Corp speak, runarounds and talking the talk

Have you ever contacted a company only to get the runaround?

We do every day. The problem with our interactions is that they involve a little more than a faulty product, damaged good, or spoiled food. Those problems can be corrected on the spot.

Ours involve changing a mindset, a company culture and attitudes about parenting.

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What we often experience is corpspeak and a serious case of talking a good talk, yet never really walking the walk. When we point out to companies their exclusion of fathers in advertising and marketing, we hear a response that lacks of clarity and offers tedium that never results in succinct answers or change. They’re generally vague on timing, which usually means there will be no change.

Check out the following responses we’ve received in the past month or so from four prominent brands.

Baby Jogger:
“Thank you for reaching out to us. We believe that all parents and caregivers are capable of providing excellent care for their little ones. Consumer feedback is important to us and we take it very seriously. We have shared your comments with our marketing team.”

Fresh Market:
“Hi there! We love Dads too! They are mentioned on this sign as well. Just follow the asterisk! We understand, however, that their mention is not as noticeable and will share your feedback with our team!:”

Rite Aid:
“We value your feedback and we appreciate you reaching out to us. We will forward your feedback to our Leadership team for review. Thank you!”

Mott’s
“You are absolutely right. Thanks for catching a really old portion of our site that needs to be updated. Our team is working to make this correction because we love moms AND dads! It takes a village to raise a child, and we appreciate the reminder. Thanks for keeping us honest.”

Mott’s offered the most promising response, but even with that, not in any single instance did a representative make a promise or even correct the problem on the spot. Instead, the buck was passed and the complaint was temporarily pacified by ensuring us that our feedback was “valued.”

Companies love to talk about exceptional customer service, but few really back it up.

At the same time, we’ve successfully lobbied other major brands to make changes – and they did. We’ve influenced the likes of Kix, Jif, Cheerios, Pampers, Huggies, Luvs and the New York Times. It worked by simple, old-fashioned persistence.

If you’re a parent who cares about inclusion and equality, our suggestion is to remain persistent and enlist other like-minded parents to help with the cause.

Many consumers win their battles, and there’s a good chance you will, too.

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This company needs to stop calling dads, moms

Recently we noticed a Disney Moms post which identified a dad as a mom, so we shared that inaccuracy with the Twitterverse.

A handful of Disney supporters offered comments. In fact, they told us not to worry, to direct our energy toward other things and offered assurance of respect for dads.

That was nice, but it offers plenty for discussion.

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It’s great to hear that Disney Moms appreciate dads. In previous posts we’ve regularly lauded the program’s intentions and agree that dads comprise a valuable part of the group. If you’re planning to visit a Disney park, this program does offer great advice. There’s little doubt in our minds that dads are indeed loved and appreciated by participants on the panel.

Well, mostly. If they were truly and fully appreciated, dads wouldn’t be excluded from the program’s name. As for respect? Not completely.

One definition calls respect “a feeling of deep admiration for someone elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.” It’s hard for dads to feel fully appreciated when the most honorable title achieved upon the birth of one’s child isn’t stated – or even acknowledged.

The dismissal of our concerns, however, is cause for disappointment. When those commenters asked us to direct our energy toward other matters and not to worry – it made us feel like our concerns didn’t matter, rather than acknowledging them and admitting the obvious discrimination.

We’ll admit it’s hard for anyone on the panel to do this. Those members are getting nice perks and probably aren’t even allowed to voice displeasure over the current Disney Moms name. If they did, it might mean the end of extras and incentives.

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Hey, we get it. No panel member is going to bite the hand that feeds them.

One woman commented, “it never really was much of an issue.”

Perhaps from her perspective. But she’s not a dad. Ask the millions of dads elsewhere who don’t sit on that panel and only see a major brand name ignore their very being. Most dads live their lives as secondary parents to moms. Just ask Huggies. Or watch videos. Or read magazines. Or follow our Twitter page.

The fact of the matter is, it’s not only odd to see dads being called moms – it’s wrong and unfair. It devalues who they are – equal, competent parents. We don’t believe women’s basketball teams should be called men. Congresswomen shouldn’t be called men. Policewomen shouldn’t be called men.

Language is one of the most powerful means through which sexism and gender discrimination are carried out.

This is no different.

No mom would like being called a dad, right?

We successfully lobbied Kix, Jif, Cheerios, Pampers, Huggies, Luvs, the New York Times and other major brands to make changes, and we’ll continue to advocate for equality and inclusion.

The awkwardness of having Disney call a father a mother – and seeing men accept that – isn’t bound to last forever.

It’s time for Disney to make everyone feel like true guests. Dads are waiting.

‘Twas the night before marketing to dads

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‘Twas the night before marketing to dads,
When all through the house,
Dad was excluded,
By an iconic brand mouse.

It’s hard to know why,
A travel program is named,
Disney Moms and not “Parents,”
Dads should be treated the same.

But they’re not all around.
Dads are left out of the talk.
Take a look at some ads,
It’s all quite a shock.

In the blink of an eye,
And a twist of your head,
Soon will give you to know,
You have plenty to dread.

“Choosy Moms Choose Jif,”
Peanut butter will say,
That’s only the beginning of,
The dad-parent downplay.

Formula, diapers,
Medicine, more.
Dad’s always left out,
By marketing lore.

