Which insurance company has dads in good hands?

If the basic definition of marketing is “to promote something in order to sell,” then there’s no question as to whom each insurance company presented here is trying to speak.gerber2

One featured ad is actually a direct mail piece from Gerber Life Insurance Company, who for years has been regularly sending this mailer with “See what Moms are saying about…” printed right on the front. And if you’re a dad who has been surprised to receive this in the mail, that’s not the only the only thing Gerber has jumbled; scroll about one-third down here to see another way this piece misfires.

allstate1The other featured is a display ad from Allstate found in the July 2015 American Baby magazine (click to enlarge). It not only addresses all of its potential customers by using the word “families,” but it includes a photo of a family where dad is holding the baby.

So, if you’re a dad and in the market for insurance, or even a college savings plan, where are you more likely to turn? To whom is Gerber and Allstate trying to “promote something in order to sell?”

Allstate’s approach is a positive one. Companies so often follow the supposedly “safe” marketing path, misbelieving that mom is the primary household decision-maker. Allstate knows that the days of “mom-stays-at-home, dad-goes-to-work” are ancient history. Indeed, caring for the family is a responsibility handled by both mom and dad.

Gerber, on the other hand, doesn’t want to change. Keeping an iconic, recognizable logo is a wise marketing move, but ignoring potential customers isn’t. Neither is having a college savings plan that gets dubious reviews.

Ever since our first post about Gerber in January 2014 (and again later in October), it began blocking us on Twitter. It’s the only company we’ve written about who has done so, proving that in Gerber’s world, communication is a one-way street.

Allstate, on the other hand, has won dads over. Dads are in good hands, indeed.

A fine ad, but what’s with Walmart Moms?

mixedsignalsIf you’ve been following this website since the beginning, you know we’ve focused on a variety of ways in which dads are portrayed in marketing, advertising and media.

We’ve featured companies, media channels, sports, entertainment avenues, service organizations, as well as some general ideas of our own.

When it comes to the products we buy and consume every day, it is the retailers who exert immense power. Their prices affect our overall budget. They decide what’s on sale. They decide where it’s placed in the store. They shape our buying habits, and often turn items that “I want” into “I need.”

The retailer at the top of the list, of course, is none other than Walmart. With 4,779 stores nationwide, it’s responsible for $482 billion in annual sales, and no other store comes even close.

When we wrote about Walmart on January 7, we were disappointed by an ad featured in the October 2014 American Baby magazine.

walmart2But now, almost one full year after that magazine ad we discover a change in Walmart’s ways with an advertisement so impressive (featured left), it will no doubt get everyone’s attention in the retailing world. Hopefully it will turn heads and change the way others operate and market their products and services.

Check out this list of the top retailers from last year.  If you’re reading this Kroger, Costco, Target, Home Depot, et al, your friends at Walmart have officially raised the bar.

That doesn’t mean, however, that Walmart is officially the leader in dad-friendly marketing. This ad was a hit, but another part of its portfolio is a clear miss.

That’s because it still insists on offering “Walmart Moms,” a practice that wouldn’t seem so sexist if it offered a dadly counterpart. The old fashioned use of this biased name fosters the misbelief that mom is the lead parent, and dad is merely an assistant.

We call for an end to this chauvinist exercise by renaming the program “Walmart Parents.”

What do you say Walmart?

walmart5Walmart’s approach shows that it’s at odds with its own self. By offering a fantastic ad showing dad in a positive light as an involved parent, and then disregarding dad’s parental abilities through the exclusionary Walmart Mom program, it’s sending mixed signals to dads everywhere.

We’ve debunked the moms are the lead shoppers fallacy so many times over it’s hardly worth doing again, so we’ll let another group do it.

Again, Walmart here offers one quality ad and a fantastic step in the right direction. But as for Walmart Mom, it reminds us of another dad exclusionary marketing campaign that’s taken a beating this year.

Perhaps it’s time for Walmart to be proactive (like the Today Show), rather than reactive, and let dads know that they matter as consumers.

Curing the case of an upset stomach

tummycalm2We came across an interesting approach from Tummy Calm, who at one point was trying to play the “only-moms-take-care-of-kids” card.

