Don’t formula makers realize that dads feed babies, too?

No matter how often we view it, it’s always a surprise to see formula makers ignore dads as equal parents. Dads can’t physically breastfeed, but they certainly can formula feed. And they buy formula. A lot of it.

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As such, one would think dads should be huge targets for laser-focused marketing that capitalizes on the influence of fathers and formula feeding. Dads could be the primary ambassadors for a product that formula makers could woo in order to assist them in promoting healthy formula feeding.

Nope. Almost every formula manufacturer still disregards dads as parents who feed babies. Take a look at the site revamp of Enfamil, where you’ll find a bit of irony on its Better Together page.

First, it exclaims: “The world outside is full of things that divide us.” Yep, things like websites — and marketing campaigns, hashtags, imagery and menu tabs. In fact, there isn’t much to find that’s inviting on its site for fathers looking for content about the products they’re using to feed their children.

Second, it indicates that “…we are raising the next generation of extraordinary men and women.” Also true. But these eventual extraordinary men will be disregarded upon becoming dads by the very company that celebrates them.

Third, it speaks of “uniting” throughout its website. Um, right. Most of it looks like a divide. Dads are creating, expecting, growing, feeding and nurturing babies every bit as moms, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at the Enfamil site.

Perhaps Enfamil could invite some of its paying customers to talk about their experiences as parents.

Enfamil won’t have to look far. Those customers are the same ones who get up in the night and take on feedings whenever needed. They’re the ones who read nutrition labels and care about exactly what they’re feeding their children. They’re the ones who want support and want to share it. They’re the ones who work at a job that helps to pay for the formula.

They’re dads.

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Marketing innovation starts with acknowledging the modern world

Company evolution and innovation is the hallmark of any successful operation, but such progress is muffled when weighed down by a tagline that harkens to a bygone era. While companies create slogans to market their products, many remain convinced that dads haven’t changed, and so the simple solution is to keep the communication the same. dadcooks.jpg

The message never changes.

Therein lies the problem: society has changed and today’s dad is an involved consumer like never before. More importantly, he’s an active parent. With that brings a vocational conviction that stretches beyond serving merely as a breadwinner and secondary parent. Dad is an equal family player and meaningful parent in every way, shape, form and instinct – every bit as mom.

As a result, the consequences of ignoring dad as an equal and competent parent are catching up to the corporate world. While competitors offer new brands that speak to evolving and discriminating purchasers, companies are realizing that they cannot rest on the laurels of past success and generations of loyal customers. Customers are changing, both in terms of age and demographics. It’s clearly a different ballgame now, and a failure to keep up with today’s modern parenting realm means a loss of precious revenue and market share.

There are also unintended negative effects on the matron targets of current corporate campaigns. The harm here is that it places unwanted pressure on mom, who of course is now increasingly found in the workforce. No, she doesn’t want to have to place her stamp of approval on everything. She doesn’t want to be the sole decision-maker, nor does she want to be forced into the habit of thinking that becoming a better mom involves choosing the proper peanut butter.

While the 1950s mom ran the household almost entirely alone as dad provided the monetary support, the world is different now. Today, mom has a balanced counterpart in the parental world. Neither is in the lead or usurps the other.

This person, of course, is dad.

Another consequence of ignoring dad in marketing is not only the degradation of fatherhood, but also motherhood and parenthood. Continuing to portray dads as incompetent shoppers, substitute parents for moms, or part-time sidekicks is an insult to moms. It questions the mom’s choice she made to become a professional woman. It’s she who desires to focus on providing the best for her family and reach her utmost career potential instead of staying at home with the kids. It also belittles her decision to marry the man she chose to be her husband and father of their children. No matter how you add it up, the commutative law of addition still yields the same result. Motherhood + fatherhood or fatherhood + motherhood – both equal parenthood.

The good news is company and marketing executives have the power to change how they view dads as parents, as well as consumers of products and services. Even better news is that dads continue to be an evolving and growing target market.

An open letter to dads – the problem with influencer marketing

Back in the spring – March 7 to be exact – National Cereal Day was celebrated from sea to shining sea.

OK, that’s exaggerating. Our entire nation didn’t honor it. It was largely done so by Twitter users. And it’s not really National Cereal Day, it’s more like #NationalCerealDay.

These aren’t real holidays – they’re hollowdays – they’re empty, there’s not much to them. They’re days often set up by marketers to help sell industries or products, and they’re primarily celebrated only on social media. If your workplace, school, or home isn’t really celebrating and you’re spending more time tweeting about it than actually observing it, then it’s a hollowday.kix9.jpg

Still, they serve a purpose and can be a lot of fun on social media. We sometimes join in the fun ourselves. And while this obscure cereal occasion was celebrated, we noticed a disturbing trend: dads advertising for companies like General Mills and Kellogg’s, companies who have a regular history of ignoring fathers through slogans, general marketing and even on cereal boxes.

