Why does Claritin insist dads don’t take care of kids?

Who says dads don’t take care of kids’ allergies? Bayer Global, makers of Children’s Claritin – that’s who.

It doesn’t take long to figure out who Bayer wants as its customer base when you visit its gender-specific website which insists dads aren’t parents who buy or provide medicine. Bayer doesn’t just offer a Smart Allergy Mom Toolkit – they’re so convinced that only moms matter they trademarked it.

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But that’s not all. Bayer even offers the Claritin Mom Crew, which offers only moms free product samples and promotional items in exchange for positive reviews. Dads, it would seem, were not even given an opportunity to speak because the invite was never extended.

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It’s all a tough pill to swallow for dads who remain dedicated as part of today’s modern families. It’s these same dads who hear constant viral stories of mothers who complain about having to do it all, then get little by way of backup from ad agencies who insist just that – moms must do it all.

Of course, we all know this not to be true. Dads also seek assistance when looking to administer medicine to allergy-suffering children. Dads are every bit equal, competent parents who care greatly about their children.

These are not your dads of yesteryear, depicted in 1950s sitcoms as aloof, unemotional and neglectful. Nor are they the spoofed, incompetent 1980s fathers of “Mr. Mom” and “Vacation” who needed corrected by their more sensible wives.

Bayer’s approach is both disappointing and troubling. It’s effectively telling fathers everywhere – you don’t matter. It’s a surprising and unfair omission from a company whose mission is “to achieve and maintain leadership positions in our markets” and to “respect the interests of all our stakeholders.”

It’s hard to imagine how all of these ideals can be accomplished when it’s not aiming to reach the dad market, nor respecting the members of that market.

Bayer’s #BeAnOutsider social media campaign is a clever one that encourages Claritin users to start enjoying the outdoors again. But it also offers a heavy dose of irony to dads: they already are outsiders.

Perhaps someday Bayer will let dads in and make them to feel like the true, equal parents they are without any bias toward who they think cares for kids today.

If Bayer truly knew its customer base, it would know differently.

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Yes, dads change diapers: why this degrading story needs to disappear from Huggies’ website

As dads continue to strive for equality in parenting, modern day media persists in poking fun at the so-called incompetency of bumbling fathers. We’re not talking about 1983’s “Mr. Mom,” but far more recent works.

You may recall that in 2012, Huggies started a marketing campaign titled, “Have Dad Put Huggies To The Test.” The series of ads portrayed dads as inattentive caregivers, and thus, propagated old-fashioned stereotypes. Huggies received a heavy dose of backlash from dads, who shared their disappointment over the ads.huggies7.png

The marketers at its parent company, Kimberly-Clark, were forced to embark on some serious damage control after one father started a “We’re dads, Huggies. Not dummies” petition that garnered more than 1,000 signatures in less than a week. Social media fervor grew – Huggies learned a quick lesson the hard way and swiftly pulled the ads.

Despite all the profuse and warranted apologizing that followed, Huggies didn’t seem to learn from its unfortunate experience. To this day, its website still contains maintains a “Mommy Answers” page with no comparable dad counterpart. Huggies print ads also continue to speak only to mom by name, and there’s gender biased language on its site throughout.

Yet, one of its worst jabs is even more recent – which harkens to its “dad test” campaign – and you can find it live at huggies.com.

There you’ll find an article offering the unabashed advice, “4 Ways to Get Dad to Do Diapers.”

It’s almost unthinkable to believe a headline like this could exist anywhere, but it does. Imagine seeing a story titled, “4 Ways to Get Dads to Cook,” if you’re looking for a comparable headline that would too cause an uproar.

Like so many other “parent/baby” companies, Huggies will claim to speak to both moms and dads. Huggies has even taken steps to sponsor the At-Home Dads Convention, donate diapers to the National Fatherhood Conference, and has an ongoing relationship with the City Dads Group – all noble and noteworthy causes.

Between Huggies’ generous donations and disparaging story – it creates a strong disconnect we can’t ignore.

Huggies’ lack to change its marketing strategy towards dads and genuinely embrace them as valuable shoppers is an example of how respect for dads seems to continue to take a massive backseat to the unwarranted stigma about dads.

Gender equality can never be achieved without dropping the sly innuendo that degrades and belittles the institution of fatherhood.

Right about now, dads could use a hug. What do you say, Huggies?

A quiz: what kind of magazine will it be?

whatkindofdad1Just when we think American Baby magazine is leaning toward doing something right by placing a dad on the cover of its June 2015 issue (no doubt a gratuitous Father’s Day nod), we turn inside to find an article trying to be humorous, and rather offends.

First of all, we know ABM is geared toward mothers, despite its name. The advertising and writing all fuel the bias that moms are the lead parent, and that dads don’t count. For a magazine to continue with a title name that truly suggests nothing otherwise (yes, both women and men have the ability to care for babies), this is wrong – but you have to remember this magazine’s mission as you proceed with this piece. After all, a quick flip through ABM’s pages indicate the heavily unbalanced photographic tally of 44 images of moms, compared to just 11 dads. It’s like this every month.

If language expresses intent, then what does that lopsided ratio suggest?

In case you still had some doubt in your mind, the article titled “What Kind of Dad Will He Be?” (available online here), should cement the fact that ABM disregards dads with nearly every step it takes. Again, we know the magazine and this particular story favors moms – of course, there’s a need for that in this world – but why not within this same issue or another one, have a similarly titled story written for dads asking “What Kind of Mom Will She Be?”