Tummy Calm, distributed by TJL Enterprises of Long Beach, CA, is gas relief medicine for children.

The attached graphic appears in its tri-fold brochure, which judging by the tiny print, looks to have been produced in March 2015. (We can’t confirm this for certain, but it seems like a plausible deduction.)

However, over on the front page of its website, we find the word “mommy” removed.

The change is a positive one, as it should come as no surprise (it’s 2015, after all) that a website is a company’s primary communication piece.

But what’s with the sudden change?

Is the brochure targeting a certain segment? That’s conceivable. We came across this piece in a doctor’s office, and we all know that marketers don’t seem to believe that dads can actually transport children to appointments. Either that, or they believe that moms simply adore tri-fold brochures. Or, dads can’t read.

Is it a case of disjointed marketing-speak? That’s always possible. It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve noticed varying approaches – depending on the medium – by products marketed to children.

Could it be that the company is just being inconsistent, and simply forgot to use the word “Mommy” on the website? That’s less probable, especially since there’s unlimited space on the Internet, unlike tri-fold brochures.

Or, did TJL wise up in recent months after reading the latest news at dadmarketing.com?

If so, hats off to a marketing team that stopped exclusionary marketing dead in its tracks and recognized fathers for the work they do.

Keep an eye out for that newly revised brochure at a doctor’s office near you.

Welcome to the ‘hood

similac9Overly drenched in heaping layers of crippling irony is the headline from Similac’s latest display ad (right) which preaches, “There’s no ‘one-formula-fits-all’ for babies, or for parenting, either.”

Calling this marketing-speak odd would be an injustice to the word odd, instantly giving it a meaning never originally intended. It might just make something we all currently agree upon as odd, say, Miley Cyrus’ antics, seem almost girl-next-door normal.

Thus, we here at dadmarketing can’t call this latest advertisement odd. Rather, Similac’s ad proclamation is off-the-charts anomalous.

Here’s why: Similac, by way of its marketing message, slogan and ad copy (below), is saying that only moms are parents, yet its headline (above) tries to tell us something otherwise.

Again, did you notice the slogan from which it can’t seem to let go? “Welcome to the Sisterhood of Motherhood”? There’s nary a dad in the universe who can relate to that, and we’re talking about a product called baby formula, not breastfeeding, nor a feminine item. Dads should be every formula makers’ dream, a sure-fire built-in customer for life, but Similac doesn’t seem to want it that way.

Abbott, makers of Similac, has been touting this exclusionary “Sisterhood/Motherhood” slogan for several months now, and by it saying “there’s no one-parenting-fits all,” it sure seems to want it both ways: mild use of the word “parent” hidden behind its unilateral, sexist slogan.

Besides, check out the exhortation at the end of the ad: why would dads even bother taking Similac up on its invitation to visit Facebook?similac10

Dads aren’t moms!

It’s time to give this old-fashioned slogan a rest, and for Similac to consider that dads just might be part of its customer base, too. It’s no fun for dads to get ignored month after month. It’s campaign preaches a non-judgmental approach, but it has judged dads loud and clear:  they don’t count.

When it comes to taking care of babies, it’s not just a motherhood. It’s also a fatherhood.

And above all, it’s called parenthood.

Is that a dad in a breastfeeding ad?

lansinoh1Check out this stellar ad from Lansinoh, makers of breastfeeding products and accessories. It features words like “breastfed” and “nipple” and “breast,” yet boldly places at dad at the center of its full page magazine ad.

That’s powerful. That’s wonderful. That’s making dads feel like involved parents!

But then, the company does a strange about face on its website – lansinoh.com – where it decides to bury dad’s importance down below on its home page. If it truly believes that dad is “critical to (the baby’s nursing) success,” as its website states, then why is dad minimized so greatly online?

How about a Lansinoh Dads’ Club?

Why not publish an article titled, “8 Benefits to Dads for Breastfeeding Moms”?

How about more photos of dads on its website (they’re hard to find) – and prominently feature them – like the dad in the magazine ad?

