Enough is Enough, Disney

These days Americans won’t put up with stereotypes and ignorance. We’ve reached a boiling point – and with good reason.

Just ask the Washington Redskins, where the almighty dollar finally pushed owner Daniel Snyder over the edge, forcing him to confront years of repudiation regarding his team’s controversial name.

Stereotypes are ugly because they’re overgeneralized and oversimplified ideas about people. They force an identity on someone or something that isn’t true.

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With the rest of the America turning a critical eye toward all forms of ethnic and racial stereotypes, it’s hard to imagine brands still ignoring miscalculations in other areas.

For years we’ve written about Disney Moms and its refusal to retitle an outwardly discriminatory and exclusionary name. Overall, it’s a fantastic, well-intentioned program which offers Disney vacation advice from seasoned travelers.

However, the explicitly mom-only branding works to create an unknowing, needless divide in the parenting community. Not only does it refuse to acknowledge dads by name, it awkwardly inserts dads into a moms’ program and uncomfortably makes them a gender they’re not.

In 2019, Disney Moms quietly removed “moms” from its long-standing #SMMC hashtag and event name – Social Media Moms Celebration – but it was hardly enough.

The time has come to deal head-on with a program that should know better in today’s equality-focused world.

Yet somehow, someway it has spurned addressing the elephant in the room. Check out its April 27 post (also pictured above) where it continues to treat dads like secondary parents to the unfortunate extreme of ignoring their gender, identity and status in today’s modern family.

Families have noticed the omission on social media lately – perhaps a reflection of the pandemic’s stay-at-home nature which has affected our perception and awakened our senses.

Corporate America is being given little choice.

Just as it’s pressured by millions of people who know that Black Lives Matter, perhaps Disney will get with the program before its PR team is forced into spending unnecessary time playing catch-up with families who have had enough.

Why didn’t dads get a Kraft Father’s Day promo?

Last year, Kraft ran a Mother’s Day promotion – Mother’s Day Away – which encouraged moms to take time away from their family as Kraft covered the cost of a babysitter.

Going on the premise that moms wanted time off, Kraft gave $100 to 500 moms – $50,000 in total.

“Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate Mom in all of her greatness, but we know the holiday doesn’t stop the challenges of motherhood – temper tantrums, sleepless nights and picky eaters,” said Sergio Eleuterio, Head of Marketing for Kraft. “With Kraft ‘Mother’s Day Away’ we are giving moms across the country the chance to have what they secretly really want: some time for themselves.”

While the offer was certainly well-intentioned and generous, the holiday promotion had its faults. Namely, why didn’t dad get one?

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What about dad?

A year has passed since the Kraft Mother’s Day campaign. And now with this year’s Father’s Day just around the corner, dads are waiting for their Kraft gesture.

The problem is – they’re going to be waiting a long time. Attempts made to communicate with Kraft via email and social media went unreturned.

Of course, it’s unlikely we’ll see a comparable campaign. Food companies have a history of omitting fathers when it comes to holiday promotions.

In today’s modern world where parenting roles are blurred, there’s no reason this should happen.

Negativity

Exclusion aside, there’s other troublesome matters with Mother’s Day Away. The promotion purports that being a parent has more negative experiences than positive ones.

Kraft makes it sound like meltdowns and kids pounding on bathroom doors occur regularly.

There’s no doubt parenting has its moments. But it’s not all doom and gloom.

It’s time to bury the tired trope that kids are hellions who force parents to hide. There’s nothing particularly positive about a contest that implies: “Hey moms, on this heartwarming, family-based holiday, want to avoid the very people who made you a mother in the first place?”

Dads don’t help?

The ad copy also insinuates that dads don’t change diapers and that moms never get a break.

One might argue that the ad hints dads don’t do anything to help, thus creating the very reason for the contest – that a babysitter is required to fill in the shoes of the ignorant father who doesn’t help around the home.

In truth, a babysitter isn’t needed. Kraft should stop perpetuating the unfair, unrealistic and outdated notion that dads don’t help around the home and moms won’t relinquish household responsibilities and want to be Super Moms.

Of course, families realize this isn’t the case. Today’s fathers are actively engaged with household duties: diapering, cooking, cleaning, and, are also very familiar with trying to go to the bathroom while kids pound on the door.

Ad redo

“Leave the mothering to someone else?”

It’s called parenting, and dads are equally competent at it.

Here’s a rough draft for the way the advertisement should have been written: “Leave the parenting to another person for one day and hire a babysitter. Enjoy your day with your husband and/or find something fun to do on your own or with other moms. Submit your receipt and we’ll cover up to $100 for your babysitter bill. We’ll also offer this promotion to dads on Father’s Day.”

