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.

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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.

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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.

Hey Vudu, just cancel the sexist reboot no one asked for

There’s been a lot of talk about the “Mr. Mom” reboot on Walmart-owned streaming service Vudu.

Most of it has been centered upon this being Vudu’s first original series.

There’s also a bit of buzz about its need – as in, no one really asked for it.

Julian Franco, Vudu senior director, insists the remake centers upon nostalgia.

“As parents, we want to share with kids the TV shows and movies that we grew up with,” he said to Variety.

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There’s just a few problems with that kind of nostalgia. Namely, it’s sexist – pure and simple.

Look back at the 1983 version and you’ll find a rather simple, primary plot: the dad was a stay-at-home parent. That was it.

It offered laughs for a generation of parents who cheered at the ultimate family role reversal. Switching mom’s and dad’s jobs made for instant comic fodder, especially after decades of expected social norms.

But even by 1983 standards, those roles had already been transforming for years. It’s not like mom wasn’t already working outside the home. She was, and stay-at-home dads were already a thing, though admittedly less common.

And yet as successful as “Mr. Mom” was for its time, it bears mentioning that there was never a sequel, the go-to bread-and-butter for any Hollywood studio executive.

Fast forward 36 years later and you find a world where parenting roles are blurred, and a marketing/media industry that clearly hasn’t caught up with the times.

Then there’s that title.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a term more offensive to dads. After all, they’re not moms – they’re dads – and there’s nothing emasculating about working inside the home and taking care of children.

It’s called parenting.

For years, dads have been unfairly mislabeled Mr. Mom – a name that’s not only insulting, but erroneous. Would anyone dare call a working mother, Mrs. Dad? Moms don’t exactly find that term endearing, either; it’s not their job to cook, clean and tend to the kids.

And yet studio executives pass off this as nostalgia, or comedy – or whatever.

It’s no joke watching a dad care for his children. Imagine a show that laughs at moms trying to make it in the corporate world. Or work on cars. Or play sports.

It wouldn’t happen because they can do those things. The parenting community has matured and evolved. Hollywood, to a certain extent, has too.

Damsel-in-distress movies have gone by the wayside because they’re old-fashioned and passé. Today’s audiences want to see “Wonder Woman,” “Captain Marvel,” or Rey take down the First Order in “Star Wars.”

Its films like these – with plenty more on the way – which shape public perception of females. Here we begin to see assertive, independent, active leaders. Those successful female characters don’t politicize, sexualize or diminish their gender, they just lead. We begin to accept this new fantasy as reality, and of course, we have to learn how to deal with reality.

No male should have to show his feminine side. He doesn’t have one – he’s a man. And it’s no fun being ridiculed as a parent, which is completely different from encountering laughing matters while parenting. That happens to everyone.

There is, however, a completely masculine way to parent whether you’re cleaning the home or working outside it.

If you’re a dad in today’s world, sometimes you have to do both.

Someone ought to let Vudu know that.

One word makes all the difference

Consider the advertisement and slogan examples all around you.

Oftentimes, if marketers could merely change one word, the message they convey becomes much more inclusive.

