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.

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KSN = Kraving Serious News

ksn1Remember the time when TV journalists simply reported the news?

Me neither.

That practice seems to have disappeared, because today we find newscasters and reporters performing, serving more as entertainers. They don’t exactly act like play-by-play announcers simply reporting the action on the field, but they’re also not full-time color commentators. They’re somewhere in between.

News is the reporting of recent events whereby the media provides us with information, and the media is the watchdog of us all. But just because freedom of speech offers us the right to say anything we want, doesn’t mean it should be said.

Think about it: as you watch the news – just after news stories and in between segments or commercials – how often do we hear those little banters, or commentaries, or jokes, or diatribes on some social situation or person among desk anchors? It’s supposed to be a segue to a different topic where we see the anchors’ personality and human side, but instead the power of the media is so often used to influence many via one person’s opinion – whether intentional or not.

It’s likely the “reporting hat” and “show host hat” morphed into one with the major increase of morning shows, mid-day shows, afternoon shows and talk shows, where features and lifestyle stories and commentary blended into one giant pot labeled “TV news,” all under the banner of the network.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Watching the lighter and softer side of news is enjoyable and breaks up the seriousness, but reporting has certainly become less sharing of factual information, more entertainment.

Take, for instance, this recent story featured on Kansas Today on July 8, 2015 on KSN in Wichita, Kan.

Kansas Today’s Katie Taube gave fellow reporter and dad-to-be Mark Davidson, her husband and also dad-to-be Dylan Hagen, as well as veteran dad Leon Smitherman, a list of items to find at Babies R Us. They were asked to work together to find each item in order while a KSN camera crew followed them along.

What’s not clear is why this piece occurred at all?

Was this supposed to be some fish-out-of-water premise, putting manly-men in an environment with which they’re not familiar as we watch hilarity ensue? Was the station trying to send some bumbling guys on a wild goose chase for some impossible-to-find items? Were we supposed to laugh at their overall ineptness?

After you watch the video, scroll below to read the comment from one perceptive viewer named Marissa:

“Why are you mocking dads? My husband could run circles around me when it comes to many of the so-called ‘mother roles.’ We’re living in 2015 people! Why don’t you start mocking gays along with it!”

Well said, Marissa, for we find nothing humorous or newsworthy about men going shopping, especially for items that they’ll use to co-parent these new children.

ksn2Even if these particular men weren’t familiar with a “Diaper Genie,” it’s not like anyone couldn’t find it after a common sense search. These dads are going to become parents, not babysitters, and it’s their equal responsibility to raise them just as the mothers will.

Taube, Davidson, Hagen and Smitherman are probably kind, friendly, stand up people who meant no harm, but as we’ve said before on this site – they weren’t thinking this idea all the way through. And that’s just the problem, we need to think about others and how they might feel. No one likes to be labelled, stereotyped, left out or excluded, but that’s what marketers, media and entertainment do with dads all the time.

Generations ago, it was the father who went to his work while mother stayed home with the children. So, yes, once upon a time dads were perceived as the secondary, assistant parent while mom squarely took the lead. But those days are over, and yet today, some still perpetuate this bygone era.

If KSN continues with this treatment of news, what’s next week’s segment going to be? Filming moms while they enter the work force, laughing at all their mistakes as they try to make it in the “real” world? Following girls around as they attempt to play sports? Taping men who actually try to cook a meal and clean the home?

Times have changed, we all need to treat dads with the love and respect they deserve as parents – being every bit equal parents as mothers. No one is more important as a parent than the other.  Those moms-to-be have no more instinctual ability to parent the child than the dads do. They’re both parents.  Equally.

And next time, hopefully KSN will be reporting the news, not creating it.

PS: Best of luck to all parents-to-be!

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.’

Beyond words

Parent-type magazines seem to regularly flub up the whole dad thing. Whether it involves headlines, photos, stories, or ads, these magazines seem to consistently fail in execution. Our latest discovery is no exception.parenting

At parenting.com you’ll find a “Just for Dad” section, along with a “Just for Mom” section. There’s no denying that dads and moms are different people and can operate as parents differently, so each section seems reasonable in terms of need.