Dads are waiting

We’ll give Kraft a free pass this year due to the pandemic, but here’s hoping it will make things right next year.

The time to start planning is now. Kraft should contact real dads and start engaging to find a better way so as to not offend.

As Mark Twain once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Ask mom how she feels about dad’s exclusion

Getting marketing and media to be more inclusive of fatherhood has many key factors.

Of course, the obvious consequence of ignoring dad is the degradation of fatherhood.

Yet there is another area of concern involving all of parenthood, particularly mothers.

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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 reaching 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.

Ask mom how she feels about dad being excluded.

You might be surprised how much it affects her.

What social media thinks of the ‘Mr. Mom’ reboot

If social media is any indication, the controversial “Mr. Mom” reboot must be nearing the end of its streaming life.

Viewers didn’t take kindly to the announcement of a reboot on the Walmart-owned streaming service Vudu.

And the rest of the Twitterverse hardly knows it’s there – as of today, @MrMomTV has a mere 171 followers.

All of which barely warrants demand for keeping “Mr. Mom” on Hollywood life-support.

Here’s what commenters have had to say so far about “Mr. Mom” reboot.

How the Grinch Ignored Dads

Every family on Earth liked dads a lot…
But marketing and media, who lived on Earth too, did NOT!

They both ignored dads, even in June.
Now, please don’t ask why. No one can answer that soon.
It could be they were stuck in the Fifties.
It could be, perhaps, that the VPs were iffy.
But I think that the most likely reason to say,
May have been that they don’t know dads of today.

But, whatever the reason, being old-fashioned or mulish,
They stood there, looking at dads, acting so foolish.
Staring down from their boardrooms with a sour, grumbly frown,
At the warm lighted homes below in their town.
For they knew every dad down on Earth beneath,
Was busy now, shopping, cooking and feeding.

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“And they’re helping with kids” (which to us seemed apparent).
“Tomorrow on Christmas, they’ll act like they’re parents.”
Then they growled, with their fingers nervously a-patter.
“I must find some way to stop dads from being treated like they matter.”

For tomorrow, they knew, that dads of all kinds
Would wake bright and early, making Christmas day shine.
For the dads with their families, would sit down to a feast.
They helped cook and serve it, and shopped too, at least.
Which was something their marketing data hadn’t released.

And THEN dads would do something they liked least of all.
Every dad to be found, the tall and the small,
Would stand in the living room, so very involved.
They’d be with their kids, they had lots of fun.
CEOs don’t want to admit, but that’s how it’s always been done.

And the more marketing and media thought of those dads,
The more they thought, “We must create some new ads!”
“Why, for several years we’ve put up with it now!”
“We MUST stop dads from looking like they’re equally, competent parents! But HOW?”

Then they got an idea! An awful idea!
THE MARKETING AND MEDIA GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!

“We know just what to do!” they laughed, oh so brash.
So they made reboot of Mr. Mom in a flash.
And they chuckled, and clucked, “What a great marketing trick!
With these shows and new ads, fathers won’t look so slick.”

Then they ran some campaigns that ignored dear, old dad.
They discounted his moves, and made him look bad.
They excluded with clubs and groups so complete.
Disney Moms, Chick-fil-A Moms, Walmart Moms all did meet.

But they didn’t stop there, media insisted with glee.
The headlines ridiculed dad hastily.
Moms do the laundry. Moms pack the lunches.
Moms handle checkups. They do it in bunches.”

Kellogg’s, Gerber, Pampers and Jif.
They’ve all ignored dad – it caused quite a riff.
And just when you thought they were all out of feats,
“And NOW!” grinned marketing and media, “I will exclude more with some tweets!”

Then they opened their browser, and started to click,
When they noticed some dads who were commenting quick.
Dads stared at those ads and said, “Marketing and media, why…
Why are you ignoring dads? WHY?”

But, you know, those corporate heads were so smart and so slick,
They thought up a lie, and they thought it up quick!
“Why, my dear old dads,” marketing and media lied,
“Moms want to cook and clean, and do the work inside.
The kitchen, the laundry, the chores – it’s all theirs.
They want the control, they don’t want to share.”

And their fibs fooled consumers, but something didn’t seem right.
In today’s modern world, dad’s involved day and night.

It was quarter past dawn, all the dads, still-a-bed,
plus the moms and the kids, still a-snooze and misled.

“Pooh-Pooh to the dads,” marketing and media did chatter.
“They’re finding out now, that to families, they don’t matter.
They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!
Their mouths will hang open, but if you want proof,
The dads in their homes will remain so aloof.”

