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.

Words matter: why ignoring dads in ads is baloney

Nearly every day, words spoken by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump make national headlines.  Of course, some quotes are more shocking than others, and yet the level of scrutiny is often over a few select words.

Why the fuss?

Because words matter.oscarmayer4.png

Oscar Mayer recently introduced an ad about sending young children to school for the first time.  At first glance, it’s touching.  It looks great.

Note we said looks, because if you re-watch the ad with the volume muted, most everything looks good.  It looks like a touching ad involving the entire family, even if dad plays a rather minor role.oscarmayer1.png

But cue back the volume and notice the complete omission of “dad” in speech, and that changes the ad’s marketing breadth entirely.  No longer is dad playing a token cameo at best, but rather, he’s been excluded from the message – a sad, recurring theme among lunch makers who only believe mom’s pack lunches.

Oscar Mayer’s eschewed use of the word dad is an unfortunate practice for a company with dads at its roots.oscarmayer3.jpg

After all, what does this ad say to the late Richard Trentlage, the man who created the venerable Oscar Mayer Wiener song, who died Sept. 21 at age 87?  As a dad, Trentlage used his living room as a recording studio and had his children sing audition tapes.

It’s part of a rich Oscar Mayer legacy, which was founded in 1883 (perhaps Mayer was a dad?).  But 1883 is a whopping 133 years ago.  It’s high time this prominent company gets back to the basics if it wants to be perceived as the leader in lunch meats for the next 133 years.

Even if its marketing research suggests a majority of women purchase its products, there’s no point in senselessly alienating the other part of its customer base, and being perceived as a company who places a greater value in one gender – thus creating a bias, and all over useless, old fashioned stereotypes.

Besides, we all know sexism is wrong.

Oscar Mayer may have a way with b-o-l-o-g-n-a, but it also has a regrettable way with excluding dads.  Let’s hope that practice comes to a quick end before the next school year rolls around, because dads do indeed get kids ready for school and pack lunches, too.

And they love their kids every bit as moms.

 

Here’s a case for combining Mother’s and Father’s Day into one holiday

family2Last month on Mother’s Day, we overheard a young dad offering well wishes to a fellow friend, an elderly mom.  The mom extended a kind “thanks” in return, and then shared with a smile:

“Mother’s Day, Father’s Day – they’re really the same thing.  We should just have one ‘Parents Day,’ because parents raise kids together these days.  Everyone has the same job.  We’re all celebrating today, and I hope you have a great day, too!”

That’s some seriously wise knowledge from a veteran mother.

This mom was probably born about a decade after women finally gained the right to vote, so she’s seen changing societal roles and struggles for equality – all while being raised during a time when women didn’t typically work outside the home.

If any person has a reason to be set in her ways or subscribe to old-fashioned thinking, it would be her.

Yet instead, she has it all figured out.  She gets it.  She knows parenting isn’t a one-sided affair where one gender takes the lead, the other serves as an assistant or part-time helper.  She knows dads are just as competent, instinctual, effective and equal as moms when it comes to parenting.

Why don’t companies and their marketing employees think the same?

Technically, there is a Parents’ Day in the United States, held on the fourth Sunday of July.  However, that holiday hardly has the traction of its individual counterparts.

The truth is, we need holidays to celebrate each parental unit.  Moms and dads are different, and they parent different – and we say celebrate that.

So, let’s keep things the way they are, but recognize that no holiday is more important than the other.  We all have a father and a mother, whether we know them or not.

They deserve a day to be honored individually.

And they’re equal parents in every way.

You may look like a dad, but we’re going to call you a mom

similac13It would’ve been great to be a fly on the wall when the male model (featured in this ad) got the call from his talent agent to appear in this Similac magazine ad:

Agent: How’s my favorite client?
Model: I’m good.
A: Great news – I landed you a new photo shoot for a parents magazine ad.
M: That’s cool. What’s the company?
A: Similac.
M: Similac?
A: You know, they make baby formula.
M: Oh, right.
A: Anyway, they want you to appear in a grocery store aisle holding a cute little baby.
M: Simple enough.
A: But there’s one catch…
M: What’s that?
A: They want to call you a mom.
M: (Momentary pause) A mom? But I’m a guy.
A: I know, I know. You’ll still be playing the part of a dad, but you see, their tagline is “Welcome to the Sisterhood of Motherhood.”
M: But dads aren’t moms.
A: True, but Similac likes to use “mom” as a synonym for “parent.”
M: (Awkward silence) But isn’t baby formula the perfect product to sell to dads, especially since they can’t breastfeed?
A: Right again, but they don’t need dads as customers.
M: Why not?
A: Because they say only women take care of kids and shop.
M: But I shop.
A: You’re single. When you get married and have kids, you don’t shop anymore. That’s a mother’s job.
M: That seems kind of sexist.
A: But Similac is paying you big money to look and act like a dad. (Awkward silence) They just want to call you a mom.
M: Now it all makes sense. Where do I sign?