  • Arm & Hammer: “If you want to know which detergent to trust, ask your mother. And her mother. And her mother.”
  • Applegate natural and organic meats: “Mom’s dream team for lunch”
  • Aveeno Baby: “Trusted sun protection for baby and mom…maybe that’s why so many moms choose Aveeno…”
  • Babybel: “Attention moms! I’m obviously a great addition to your kid’s lunchbox…”
  • Baby Depot at Burlington: “At Burlington, we carry the most Mom-trusted brands…”
  • Banquet frozen foods: “Perfect for busy moms with even busier families.”
  • Beech-Nut: “Moms don’t add anything artificial into their babies’ food. So neither do we.”
  • Betty Crocker: “Your little one will feel like a Superhero – and you will look like Wondermom! – when you reveal a Superhero Cake for his birthday dessert.”
  • Capri Sun: “At Capri Sun, we’ve been listening to and learning from our moms since the very beginning.”
  • Chuck E. Cheese: “Join us for Chuck E. Cheese’s new Mommy & Me class.”
  • Chuck E. Cheese: “Thank you, mom.” (TV commercial)
  • Coppertone: “…it’s easy for moms to love it too.”
  • Dannon: “As a mom, you want your kids to grow up healthy and strong.”
  • Desitin: “Trusted by more pediatricians and moms than any other brand…”
  • Dr. Smith’s: “The brand moms and pediatricians trust to gently help treat irritated baby bottoms, fast.”
  • Earth’s Best Diapers: “For Moms who care and the little ones they love…”
  • Fisher-Price: “Thanks Mom, for choosing us your most loved & trusted brand.”
  • Garanimals: “Moms know the right outfit makes everybody comfortable…Moms love them because they’re practical.”
  • Gerber: “…we’ve collected product reviews from Moms like you…”
  • Gerber Life Insurance Company: “See what Moms are saying about the Grow-Up Plan.”
  • Huggies: “Got questions? We’ve got answers! Huggies Mommy Answers has essential baby info…”
  • Hyland’s Baby: “…and have been trusted by moms for over 80 years.”
  • IntelliGender: “…a fun pre-birth experience for expectant moms everywhere!”
  • Jif: “In 1958, original Jif Creamy Peanut Butter was introduced, and quickly became a favorite. Moms recognized Jif peanut butter’s superior fresh-roasted peanut taste…”
  • Johnson’s: “Moms around the world trust Johnson’s to safely care for their babies. We are committed to working with moms…”
  • Juicy Juice: “Hey moms, check out these great Juicy Juice crafts and recipes!”
  • Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats: “Mom, more please!”
  • Kid Cuisine: “We believe that kids should get to be kids, and moms should get to serve food…”
  • Kix: “Generations later, kids still love it and moms still approve.”Luvs: “The official diaper of experienced moms.”
  • Lysol: “Congratulations, you’re a mom!…Being a new mom is an exciting…”
  • MyGerber: “Moms and babies, let’s get growing.”
  • Nestle Pure Life: “Meet our moms: nestlepurelifepromise.com”
  • Noodle & Boo: “Our mama profile…only the best will do for her baby.”
  • Nutrients for Life: “Thank mom for the cookies & N.P.K for the ingredients.”
  • Oscar Mayer: “These are real moms getting their kids ready for kindergarten.”
  • P&G: “Thank You Mom for supporting all of our interests.”
  • Pampers: Website menu tab includes “Mommy Corner,” with no dads’ counterpart.
  • Parents magazine: “Must-haves and must-dos for mom and family.”
  • Similac: “More Moms choose the Similac Brand.”
  • Texas Toast: “Thick, crunchy toast. Brushed with buttery, garlic goodness. Bravo, Mom. Take a bow.”
  • Tum-E Yummies: “Moms see goodness. Kids see fun!”
  • Tummy Calm: “Mommy, my tummy hurts…”
  • Walmart: “Baby basics for every mom…Top-rated by moms like you.”
  • Walmart: “Mom’s menu rescue”
  • Zone Perfect: “Mom, look what I can do!…A mom can dream, right?”

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The replacement of words mom or mother with the word parent is a simple solution that projects the message that fathers and mothers deserve equality within the realm of the family.

This means that both women and men have the potential to be nurturing, compassionate, and emotionally available to their children. This also means that both men and women have the capacity to be providers, protectors, educators, and disciplinarians to their children.

The beauty of this truth is that both men and women can fulfill each of these roles and more—even if it means they take differing paths to arrive at that goal.

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.

Is NUK failing dads?

If you’ve ever brought a child into the world, chances are you’ve used NUK products. Whether it’s bottles, teethers or tableware, NUK is easy to be found in the childcare world.nuk2.jpg

Yet for a company that’s been around for almost 60 years, NUK doesn’t appear to be listening to its customer base.

That’s because its marketing team has positioned its business as one of the more dad exclusionary companies around. On its website – nuk-usa.com – you’ll find repeated instances of an unrepresentative approach:

  • A trademarked “You’ve nuk3.pngGot This” slogan which offers wonderful parental assurance, but only for mom. Observe its one-sided slogan description: “Congratulations, mom! You just did the amazing and brought a beautiful baby into the world.” Wording like this ignores the indisputable fact that dad also just did the amazing and brought a beautiful baby into the world.
  • There you can also view a brief, inspirational video that expands on the “You’ve Got This” notion by not only repeatedly speaking to mom in name, but forgets to include even one moment of footage of a father in action.
  • NUK employs use of the exclusionary hashtag #NUKMoms.nuk4.jpg
  • It offers the “More for Moms Rewards Program.” And just in case you missed the program’s logo on the front page, there’s a box on the bottom right corner of nearly every page offering “Exclusive Savings Just for Mom.”

Interestingly, if not predictable, you won’t find a single image of a dad anywhere on its site, nor on social media. That’s where unquestionable irony sinks in. There are numerous cute faces of male babies and young boys used to sell NUK products. But then consider how those same faces will be ignored by the very company they represent once they become fathers later in life.

Its Twitter feed reinforces the notion that moms are its intended audience by insisting, “With some patience, creativity and expertly engineered products from NUK®, you can nuk.jpgtackle this mom thing.”

Imagine you’re a dad and reading, “…you can tackle this mom thing.”

If there were any further doubt as to whom it wants as customers, NUK seals the deal on its About Us page by declaring, “And we listen to the real world experts – moms just like you – to meet and exceed your needs.”