“That’s a sight,” grinned marketing and media, “That I simply MUST see!”
So they paused and figured everyone would agree.
And they did see a sight in homes across Earth.
It started upon birth, and as kids grew in worth.

But the sight wasn’t sad. Why this sight looked so fun!
It couldn’t be so! But it WAS fun – not even outdone!
Marketing and media stared down at homes!
They popped their eyes!
Then they shook and saw a shocking surprise!

Every dad down on Earth, the righteous and errant,
Surprise, surprise – knew just how to parent!
They DIDN’T have to be taught, told, or trained,
Instinctually they managed, their minds were ingrained.

Marketing and media hadn’t stopped dads from being parents. They already were!
Somehow or other, they were equally sure.

And the marketing and media, with their old-fashioned way,
Stood puzzling and puzzling, “How’d they manage today?
They cooked, cleaned and helped.
They handled it steady. They equally tended to children already.”
And they puzzled three hours, till their puzzlers were sore.
Then marketing and media thought of something they hadn’t before!
“Maybe dads,” they thought, “aren’t parents to ignore.
Maybe dads…perhaps…mean a little bit more!”

And what happened then…? Well, on the Internet they say,
That the marketing and media’s hearts grew three sizes that day!

And the minute their hearts didn’t quite feel so tight,
They brainstormed ideas to put dads in new light,
And they stopped the negative shows, programs and ads!

And they…the marketing and media themselves…took some time to know dads!

Dads already have their priorities straight, now marketing and media need to do the same

Willful pigeonholing of dad by marketers and media into the secondary parent role feeds our senses, shapes our attitudes and makes us believe that all dads aren’t as skilled and competent as moms. The formula works so well that companies have convinced themselves that nothing has changed over the years, and thus, the typecasting continues.

As a result, society makes this persist in many ways.

One example is the methodology of the academic studies about moms and dads and their role as parents. The observations and conclusions are usually mom-biased and more importantly discount, overlook, or ignore a dad’s perspective.

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One recent illustration of this is a 2016 study by researchers at the University of Minnesota and Cornell University. This study was featured in a Star Tribune article on October 15, 2016, titled, “Among Parents, Dads Get All the Fun and Moms the Stress and Fatigue.” The researchers sampled more than 12,000 parents while measuring how happy, sad, stressed, fatigued, and meaningful their time was throughout the day, both with their children and apart from them. One of the report’s authors – as well as the media – concluded that moms do more housework and dads get to have more fun.

However, the researchers and media never considered how dads and moms have different priorities when it comes to the time they spend with their kids. The truth is neither approach to parenting is wrong, they’re just different. The same is true when it comes to shopping.

Different priorities doesn’t mean that a dad does not care and a mom is more caring. Most dads work during the week and, because of this, they use their limited spare time to enjoy and have fun with kids. Different also doesn’t mean that dad doesn’t have any interest in shopping or wouldn’t like to share in the shopping duty.

Consider the shaping of thought by the marketing images in advertisements: dad is often viewed as the playmate, while mom handles the cooking, cleaning, and shopping. If gender equity is sought, marketers should consider how genders could be depicted differently and fairly.

The aura of today’s modern dad is vastly different than that of yesteryear. Now is the time for companies to view dads with a clean slate by erasing all the myths and misguided labels, which drag them down from being viewed as equal and adept parents.

A few companies are already realizing this untapped potential, and they stand to maximize gains in a crowded field seeking to win over parents and their spending dollar.

Numbers don’t lie

According to a 2012 study by Parenting Group, publisher of Parenting and Babytalk magazines and Parenting.com, and Edelman, a leading global communications marketing firm, statistics show that men are now the primary shoppers in 32 percent of households – more than double the 14 percent rating of two decades ago. That same study, in a Yahoo survey of 2,400 U.S. men ages 18 to 64, found more than half now identify themselves as the primary grocery shoppers in their households, but only 22 to 24 percent feel advertising in packaged-goods categories speaks to them.

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Defy Media investigated tasks of men aged 18 to 49 in 2014. They discovered that 65 percent of men hold the primary responsibility of shopping for several household product categories and 54 percent of married men say they shop for groceries and household supplies more than their spouses.

Phil Lempert has served as a food trends editor for NBC’s “Today Show” since 1991 and is now known as the Supermarket Guru. In a 2015 piece, he noted that according to a new Young & Rubicam study, men now comprise 41 percent of all primary grocery shoppers, but that figure is even higher among dads: 80 percent of millennials and 45 percent among all dads are either the primary or shared grocery shoppers in their families. The study also found that dads are more brand-loyal and less frugal than moms.
These facts alone suggest an invitation to corporate and marketing executives to seriously consider developing a marketing campaign to both parents, without the exclusion of one or the other. The facts are often ignored due to the myths of fatherhood, but the reality speaks of new dynamics.