Once again, Similac takes the shared role of parenting and needlessly genders its product – thus turning it into a mothers-only thing. It’s all the more troubling because they (gasp), used the word “parent” twice in its ad copy, only to follow up with its obdurate tagline. It concludes with a partisan invitation for only moms to converse further on social media.

The ad looks even more abnormal when you consider its “sisterhood” theme of supporting the choice between breast- and bottle-feeding – and then reflect on the same underlying “choice” theme in this particular heading – with a dad included. Breastfeeding and a dad?

We like to think that, at some point, Similac will discontinue this madness of posing dads in ads and calling them mothers in a sisterhood, but it has company when it comes to miscasting roles.

 

 

Is laundry only a mother’s job?

Laundry.  It comes in heaps and never stops, and this week we found a few items in need of a good washing.

First, let’s take a look at the latest Arm & Hammer ad, which offers something both endearing and cautionary about the way it positions its brand.armandhammer1

On one hand, A&H takes a clever, charming approach by using generational ties as laundry solutions.  We can certainly appreciate the appeal of doing things the way our parents did them.  Passing down advice from one generation to another offers a timeless sentiment that pulls at our emotions.  That aspect is nice.

But on the other hand, with piles of laundry comes great responsibility.

That laundry room in your home – yes, that one over there – must be handled with extreme caution.  It’s dangerous to assume that it’s mom’s domain. That would be inconsiderate, old-fashioned and passé, sort of like saying a mother’s place is in the kitchen.  Frankly, it would have been better had A&H had not even gone there and employed this motherly theme.

We acknowledge that sometimes an idea can be too good to pass up, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t.  Look at the incongruity the New York Times offers in name with its Motherlode section – a section which supposedly covers the issues of parenting.

So, by A&H using mom as the focal point, we’re all led down a path to believe that laundry is the mother’s duty.  That creates perceptions that aren’t necessarily true, especially in today’s modern, dual-income, gender-lines-have-been-blurred, and everybody-takes-on-different-roles world.

ariel1Which brings us to the peculiar ad unveiled by Indian detergent maker Ariel.  In it, Ariel offers an apology to moms everywhere, on behalf of dads, for guys not helping with the laundry.

Admittedly, we’re somewhat ill-equipped to analyze this ad, as we have no awareness of Indian culture.  However, for the purposes of this column, we’ll probe within an American context.

The Ariel ad is admirable for encouraging everyone to help around the house, but sadly, it’s at the expense of dads.

Once again, dads are made out to be the bad guy – the lazy spouse – and coerced into apologizing unnecessarily.  Let’s put this ad in perspective:  you have to remember that in days past, when the dad traditionally went to a job all day and was the sole breadwinner, it was the mom’s duty to run the household – and there’s nothing wrong with that scenario even today.  Both roles contribute to a family and household, even if they’re held by opposite parties nowadays.  No job is more important than the other.

The older father in the ad shouldn’t have had to apologize for anything, unless he wasn’t carrying his load and doing his part in life.  The younger father in the background, clearly isn’t – at least for the brief period shown in this elongated ad.

A&H curiously has an ad of its own, and not once is a male of any age shown.  Perhaps these laundry detergent makers could have compared notes, rather than send conflicting messages that only leave dad caught in the middle of two contradictory campaigns:  one that puts dad at fault, another that says it was never dad’s job in the first place.

So when the A&H ads are stacked up next to Ariel’s apologist campaign, it’s more than a little disconcerting to see the commercial’s closing question:  “why is laundry only a mother’s job?”

I think we all know the answer to that question:  it’s not.

But, maybe, just maybe, that question is better posed directly to A&H.

Tell us, A&H, why is laundry only a mother’s job?

Marketing to baby must involve dad

hylands1Hyland’s has been making safe and natural homeopathic medicines since 1903, and after a quick look at its latest magazine ad, seems to be rather dad-friendly.  It’s nice to see a dad featured prominently in its ad.

But take a close look and read the copy.  Why doesn’t it speak to dads?

Now glimpse at hylands.com and click on “Calming Tablets,” and you’ll find a similar mom-only reference.