So why would dads plug a company that doesn’t place value in them?

Who’s an influencer?

Influencer marketing can be powerful and it certainly has its place. We all know how it works: companies identify individual “influential” people – rather than a certain market – and intentionally use those people by controlling the content of their blog stories, testimonials, social media posts and photos.frostedminiwheats2.jpg

These companies are asking those people to purposely write about a brand in order to exert influence over possible buyers. Along the way those influencers gain income, kickbacks and plenty of attention – that is, adulation in the form of likes/follows. It’s true that all of it can result in an inflated ego, but welcome to the world of influencers.

Is influencing always what it seems?

At the same time, influencer marketing can also offer deceit. It’s common practice for influencers (though, not all) to buy followers that represent bots to make profiles appear more impressive. Most people don’t buy it, but interestingly, a lot of companies overlook it all in the name of numbers.

Some influencers have real followers and they worked hard to gain every one of them. So, it’s easy to see that dad bloggers have sway more than ever before, but with great power comes great responsibility.

If dads want to be recognized as fully competent parents and equal to their parental counterparts in the world of influencing, spending, retail and commerce, know this: they’re contributing to the problem.

Dads can’t be supporting dad-unfriendly companies in the name of freebies, likes, media attention, more followers, or even in the name of fun. That’s called selling out.cheerios.jpg

If you’re a dad helping to promote, say, General Mills, have you thought about what you’re helping to endorse? Some of its brands, for example, continue to ignore and discount you with exclusionary messages and slogans stamped on the front of every box.

So when you plug these companies, you’re offering a stamp of approval to what they do – and that’s wrong.

Self-respect is key

If men truly want to be valued as prime influencers and be treated equally everywhere they go online and in person — schools, doctor offices and even by the children in their own homes — it’s time to speak up and take a stand.quakeroats3.jpg

All of those goodies, swag and likes aren’t worth it if they’re feeding the monster. Those companies who disregard fatherhood will continue to get away with exclusion and won’t value true purchasing and parental power if influencers give in.

Being an influencer carries weight, and if dads really want to influence someone, stand up and speak out. Tell them that not all parents are moms. Tell them that you matter as a parent and a customer. Hollowdays aren’t worth it.

 

Properly reaching dads means using the right photos

Just as words are so crucial to showcasing the active role of today’s dads as true and competent parents in advertisements, so are images – and realistic images say it best. Smart brands should keep in mind authentic representations of dads in marketing. It’s true that those images of dads fishing, hunting, and working on cars are all fair and accurate, but so are those of dads cooking, shopping, and picking kids up from school.dadhug2.jpg

Even better images might be those of dad nurturing, holding, hugging, cuddling, and kissing – all semblances that portray relevance and authenticity of genuine, loving fatherhood. The latter are not just likenesses of what dads should become, nor do they represent a minority of dedicated dads – this is fatherhood today. It’s alive and well in every community around us.

The modern father views himself as skilled and devoted to his household in every facet of family life. He’s not trying to replace mom in the way society perceived him and labeled him as “Mr. Mom.” He is dad and equal parent. He identifies as a parent in the same way a mom does – sympathetic, caring, and wants to have stronger, intimate relationships with his children far more than the stoic, unresponsive dads portrayed in the media.

When marketers demonstrate these emotional bonds and challenges with parenting, it makes instant connections with customers. The need to reach a certain segment must be efficient.

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.

Start spreading the news

Ever since Dad Marketing was founded, we’ve always preached that it’s both the mom and dad who are expecting, not just mom. newyorkbabyshow2.jpg

That might sound strange to some, not just because it’s women who physically carry children, but it’s also because of the way media and marketing shape our thoughts. They’ve conditioned us via advertising imagery and word choice that moms are primary parents:

“More Moms choose the Similac Brand.”
“Thank You Mom by P&G.”
“Moms around the world trust Johnson’s to safely care for their babies.
“See what Moms are saying about the Gerber Grow-Up Plan.”

These words are prominent messages in the public eye telling us that moms are the full-time parents, and dad is merely a part-time helper, at best.

newyorkbabyshow.pngAnd yet, every so often we encounter an organization who Gets It, who realizes that dads matter every bit to the parenting world as moms – and the idea speaks to dads, and markets to them, and listens to them. Suddenly, dads matter and are valued as true parents and customers.

We offer our highest Seal of Approval to the New York Baby Show, who fully acknowledges dads as equal parents. There they exclaim that “parents” are expecting, not just mom.

Keep up the good work New York Baby Show. People notice your inclusion, and someday, everyone will want to be a part of it.