Ironically, in the culinary world, professional, high-status cooking is a male-dominated sport. According to Ann Cooper, author of “A Woman’s Place Is in the Kitchen: The Evolution of Women Chefs,” 55 percent of people working in the culinary industry are men.

The dads can’t cook myth also does an equal disservice to women by inferring that a mother’s place is in the kitchen. The reality is that it’s really not that hard to follow a recipe. Yet countless food manufacturers refuse to include dad on their websites, in promotions, or on commercials. Even micro meals — arguably the easiest food prep of all — don’t speak to fathers.

countrycrock2.jpgWe implore Unilever and Country Crock to take a strong look at how dads are treated and used in their marketing. Now is the time for its creative agency to view dads with a clean slate by erasing all the myths and misguided labels, which drag fathers down from being viewed as equal and adept parents.

Companies who’d like to increase revenue and brand loyalty need to implement a different marketing strategy if they want to reach dads.

Women will never be treated with equality in the workforce until we start to treat dads the same at home. The two are intertwined. Exhibiting a gender bias in both is wrong, but the good news is that it’s fairly quick and easy to start making website edits. The rest of the company culture will follow and positively affect its other family of products.

You can make that happen today, Unilever. Families are watching.

Let’s stop telling dads they’re not parents

A clear shortcoming of excluding dads from marketing is how it diminishes his ability as a capable consumer.dadshops6

Of course, moms possess no more instinctual ability to purchase items than dads, who are fully fit shoppers. The current message and stigma about dads, however, has trained us to think otherwise. It’s that same messaging that influences moms while they shop on their own. It’s curious to contemplate that while some people believe everything outside the home is a man’s world, the marketing community firmly believes otherwise when constructing messages in relation to everything inside the home.

With all of the emotion, empowerment, and authenticity of advertising directed toward mothers, how constructive are advertisements which speak only to them?

armandhammer1.jpgIn other words, is society really taking mothers seriously when all the focus is placed on them to the exclusion of fathers? Do mothers really want this heap of responsibility when scores of moms incessantly plead for help in the home and caring for children? Do mothers really want it all, as ads so often suggest: motherhood, career, and control of the household and family? Is it fair to portray women solely as happy homemakers in half of the ads and as sex objects in the other half?

Viewed collectively, these ads seem to be at odds with how women are regarded in society and inadvertently places unwanted labels on them.

The subjective conception of such marketing means that women pay a price beyond labels and undesirable pressure.

Humanity will never achieve overall equality for women, particularly at work, until the same equality for men is achieved as parents. The two are intertwined.

When gender stereotypes unfairly discount men as true parents and view women as instinctual caretakers of children, it conveys a message that it’s a man’s world everywhere but home.

Not all parents are moms

While it’s disappointing to find another lunch product maker ignoring dads as equally competent parents and shoppers, the latest exclusionary campaign – this time from Land O’Frost – hits dads landofrost7below the belt in a variety of ways. But you’ll have to look carefully for its greatest offense, which is buried beneath several gender-biased marketing methods.

No, it’s not the spinoff webpage section which uses its company name for a play-on-words covering everything related to parenthood, er, um, motherhoodlandomoms.com.landofrost2.jpg

It’s not the numerous web graphics which speak only to moms with language like, “Ah, mom life,” or definitions of “mom-ism.” Imagine the strange vibe a dad might get who visits landofrost.com or landomoms.com, and is repeatedly having to read that he’s a “mom,” which at the very minimum makes it clear with whom the company wishes to communicate.

It’s not social media posts, which landofrost6.pngsometimes awkwardly encourage both “moms and dads” to check out its tips and recipes at its one-gender-only named site.

It’s not even the problematic trademarked pledge above its logo that insists, “From our family to yours since 1958.” Keep in mind, this is a family company headed by three consecutive dads, who one can only assume wish for dads to be treated as important as anyone else. landofrost8.png

What’s really disappointing is how the one-and-only dad imagery found on the front page of landomoms.com reveals a dad shouting and pointing at a tiny child who’s cowering on the ground, in the corner (right). Don’t dads deserve a little better than this? Does Land O’Frost really want to use its only photo of a dad in a terribly negative light? It’s not that the story’s topic itself isn’t valid – it’s a helpful topic of interest for parents – it’s just that there should be a greater quantity and quality of dad images. It would be nice to see an equal mix of genders celebrating the good in parenting, rather than furthering negative, stereotypical imagery of dads who aren’t happy, engaged, nurturing and caring parents.

That really was never true long ago, and it certainly isn’t now.

Land O’Frost seems like a fine company with quality products and strong community involvement. We say celebrate all that is good and show the nation what its story represents: how it was founded and carried on by three wonderful fathers who remained devoted to their families for generations.

What do you say, Land O’Frost? It’s not just dads and moms who are watching – it’s the kids. A renewed approach to marketing will remind future generations that family matters, and that the motto above your logo isn’t merely words.