How about have a special dads-only section, which might dig deeper into a dad’s involvement with breastfeeding? Or have a different guest dad blogger featured every so often?

How about simply show the word “dad” more?

The magazine ad was so incredibly fantastic because it proved it can utilize fathers in an advertisement about breastfeeding products, and we were ready to give Lansinoh the highest dadmarketing Seal of Approval™, but then Lansinoh changed its tune online.

Oh. So. Close.

Let’s hope Lansinoh’s marketing professionals can get on the same page and mimic a magazine ad that’s beyond sensational, and thus lead the market among those companies insisting upon total parental inclusion.

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.’

Marketing to both parents, at its finest

It would be pretty easy for the marketing team at Cord Blood Registry to feature only a mom in its latest magazine ad. Dads can do anything for a child that a mom can do, except give birth and naturally breastfeed.cbr

So, yes indeed, that umbilical cord is unmistakably a mom-child connection.

However, marketers often like to turn that precious link into some sort of divide, and use it as validation to justify its belief that moms have a stronger bond with children which dads can never match.

Nothing could be more untrue.

We’re here to tell you that moms and dads are equals. The parent-child bond isn’t meant to be something that moms dominate, or hold deeper. Mothers enjoy the absolute honored gift of carrying children – and that’s special. It 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.

Dads and moms are different people, and can parent different, but dads are full, rightful owners of the parental bond every bit as moms. That’s a wonderful thing!

CBR says that too, and it even references the umbilical cord, in its latest powerful ad.

Something as important as cord blood banking deserves marketing treatment without any missteps or miscues, and CBR delivers the goods in pictures and words.

The rest of America would do well to learn from CBR’s fabulous marketing team, who confirms that parenting involves both moms and dads equally.

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.

Dads have a fever, and the only prescription is a new thermometer

Somebody may want to tell the marketing team at Exergen that there’s something unique about its product which it clearly didn’t realize before sending out its latest rebate offer via email: dads can use thermometers, too.exergen

I know, I know, this may seem hard to believe. We all know there’s certain things each gender can’t do: women don’t know how to use power tools; men can’t become nurses; women can’t play sports; men can’t cook.

But we’re here to say that despite these gender inadequacies, it’s entirely plausible that dads may be able to hold an instrument – and a baby! – and measure its fever. Why? Because they care. Because they count. Because they’re parents, too.

You’ll have to forgive us for our heavy dose of cynicism, but we’re living in a world where companies are spending so much money on making its creation the absolutely best it can be (or as Exergen puts it, “changing the way the world takes temperature”), and remaining so wrapped up in product development, that they tend to overlook one key component: to whom they’re selling.

exergen2That a classic marketing misstep, because there are a lot of thermometer companies out there. Perhaps Exergen offers the world’s finest thermometer that will ever be made, and no other product on the market can compare.

But if it isn’t speaking to dads, they why would the “other half” of its customer base listen?

Spilled juice

juicyjuice

What do you get when you cross two perpetual so-called “mom” territories: juice boxes and snack time? You get yet another dad exclusionary, old school approach to marketing from none other than Juicy Juice.

We’ve seen this juice box predicament before.

But this time it seems to hurt a bit more, as Juicy Juice is a relatively newer product (when compared to, say, other stodgy brands), and Juicy Juice even professes to have ads that have “changed over the years.” Note that it didn’t say changed for the better.

Another sad aspect is that this is another company who apparently likes to negate dads and all the fun they provide at snack time. We personally know many dads who love snack time, and have even given names to the creations they make for their kids: Quesa-daddies, Daddy Cheesy Melters, Sugar Daddies, Father Son Buns.

Those sound like some fun creations! Who knows how many untold, unrecognized culinary dads out there are shaping their kids into fantastic human beings one snack at a time?

Juicy Juice provides another bit of smack-in-the-face irony when it exclaims on its website: “One of the greatest gifts of parenthood is being able to relive those wonderful experiences with your child. That spirit inspires every product we make.”

Apparently, that spirit is only being doled out only to mothers and turning its back on dads.

Give it another try, Juicy Juice – dads are listening.