Our problem comes in their description of each section. Let’s take a closer look at what you can actually find posted for real at parenting.com under the menu tab “parenting advice”:

  • Just for Mom: Mom is supposed to know it all, all the time. But what if you don’t? With some tips from experts and the wisdom of other moms, we can figure it out together.
  • Just for Dad: Guys, need guidance on dad issues like out of control diapers and surviving a trip to the store with kids? When your partner isn’t around, let us be a resource for all your parenting questions.

Here at dadmarketing, we decided to translate this hidden, marketing-driven-speak so we can all compare apples to apples. Here’s what each description really says:

  • Just for Mom: Mom isn’t just supposed to know it all, all the time; she does know it all, all the time – and dad is not expected to, because mom usually does the parenting. That’s right, don’t trouble asking the dad in your household, because he simply doesn’t know what to do. Ever. That’s why we have tips from experts and wisdom from other moms available here, because dad doesn’t handle the kids as much as mom. He cares too much about his job. We’ll figure it out together without the help of dad, who doesn’t bother to help you anyway. Even when he’s not at work, that lazy, bumbling guy is too busy watching sports in his man cave, anyway, right?
  • Just for Dad: Guys, need guidance on dad issues like out of control diapers, because we all know dads don’t know how to change diapers. Dads usually let moms handle that stinky stuff. Even if they handle a rare diaper change, most dads dry babies’ bottoms with automatic hair dryers in bathrooms, so that says something about their parenting skills. They don’t even know how to do those pull-tab things or clean up when the dirty work is done. And dads, don’t even attempt to take your kids to stores, because you won’t survive it. Note that we don’t say you won’t be able to endure it – you simply won’t survive it. It’s truly a matter of life and death that you don’t go to the store with your kids. So, turn to this section for resources when mom (swallow hard) actually grants you permission to be home with the kids alone.

How about that original word choice by parenting.com? Who says mom is supposed to know it all? We know who: only those saddled by old-fashioned stereotypes which parenting.com continues to perpetuate. An informal dadmarketing office poll found that no one in our circle of friends or family thinks like that.

And dads needing guidance to survive a trip to the store? Would anyone ever dare say that to a mother? Ever? Then why say it to a father? It’s demeaning. It’s belittling. It’s condescending.

The irony in all this is that parenting.com’s tagline is: Modern families + fresh ideas. We don’t see anything modern or fresh about their choice of words.

Remember parenting.com: words are your business. Without them, you don’t have a magazine or a website.

Let’s hope for a revision soon.

Kix it to the curb

kix2We’ve all heard of stories how the mom used to drag the entire family to church, right? There must be some heavenly market research somewhere backing up this stereotype. So why don’t most churches appeal to the moms?

I can see the ads now: “Moms, you can trust in your kids’ salvation at our church, because we know dads don’t have a history of doing it.”

Let us bow our heads and thank heaven above it’s a good thing churches don’t behave like the makers of Kix cereal.

On the front of their famous yellow-orange box you can’t even find the word “cereal” emblazoned, but you certainly can find a rectangle larger than the General Mills logo itself proclaiming their longtime slogan, “Kid-Tested, Mother-Approved.” And they even have this saying copyrighted!

If it wasn’t clear yet as to exactly who they want to pick up and buy their cereal, simply turn the box slightly.

They used the side panel to include a “Message to Moms…” where they promise mothers that they’ll give kids the best of both worlds, nutrition and great taste. Below this is a “Kix Assurance,” proclaiming that “for over 70 years, moms have trusted our commitment to good nutrition.”

The 800 number comment line is listed under all of this, and it makes me wonder if a dad would even dare call it after their promises and claims to moms all over. Dads might need to make a deal with the devil to ever get this cereal to change.

Kix, you’re in my prayers. Amen.