Can’t dads put sunscreen on kids?

aveenobaby2It’s ironic how there are some who admonish dads for their lack of parental involvement, and some who spend their time furthering that notion through advertising.

Take, for instance, this parent magazine ad for Aveeno Baby, produced by a company who believes that it’s only mom’s duty to handle a child’s skin protection.  That company may argue that “market research indicates…” or “readers prefer…” or “our focus groups suggest…” – but the fact is that it’s furthering a perception which is unfair, sexist and wrong.

Dads shop.  Dads parent.  Dads care.  And, well, dads apply sunscreen.

If you aren’t bothered by this chauvinistic ad, you should be for more reasons than one.  Not only does it disregard and intentionally exclude dads, it also uses the image of a boy to sell its product, the very product that will one day ignore this same boy should he become a father someday.  Spouses, too, should be bothered by this gender annexation:  that person they’re ignoring is your partner, your equal, your helpmate in this adventure called parenting.

Interestingly, last week we received a note from @KnowYourObama, who said, “Marketers don’t market to dads as parents because, mostly, they’re not.”

There’s no telling why this person believe this, but we wanted to chat a little more, and the following brief conversation ensued:

@dad_marketing:  “I think you might have offended Obama, plus a lot of other dedicated dads.”

@KnowYourObama:  “Obama’s a good dad, yes. But good dads – dads – are hard to find. Yay for the good ones.”

Here at DM Headquarters, we have no hard data to prove that there are more dedicated dads than uninvolved dads, but there should at least be some protection against libel, or perhaps some rules which guide what marketers can or can’t say.aveenobaby

Marketing departments have been saying or doing whatever they wanted for years, sometimes with little adaptation for societal changes – all in the pursuit of the almighty dollar.  It takes some real honorable companies to take a stand and do what is right and not just offer lip service (check out Jif-maker Smucker’s, and its “promise” page).

And who – you might ask – makes Aveeno Baby lotion?  None other than Johnson & Johnson, who has a history of waffling on gender equality.

To quote a word from Aveeno’s own ad, parents (dads included) have “trusted” Aveeno Baby and Johnson & Johnson for years.  When will that trust be returned?

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Would you tattoo Gerber on your arm?

Sure, this 2006 ad (featured) is a little old, but it’s BDM (before dadmarketing), so we feel it’s worth a little attention here today.harley

There’s something to be learned from the magnificence of Harley-Davidson’s marketing team. It’s difficult to name another brand where its customers are willing to permanently etch its logo on their bodies.

The ultra-cool aura of a Harley has moved beyond its outlaw biker days and found its place among a variety of customers – both genders included – that seek a certain image and freedom.

When you buy a Harley, you’re not really buying a motorcycle, you’re buying a lifestyle.

This featured ad proves that a classic, established brand steeped in tradition is willing to go non-traditional when marketing its product to customers.

You don’t have to overanalyze the ad – it speaks for itself in simplistic terms. No, that’s not just a man in the photo, it’s a dad! And a baby stroller? Whoa, would Johnson & Johnson, or Boppy, or Desitin, or Similac, et al, even dare consider putting anyone other than a mother in control of stroller wheels in one of its ads? Hardly, as those marketers can’t move beyond the fact that mothers have no more instinctive ability to care for children than fathers, yet their ads hardly reflect that fact.

Check out Juicy Juice’s “Moms Knows Best” promo it just unveiled today, a mere two days before Father’s Day.  Talk about a slap in the face to dads everywhere.

Whether you’re a parent or not, a male or female, it’s hard not to smile at the genius of Harley’s ad. Sure, this ad targets guys first, but Harley has no stereotypical customer.

It’s this kind of thinking that has made Harley-Davidson what it is today, and why so many other businesses should have that same mindset, rather than not speaking to dads when it comes to the big bucks it spends on marketing.

Nice work, Harley-Davidson, and keep on ridin.’

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.

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.

This is weird: a dad can buy Desitin at Amazon Mom

Johnson & Johnson, makers of Desitin, is at it again.

It puts dads in a box, seeing dads as the way it has always seen them, no matter how much times have changed.desitin2

You’ll find its latest ad and subsequent slogan, #1 with Pediatricians and Moms, is repeated twice on its latest two-page spread, featured where else but American Baby magazine, as well as highly visible at the top of its website — with its own separate “seal of approval” logo to boot.

And dads?

Completely nonexistent, from the print ad and all the way through every single web page at desitin.com.

Even though J&J/Desitin totally ignores dads, I still find it slightly odd that – through applying the troubling “dads don’t know how to handle babies” approach – it wouldn’t even seize that as an opportunity to highlight at least one dad on its website.

After all, with menu tabs like, “What is Diaper Rash?” and “Identifying Diaper Rash,” and having an only-moms-care-for-kids approach combined with a boxed-in, close-minded attitude toward fathers, you’d think Desitin would take the opportunity to feature that other, less involved “assistant” parent – you know, dads.

desitin4

Screen shot from desitin.com

We offered a review of a similar Desitin ad 9 months ago, and now here we are today, and it’s the same problem.

Isn’t that how some define insanity: continuing to do the same thing but expecting to get different results?desitin3

Good marketers can let go of the past and move on to a new future, growing the brand and branching out into other market segments.

Look at this past Super Bowl to see how much big-time marketing departments value fathers.

But doing the same thing over again results in a stagnant approach.  It may not translate directly into sagging sales today, but over time, and generations, it’s a surefire way to kill a brand.

Is J&J/Desitin up to the task?

Only time will tell.

But if it is, I suspect like diaper cream, it would see instant results.

The Grinch who stole Father’s Day

No matter how long we live, we all have this same statistic in common: we got to spend (roughly) nine months being held exclusively by our mothers. Life expectancy aside, and speaking solely in general terms, mothers will have always had at least nine more months than fathers to hold their children.

During pregnancy, of course, fathers have the chance to touch the belly, but there’s a barrier in the way. Fathers can experience a baby kick, but the sensation for the mother and child are one and the same. Fathers can talk and sing to the infant inside the mother’s womb, but babies not johnson&johnsononly hear the mother’s voice – they feel it.

I once heard a woman tell the story how their child died upon birth. She asked the nurses to let the dad, not her, be the first to hold their child, because he naturally never got to during the pregnancy. Besides, it was the first, only, and last time he would embrace their child all in the same instance.

Mothers have the exclusive, honored gift of carrying children. That’s special. That creates a bond with every child that doesn’t make it more superior than with a father, just unique.

And it should be treated with uniqueness, even in marketing.

However, Johnson & Johnson’s latest ad artlessly exudes and radiates exclusion. It doesn’t take a deep thinker to see that dads, plain and simple, are crudely left out of this marketing message. What’s more, the advertisement is ironically straight out of the June 2014 Parents magazine, which includes a special reading section specifically for dads, timed knowingly for Father’s Day.

That’s some holiday present from Johnson & Johnson, huh dads? A sucker punch below the belt, followed by a kick in the teeth, finished off with salt in the wounds.

I expected more from this company so synonymous with baby care. No head-to-toe wash around is going to clean up this mess.