Johnson & Johnson: taking cues from Amazon Mom

Last May, we wrote about a Johnson & Johnson ad which clearly excluded dads, and then tweeted the company of our displeasure.

Johnson & Johnson wrote back, as you can see on our Twitter site here, and assured us that it “is committed to supporting parents – moms & dads.”

Those were uplifting and encouraging words, especially from a company which plays at least some small part of everyone’s child care, usually from the very start in the hospital.

Yet here we are, nearly a year later, and J&Js marketing message hasn’t changed. Note the featured ad, where the baby only thanks mom for applying its lotion.johnson&johnson2

If you’re a dad, I suspect that right now you’re feeling abandoned by a company whose products you probably used in the hospital right upon your child’s birth. A cold shoulder like this hurts, especially if you saw that Twitter promise last May.

Sadly, Johnson & Johnson’s dad avoidance doesn’t stop with print ads, as its website is filled with examples of one exclusion after another:

  • Visit our Facebook page to share your baby’s special moments with other Moms just like you.
  • Moms around the world trust JOHNSON’S® to safely care for their babies.
  • We’re dedicated to advancing the health and well-being of women, children and families around the world.
  • We are committed to working with moms, healthcare experts and scientists to ensure our baby products continue achieving the highest JOHNSON’S® baby standards.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again:  dads count too.  We can’t expect change to happen overnight, but it has been 11 months after J&J distinctly gave us its commitment – one that sadly wasn’t kept.

Johnson & Johnson was founded in 1886 by two men who may very well have had their own family in mind when conceiving ideas for surgical dressings and sanitation practices. It has to make you wonder about its overall company mission when its marketing and communications team prefers to only speak to a select group, and blatantly ignores another.

Right this very moment, a child is born somewhere and J&J is playing a part in its care.

And also right at this very moment, J&Js marketing department has an opportunity to show dads everywhere it really cares, because as any married couple will tell you, a promise is everything.

A product made by a man, but doesn’t want men to buy it

drsmithWhen a couple becomes pregnant (let’s not get too literal on that statement, by the way), it’s the woman who gains instant adulation by way of carrying the child. The wife will probably pick out new maternity clothes, possibly host a baby shower, request certain special foods and physically start to change. It’s a wonderful, exciting time.

The husband’s life will change too, but the lack of attention can easily make a dad feel shut out.

It’s one thing for dads to feel left out, but another to actually experience it.

I know of a man who was about to become a dad again, and he was thrilled as ever to be a part of the process. But when it came time for the actual hospital birth, he became the invisible man.

From the moment he arrived with his wife at the hospital, no one greeted him, talked to him, asked him how excited he was, inquired to see if he had any questions, took the time to get to know him, told him what he could do to help, or acknowledged him in any way.

No one. Not a doctor, nurse, assistant, or anyone else in the room.

The first interaction he had with anyone on that joyous day was when he initiated it by asking a nurse if he could hold his new baby.

Now I’ll admit, communication is a two-way street and this wasn’t their first child, but the hospital clearly calls the shots and dictates the flow of the procedure. Part of the delivery day, which involves plenty of waiting, should be geared toward having the hospital staff going out of their way to purposely involve the dad in some way. He made that baby happen, too, and is responsible in complete, equal fashion.

This true story reminds me of another doctor, who makes a regrettable point to ignore dads everywhere in its latest ad.

Dr. Smith’s ointment and spray assumes that dads don’t take care of babies, and it doesn’t stop in this September 2014 American Baby magazine ad. Take a gander at their website to read (and watch) more of this dad exclusion:

  • A heading which reads, “Pediatrician Developed. Mom Approved.”
  • A separate menu tab with “Mom Reviews.”
  • “For more than 50 years, moms have known about how well Dr. Smith’s® works…”
  • “Moms have lots to say about how well Dr. Smith’s works for them…”
  • “See what these in-the-know moms have experienced…”
  • Testimonials from moms, but not a single testimonial from even one dad.

And we haven’t even mentioned the print ad (pictured above – click to enlarge), which excludes dad not once, but twice.

I’m sure the product works fine, Dr. Smith is probably a nice guy and no one meant any harm.

But that’s exactly the problem: no one ever means any harm, they just didn’t realize, or forgot, or omitted, or passed over, or assumed, or overlooked. That’s what happens to dad all the time.

Dads have been forgotten for years, and it’s time to start acknowledging that they are involved with pregnancies, taking care of babies and child-rearing.

The possibility always exists that the marketing team intentionally left dads off the ad and their website in order to market solely to moms. How sad that would be, because Dr. Smith is a man himself, and a doctor should know better.

Dads count too, Dr. Smith. You probably even treated a future one in your pediatric office back in the day.

What do you say about changing your marketing messages as fast as your ointment supposedly works?

Daniel Murphy: MVP (Most Valuable Parent)

esiasonNice job, Norman.

Our upstart enterprise is trying to advance the cause of dads in the marketplace, and you messed it all up.  I realize we’ve only been in existence for four months, but you set back dads at least 40 years.

Your speak-first, think-later attitude fuels the rampant assumption that dads don’t want to be involved with their kids, validating the imprecise decision-making of marketers everywhere.

And you haven’t even apologized yet!

In case you thought you read or heard Norman’s apology somewhere, you didn’t.  He never even apologized to the person at the center of this controversy!  Let’s take a look at what Norman said in this so-called apology:

“I just want to say again on this radio show that in no way, shape or form was I advocating anything for anybody to do. I was not telling women what to do with their bodies. I would never do that,” he said. “That’s their decision, that’s their life and they know their bodies better than I do. And the other thing, too, that I really felt bad about is that Daniel Murphy and Tori Murphy were dragged into a conversation, and their whole life was exposed. And it shouldn’t have been.”

Right now I’m going to play the part of Norman’s PR (i.e., damage-control) assistant, because he clearly doesn’t have one.  Let’s re-write what he could have said on the air — in addition to — his lame apology:

“Furthermore, I’d like to extend a heartfelt apology to Daniel Murphy and dads everywhere.  Dads deserve to witness the birth of their children, and to be there for him/her in the infancy of its days on earth.  After all, the woman was able to bond with the child, carry and hold it for the past 9 months — is a few days, or even a week, too much to ask for the dad?  I think not.  So, I am here to champion the cause that dads must be just as involved in raising children as the mom.  And it starts from day one, at the hospital.  I don’t care what profession you’re in, whether you’re in a high profile job like a Major League Baseball player or at the other end of the spectrum as, say, a radio show host.  Dads deserve rights, too.”

Mr. Daniel Murphy, just go on being a dad and doing your thing.  You made the best decision of your life, and don’t let other misguided individuals make you think that work comes above major life moments.

Once Norman reads this and hires me as his PR assistant, I’ll then have the money to afford tickets to a Mets game, at which point I’ll display a hand-made sign bearing the title of this day’s blog entry:

Daniel Murphy:  MVP (Most Valuable Parent)