Look at formula ads,
We’re talking bottles, not breastfeeding.
Dad’s a perfect consumer,
Why isn’t Similac heeding?

You’d also think Boppy,
Would market to men.
It’s a pillow for propping,
Read its history again.

And mmm, Texas Toast.
It’s a garlicky love-in,
Yet notice the ad,
Dad can’t handle an oven?

When a child is sick,
Dad will manage the fever.
But Exergen thinks,
He’s an underachiever.

Even medicine makers,
Insist dad can’t administer.
Mom wouldn’t be happy,
If Dr. Cocoa dismissed her.

Diapers are often a point,
Of daddy exclusion.
It’s hard to know why,
It’s such a confusion.

Oh, Huggies! Not Pampers!
Luvs, too. Earth’s Best?
Dad deserves better,
This must be addressed.

We’ll admit some have changed,
Like Amazon and Kix,
But there’s still work to do.
It doesn’t take tricks.

So just when you think,
One parent is in charge.
Think again! Think equally!
Dads are parents – supercharged!

Consider how you treat them,
Don’t drive dad out of sight,
Don’t leave him left out,
And you’ll have a good night.

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.

Yes, dads change diapers: why this degrading story needs to disappear from Huggies’ website

As dads continue to strive for equality in parenting, modern day media persists in poking fun at the so-called incompetency of bumbling fathers. We’re not talking about 1983’s “Mr. Mom,” but far more recent works.

You may recall that in 2012, Huggies started a marketing campaign titled, “Have Dad Put Huggies To The Test.” The series of ads portrayed dads as inattentive caregivers, and thus, propagated old-fashioned stereotypes. Huggies received a heavy dose of backlash from dads, who shared their disappointment over the ads.huggies7.png

The marketers at its parent company, Kimberly-Clark, were forced 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. Social media fervor grew – Huggies learned a quick lesson the hard way and swiftly pulled the ads.

Despite all the profuse and warranted apologizing that followed, Huggies didn’t seem to learn from its unfortunate experience. To this day, its website still contains maintains a “Mommy Answers” page with no comparable dad counterpart. Huggies print ads also continue to speak only to mom by name, and there’s gender biased language on its site throughout.

Yet, one of its worst jabs is even more recent – which harkens to its “dad test” campaign – and you can find it live at huggies.com.

There you’ll find an article offering the unabashed advice, “4 Ways to Get Dad to Do Diapers.”

It’s almost unthinkable to believe a headline like this could exist anywhere, but it does. Imagine seeing a story titled, “4 Ways to Get Dads to Cook,” if you’re looking for a comparable headline that would too cause an uproar.

Like so many other “parent/baby” companies, Huggies will claim to speak to both moms and dads. Huggies has even taken steps to sponsor the At-Home Dads Convention, donate diapers to the National Fatherhood Conference, and has an ongoing relationship with the City Dads Group – all noble and noteworthy causes.

Between Huggies’ generous donations and disparaging story – it creates a strong disconnect we can’t ignore.

Huggies’ lack to change its marketing strategy towards dads and genuinely embrace them as valuable shoppers is an example of how respect for dads seems to continue to take a massive backseat to the unwarranted stigma about dads.

Gender equality can never be achieved without dropping the sly innuendo that degrades and belittles the institution of fatherhood.

Right about now, dads could use a hug. What do you say, Huggies?

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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Do you say ‘my kids’ or ‘our kids’? The difference is big

For those of you who have children:  when you talk about your kids to others, do you refer to them as “my kids” or “our kids”?noodleandboo1

It’s a major difference, and that distinction of one word says a lot.  The former connotes a more possessive or singular approach, whereas the latter sends a signal of togetherness and unity.  If you use the “my” term, it may seem harmless and might be completely unintentional, but it conveys a certain message – like it or not – to others and to your partner.

Take a look at Noodle & Boo, makers of luxurious baby and pregnancy skin care.  The product is found at high-end retailers, coveted by Hollywood stars, and it generally adheres to an impressive and upstanding company mission statement while supporting several charitable causes.

Now check out its latest ad, where it mentions “Only the best will do for her baby,” and the “first 100 mamas to follow @noodleandboollc and tag #mamaprofile with your favorite photo of you and baby…”

Isn’t the baby his, too?noodleandboo2

noodleandboo3Don’t dads use social media?

We can’t deny that some products and ads are marketed toward a certain gender, especially pregnancy skin care.  However, this ad was printed in a parents magazine.  And this particular product line it’s selling in this ad – it’s for babies.  That child is to be raised by parents, which includes dads.  No marketing piece should ever exclude dads and make them to be the lesser parent, as if they don’t matter.  Using the word “parent” instead of “mama” won’t make or break the business model, and it won’t make a female look away in disgust.

But it will make a dad feel included, feel like he matters to a company, and will make him take notice.

Believe us when we say dads notice.  Take a look on social media to find all the dads fully engaged in marketing messages and how they’re portrayed by retailers.  Old Navy, Huggies, Jif, Amazon – these are just a few of the companies that have been singled out by dads through viral campaigns to get them to change their ways.

It’s disappointing to see the exclusion in word choice and via advertisement photos, but that practice continues at its website, where a dad is nearly non-existent – save for a few celebrity dads it uses to sell its line of products.

When it comes to parenting, let’s hope Noodle & Boo acknowledges all the dads out there, because with Noodle & Boo, only the best will do, and dads count too.