Dad knows what he’s doing every bit as mom. In today’s online shopping world where customers are sometimes only known by credit card numbers, it’s time that NUK takes a moment to embrace the other parent who knows a thing or two about nurturing.

Baking up parental equality

Most consumer products have peak sales times of the year – periods on the calendar when companies can best capitalize on generating the most revenue.entenmanns.jpg

For many, that time of year is the holiday shopping season, when gift buying is strong. For others, such as home improvement stores, that time occurs during the spring when home owners are fixing and planting. Fitness centers especially profit during January and February as New Year’s resolutions mean losing weight and exercising more.

Of course, this time of year – back-to-school season – is when breakfast and lunch makers ramp up efforts to get families in the groove of using their products.

And what is snack maker/baker Entenmann’s doing? It’s telling the nation that only one parent takes care of kids.entenmanns2.jpg

Not only can you find use of the word mom (not parent), you can also find images of a lopsided 13 moms vs. 4 dads on its Parents/Have Fun With Us page.

All of this would have been appropriate some 60-70 years ago when moms ran the show. But parenting has changed dramatically since then. In today’s modern families, dad is now also in charge of buying groceries, clothes, school supplies, and other products and services the family needs to exist. So the marketing approach is key, because dad needs to see he is a trustworthy purchasing agent for his family. The best way to do this is to involve him in the marketing process and value him as an equal parent as well as a valued customer.

By marketing directly to moms, Entenmann’s reinforces a certain stereotype and subliminally makes dad feel that mom is a better/leading parent.

Entenmann’s could do everyone a service by ending this practice of only conversing with moms. It will also do itself a firm favor by winning back dads who are currently reaching for another brand.

What to expect — when you’re a dad

There’s no denying the impact of the legendary book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” Author Heidi Murkoff didn’t just write a book in 1984, she created a brand whattoexpect3.jpgthat has spawned a series of books, an online companion site, a feature film starring Cameron Diaz, and a foundation that has benefited over a half million parents.

Simply put, when Murkoff speaks, people listen. And they should. Her easily accessible WhatToExpect.com is a treasure trove of exhaustive pregnancy subject matter. The site is still greatly in need of a “For Dad” section, and while we’ve already addressed that once, we’ll get back to that in a moment.

Today, let’s look at its latest email newsletter, which tackles an amazingly thoughtful question from one of its readers and is also kindheartedly addressed by its founder Murkoff.

While it’s easy to appreciate this column’s intent, dads may find a real problem with parts of it.

whattoexpect4.pngIts headline sounds like dad is some sort of project that needs to be developed, and can only be done so by a woman. As the reader’s question poses, yes, dad needs cared for – which is part of the definition of nurture – but he doesn’t need to be grown or developed (another part of the definition of nurture). If mom was given space to figure out things on her own, so can dad. That learning can also come together, but there’s no need to insinuate that a dad needs training that only the “lead parent” (e.g., mom) can provide.

To draw a comparison, let’s say a husband posed a similar question about his wife. Would anyone ever attempt to write a comparable headline, “Nurturing the Mother-to-Be”? No, because moms would likely be terribly offended. Most assume – because females give birth – that mothering is instinctual, and fathering must be learned. The truth is, mothers bear no more instinctual ability to parent than fathers.

whattoexpect5Now looking at Murkoff’s response, the opening line also shows a lack of respect for men. No, men don’t care only about sex, and it also suggests that men aren’t as dedicated to conceiving as women. Saying anything otherwise is demeaning to the many caring dads-to-be who are just as interested in having a baby as the mom-to-be.

That first sentence is a rather insensitive opening for a question that has a lot of heart. Remember, the wife’s question says that her husband is feeling “a little neglected,” and she wants to “let him know he’s special too.” That man sounds rather sensitive to us, not anything like the ones portrayed in a beer commercial near you. The bottom line is, it’s sexist to assume that the majority of men only care about the sex part, not the baby part.

That gender bias wouldn’t be so bad had it not been punctuated in the third paragraph, where Murkoff suggests a sports day for the husband. That’s a fine suggestion which most dads would probably enjoy, but not all dads do. It’s a little like how dads are portrayed on Father’s Day cards, almost always with neckties, suits and tools. Again, we’re not against the sports suggestion itself (it’s a great one!), but coupled with the men-only-care-about-sex anthem earlier, dads are feeling a bit profiled by the end.

What to Expect seems to have all the bases covered when it comes to pregnancy, but it might consider another book in its series which comes from a dad’s perspective. Alas, no pregnancy guide is complete without considering dad, because there’s a lot more to pregnancy than just the woman’s body and mind. That baby in there, it’s theirs equally.