There is no question parenting has evolved. Dads, as well as moms, have contributed to the new progressive development of today’s modern parents in which roles, like shopping, are shared between parents. This new parenting culture brings up many questions like:

  • Is the relationship between marketing and modern parents changing? How is it possible to not explore or consider dads as valuable customers?
  • How can a marketing department would neglect the obvious?
  • How can a CEO and its board allow all this to be missed, year after year?

Let’s hope that the corporate world soon catches up to modern families who so greatly matter to their bottom line.

With great ‘Power Up’ comes great responsibility

Over two years ago, Jif started to let go of one of the most recognizable and old-fashioned, exclusionary slogans marketing has ever seen.

That slogan – “Choosy Moms Choose Jif” – was beginning to disappear from television ads, print material and its website. Specifically, the removal from its main menu and relative prominence of the website offered a powerful sign that Smucker’s, its parent company, might actually be eliminating a sexist vibe from its messaging.

The switch was a positive implication to dads that they finally mattered as parents and customers, and that the company was at last recognizing today’s modern family. The shuttering of the slogan indicated that Jif was serious about modernizing, catching up to the times and maximizing profit.jif22.jpg

But then it introduced a new product, and how easy it went back to its old ways. Behold Jif Power Ups, a bite-size snack that’s portable and convenient. It looks tasty enough, but taste can be a funny thing when it’s genderized. Then it’s just in poor taste.

That’s because Jif went back to its old ways by declaring the product offers “the goodness moms want.” While leaving dad out may seem like an innocent omission, the fact remains that Jif has a history of targeting who it wants as customers, and it’s sliding back to its old routine. It’s an unfortunate truth, especially as dads remain ever viable as parents and shoppers in a crowded field of grocers. Dads want to be treated as a member of the family, and they will when advertisers begin to use their power to exert control and influence over behavior in a positive fashion.

Until then, society has to wait while Jif trumpets the old-school notion that mom is the lead parent, with reality constantly proving otherwise.

If you head over to its Power Ups product page, you’ll surprisingly find some much needed inclusive language, plus humor from famed funnyman Neil Patrick Harris — who just happens to be a dad. If he knew of Jif’s marketing exclusion, it’s doubtful he’d be laughing, nor wanting to sponsor a product that doesn’t even consider him a primary target audience.

Dads are a crucial and equal part of the family, and they want goodness as much as anyone. It’s time for change, Jif.

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.

How ‘mom panels’ only tell half the story

Everyone keeps telling us the days of traditional gender roles are long gone.

They say men care for and nurture children, just as women work outside the home. Both parents contribute no matter what task needs done, because the lines are blurred and times are different now.

Ask around your circle of family and friends, and chances are those perceived dynamics match the real world. Moms and dads do indeed share responsibilities, but that’s not how the corporate world sees it. There, particularly in the realm of marketing and media, you’ll find a different story where stereotypes are held onto, where there’s a belief that only mom runs the show.chickfila2.jpg

That’s never been more evident than with the Chick-fil-A Moms Panel, a corporate initiative which works to bring moms news and announcements, gather feedback on future programs, and provide exclusive opportunities and gifts.

The program is driven through BSM Media, a marketing and media company that specifically focuses on connecting brands with moms.

The Chick-fil-A Moms Panel is believed to have close to 1,000 moms on this year’s panel. That’s a lot of moms who can help Chick-fil-A learn more about their offerings and the way they address customer service.chickfila3.jpg

The only problem? It’s forgetting half of the parenting equation.

Last year’s industry-first book, “DADLY Dollar$,” revealed several interesting facts about dads. A 2015 qualitative study by consumer insights firm iModerate indicated that dads make impromptu purchases first based on price. But there are other reasons. One reason is that they want to reward their children for good behavior, accomplishments, or even to avoid an in-store meltdown. In addition, they also like to give their families treats, either to celebrate events, reduce home tension, or indulge loved ones. They also do so out of convenience, for the sake of planning, and to anticipate items they might need.chickfila4.jpg

If money issues are often at the root of couples’ arguments, it may not prove who is right or wrong, but it at least proves this: dads have a hand on how money is spent.

Operating a moms-only panel isn’t only about ignoring half of its customers, it’s about losing out on potential revenue and the opportunity to learn how today’s modern families spend money.

Company founder Truett Cathy insisted, “We should be about more than just selling chicken. We should be a part of our customers’ lives…”

Rather than focusing on missed opportunities, we see Chick-fil-A as having a new opportunity to be a part of dads’ lives. In fact, there’s no better way for this family-owned business to remind everyone that families also include dads.