One of These Things is Not Like the Other: How Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are Treated Differently in Advertising

In basic form, the cherished holidays of Mother’s and Father’s Day are quite similar. Each intends to honor mom and dad through a celebration of the parental bond, offer tribute to relevant roles in the family and give thanks for the gift of life.

In advertising, however, things play out different. Companies tend to market each holiday with much disparity. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

For Mother’s Day, buybuy Baby highlighted a unique promotion titled, “Mompreneurs,” which showcased several mom-owned brands. For its Father’s Day messaging, there was no mention of Dadpreneurs, let alone dads – only a sale related to baby showers.

NUK offered a wonderful message for Mother’s Day. For Father’s Day, its advertising cupboard was bare.

Similarly, Huggies offered a cute note to moms yet nothing for dads. This was consistent with its social media messaging, which left some parents scratching their heads in June.

Little Debbie had similar holiday ads, but you’ll note subtle differences. One encouraged customers to celebrate moms through its display of a nurturing image. The other assured that dads love to eat sweets, and did not share any comparable photos.

Owlet took an approach often used on Mother’s Day. Namely, moms need rest. However, that same tactic wasn’t applied on Father’s Day. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find that notion used by anyone on Father’s Day. This is a conundrum, of course – what dad doesn’t need sleep, too?

Healthy Family Project offered some fantastic brunch recipes and ideas for Mother’s Day. But for dads, not one speck of food was left in the email, not even a crumb too small for a mouse.

Munchkin ads are a curious lot. It’s easy to infer they were written by females when you analyze the wording. The dad ad spoke directly to moms: “Get the new father figure a gift he’ll love.” But on Mother’s Day it doesn’t work the other way around. Instead, it also speaks to moms: “Mama, you deserve the best.” Copy writers might consider the voice when crafting ads. After all, what would motivate a father to purchase a product when they’re not being spoken to in the first place?

Papa Johns used that voice more effectively. Both ads spoke to either gender, or kids, or both. You also didn’t see pink, blue or any gender specific color. Its noble approach didn’t ignore, judge, or label. Of course, Papa Johns could have played up its gender specific name but didn’t need to. Well done, Papa.

Premama made a thoughtful attempt to console during what are difficult holidays for some. But both ads, like Munchkin, were directed at females. Imagine how much more connected fathers might have felt to a company that excludes in name but offers more to men than meets the eye.

Canvas Champ offered fun, eye-catching images which both portrayed nurturing. However, it forgot three important words: Happy Father’s Day.

Advertising Equality Matters

Changing the way we view, treat, and market to dads is necessary because there is a lot at stake. Dads represent half the parenting population. That equates to a significant loss of revenue, and profit, for companies and businesses not catering to the dad demographic. Also at risk is the image of dads as parents for this and future generation of boys and girls who will eventually become parents and potential consumers themselves.

A critical look at how the media shapes our opinions through these holidays should encourage us to change the way we think about, view and treat dads.


Equivalent holidays deserve equal treats

It’s great to see a heart-warming promotion and holiday-specific foods like the ones snack maker Little Debbie recently unveiled.

Moms deserve it.


But you can’t help but wonder – will dads get their due come June?

There hasn’t been a snack cake devoted to dads in the history of fatherhood. A quick Internet search for “dad cakes” results in a lot of beer-themed versions, neckties and tools.

There’s a lot more to fatherhood than that.

Little Debbie has a golden opportunity to set the trend for a promotion with incredible potential by doing it right. What dad would turn down a box of sweet treats he could share with his kids? There’s no better way to celebrate fatherhood than with a gift designed to honor dad and the kids who made him one.

As Little Debbie says, it’s time to pamper dad and offer him a prize that will ease the load of his to-do list.


A dad is a nurturer, protector, provider, teacher, friend, spiritual guide, role model, mentor, disciplinarian, advisor and cheerleader. Let’s see if they can incorporate all that into a treat and promotion that would garner attention nationally.

Dad deserves better than beer cakes and neckties.

So does his sweet tooth.

Do dads help in the morning? One baker doesn’t think so

No matter what dads do, they can’t seem to convince the makers of breakfast food items that dads are active, engaged and present during the morning routine.littledebbie.jpg

Numerous products regularly insist that dad doesn’t buy cereal, he can’t microwave a breakfast burrito, or simply can’t choose the proper peanut butter.

And now, there’s another product that’s joined the morning exclusion bandwagon, one which marks those authentic, crazy morning rituals – just apparently not endured by dads.

Little Debbie has unveiled its Moms of 7 AM campaign, which seemingly discounts dads as equal, competent parents.

Of course, we have a problem with this approach.  By positioning its product around a facet of daily life we all endure and is not exclusive to any gender – the morning ritual – and claiming it to be mom’s domain, Little Debbie is ignoring a lot of grocery shopping, caretaking (working and stay-at-home) dads everywhere.  It’s a practice that’s particularly hard to believe for a company that proudly claims to be “a family bakery.”

littledebbie2.jpgOf course, families include dads, and its own founder, O.D. McKee, sounds like he was a seemingly a good dad in his own right, naming the brand after his own granddaughter.  It even uses a manthe Muffin Man – to promote its own products.

What’s also disappointing is how its ad firm, the great Luckie & Co., managed to only conduct extensive quantitative and qualitative research with moms – then claimed to finally get to the heart of what makes 7 a.m. a special time in households across America.  How could this conclusion have been reached without consulting dads?

littledebbie4.pngWe’ll contend that in most homes, dad plays an important, pivotal role in the life of a family – even during the morning routine.

It wouldn’t take much for Little Debbie to rename its campaign “Parents of 7 AM,” just like it hasn’t taken much to turn off dads with this exclusionary promo.

There’s plenty of other snack cakes to choose from, so let’s hope Little Debbie – a family bakery – makes a quick switch before dads quickly switch to another brand.