Those are some disappointing dad omissions for an otherwise decent overall marketing approach.  Generally, Hyland’s seems to try to use “parent” references, so these nuggets caught us a little off-guard.

hylands3Hyland’s talks about party invitations here, a symbolic reminder that dads want to be invited to the “party,” too.  They take care of babies and have plenty of choices when it comes to baby care products.  So why should Hyland’s give them a reason to go anywhere else?

Parenting isn’t a mom-only thing, and mom isn’t the lead parent, regardless of what any particular family’s situation may be.  It is the responsibility of both parents to raise a child, and that equality has never been more prevalent than it is today.

The Hyland’s example is an exhortation for any company looking to increase sales:  don’t forget your customers, and they won’t forget you.

A picture is worth a thousand hugs

toysrusSure, this featured email promo from Toys”R”Us is a gratuitous Father’s Day message which ran this past June 21, likely the lone time during the year you’ll see a dad-specific message from the giant toy retailer.

Today, however, that’s not of our concern.

Take another look at the ad. The copy is creative. The design is clean. The look is simple.

And, whoa, is that a child is hugging a dad?

That act – the hug – is the kind of thing normally unassociated with the stiff, rigid, unexpressive, stereotypical father, right? So often we typically see hugs and kisses for mom at Mother’s Day, and a lot of tools and neckties for dad on Father’s Day. It’s unfair labeling where we’ve been conditioned by companies to think that only moms are the caring, nurturing ones at home, while dad’s true love must be work since he’s there most of the day, hence the tie.

So when it comes to expressions toward dad, it’s less common to see hugs in advertisements. You might see hand holding or a shoulder ride at best, but a hug for dad is rare in ads.

We applaud the creative team at Toys”R”Us for presenting what others can’t: a deep tenderness and affection toward dad.

This is exactly the kind of move that tells dads, “We know you’re out there, and we value you; we’re talking to you, and we want you as customers.” It presents dads in a caring light as the nurturers they really are, and speaks to them through solid marketing messages that evoke emotion.

Nice work Toys”R”Us, and we look forward to seeing repeat performances not just in June, but throughout the year.

That’s because rumor has it, more than one dad has visited all of your 865 stores before.

What to expect when you’re expecting to be treated like a parent

whattoexpect1If WhatToExpect.com truly offers information, as it says, on “pregnancy and parenting,” then why is it singling out one gender and hosting the annual “Moms Love-It” Awards?

It’s confusing how things ended up this way.

Originally, Heidi Murkoff conceived the idea for the famed book, What to Expect® When You’re Expecting, during her first pregnancy as noted on its website: “Determined to write a guide that would help other expectant parent (sic) sleep better at night, Heidi delivered the proposal for What to Expect® When You’re Expecting just hours before delivering her daughter, Emma.”

It’s admirable that the site uses the term “parent” when speaking about Murkoff’s original ambition. Murkoff seems like a fantastic, dynamic, successful woman on a mission to improve lives.

However, somewhere along the way, parent was replaced with mom, leaving dad as the one parent who apparently isn’t on equal footing. It’s a bias we’ve seen elsewhere and remains as unfortunate mistreatment.

Check out the “About What to Expect” page, where Murkoff’s commitment has wavered from its initial care for parents, to now only moms: “Heidi’s passionate commitment to moms and babies…”

And now with the relatively new “Moms Love-It” Awards (launched 2013), it makes expecting fathers feel like they simply don’t matter, underscored by the various award-winning companies from whom expectant dads everywhere will be purchasing their baby needs. Yes, indeed, dads shop too.

whattoexpect2What’s more, this is again yet another example of a website offering a “For Mom” section, with dad information buried elsewhere. Even the “Military Mom” section offers a one-sided look that ignores fathers. Why not offer a “For Dad” section with equal prominence instead of burying it under “More”? How about a “Military Dad” section?

If marketers so often like to falsely earmark dad as the parent who isn’t as smart when it comes to babies or who isn’t as involved, wouldn’t those fallacies be all the more impetus to offer solid information to fathers?

Everyone wants to be treated with respect and dignity, but how can dads find it here? Of course, dads aren’t actually carrying the baby, but that doesn’t mean they’re less important, or don’t matter to the pregnancy – they’re totally, equally important to the child. And the “Moms Love-It” Awards are only two years old. How about renaming them the “Parents Love-It” Awards before another company beats them to it?

Dads have a lot of options when it comes to parenting information, and those companies who choose to actively engage with them will be the true award winners.

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.

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.