The flimsy bone that ABM offers dads on the cover is forcefully snatched away on page 3’s table of contents, after one quickly realizes that there’s not a single article in its so-called “Father’s Day issue” offering dads a way to better themselves as fathers, or why dads mean something to families, or how to plan for a fun Father’s Day, or even the social media loving “dad bod.”

We can even look past Sarah Schmelling’s humorous tone, which somehow finds a way to dig at men by using every possible sexist connotation imaginable. By comparison, do women really find it funny when men try to be comical and use the, “a woman’s place is in the kitchen” line?

Let’s forget all that for now, though, and look at two inconspicuous items of note:

  1. Check out the photo caption at the top of page 56 (pictured above). “He may not even need coaching to become your parenting team’s MVP!” Talk about incongruous writing – first AMB is acknowledging that dads are on the parenting team (and the possible MVP, no less!) – yet the rub is in the first six words:  “He may not even need coaching”?  That’s some seriously curious language, because mothers bear no more instinctive abilities to parent a child than fathers.  One can argue whether being a parent is an instinct or an acquired skill, but one parent doesn’t possess the skill more than the other simply by way of gender.  Although this website talks about a slightly different but related topic, here’s what one wise, hipster homemaker has to say about dads and babysitting.
  2. In the last section of the article under “MOSTLY C’S,” the author uses the phrase “Mr. Mom.”  Don’t get us started on the use of that term (because we already have), but in short, would anyone dare call a working mother “Mrs. Dad”?

It’s hard to give the author kudos for the wonderful, cute ending, “Few things are more fun for a child…” when the previous sentence exhausts the last of several tired, unflattering stereotypes, suggesting that every dad must live “The Hangover” lifestyle every weekend.

C’mon dadmarketing, you might say, have a sense of humor.

It’s scarcely amusing when ABM pushes the dads-don’t-matter-to-us agenda every month, and it’s in a supposed Father’s Day issue. Imagine if, for example, there was a dad-related food story with a photo caption that offered, “She may not even need coaching to start cooking like your own mom!”

With stereotypes, there’s always someone who isn’t laughing.

Hopefully by the next time ABM releases next year’s Father’s Day issue, we’ll have a magazine that helps celebrate, appreciate and thank dads for all they do, rather than create an unnecessary divide on the parenting team.

Why Amazon Mom is like a misshelved library book

A trip to the library is a lot like driving on a long-distance vacation.

It’s fun and fascinating, and whether you’re looking for a particular book or just browsing for whatever meets the eye, it’s a pathway to enjoyment that makes the journey as fun as the destination.amazonmom

One time, though, a friend of mine was cruising through the library, and on a mission.  He was looking for a particular book, and nothing else would do.  He visited the right floor, the right section and the right shelf.  The system said it was available, but it wasn’t.  Even the help of a kind librarian was to no avail.

As it turns out, he eventually found that book.  He said he remembers happily holding it, but also scolding it, as if to ask, “If I didn’t know where you were, how could I find you?”

A recent retail experience again reminded him of that misshelved book.

Amazon knows a thing or two about books.  It started as an online bookstore, and eventually diversified to sell nearly anything that can have a price tag placed on it.  It is the largest Internet based company in the United States, and it’s often our first stop shopping destination.

We love Amazon, and it loves us back.  With regular enticements like free shipping, discounts, Black Friday sales, and rewards programs, it’s everything we’d want in a shopping experience, even if we can’t touch and smell the item first.

Then, several years ago it introduced Amazon Mom.amazonmom2

For years, dads have been unfairly mislabeled “Mr. Mom” – a name they find both offensive and erroneous (would anyone dare call a working mother, “Mrs. Dad”?) – so it’s easy to make a sophisticated deduction about what Amazon Mom might entail.

But we don’t want to spoil the fun; here’s Amazon Mom’s own curious self-description:  “(It) is a prime membership program aimed at helping parents and caregivers in the prenatal through toddler years use Amazon to find and save on products that families need.  Amazon Mom is open to anyone, whether you’re a mom, dad, grandparent or caretaker.”

So let’s get this straight:  a dad can join a mom program?  The word mom has become a generic term for parent, like Kleenex is for facial tissues?

And then dads must stop to think:  realistically – as a dad – is Amazon Mom speaking to you?  Does this program’s name suggest something that you would want to browse?  Would you walk into a “mom” retailer, or down a “mom” aisle in a bricks-and-mortar store?

Also recently, we had a pleasant 140-character conversation with the friendly folks at 4moms, a baby robotics company founded in March 2006 which makes high-tech baby gear.

4moms enlightened us that its company name is derived from an initial focus group held that consisted of four mothers.

Cute and unique, indeed, but in a baby world where businesses purposely leave dads out of the parenting mix, it’s a saying that’s well-worn.

Had the name been 3moms or 5moms, we would have never taken issue with anything.  But imagine that the wildly-successful burger-maker franchise Five Guys had been named 4Guys – that means something else entirely, doesn’t it?  We’d all perceive them differently, and wouldn’t women be deservedly up in arms?

We’re sure the desire of 4moms to match true company history with the play-on-words was too good for them to pass up, but you know who gets passed up in the process?

Dads.

Dads are parents too, and it’s time businesses start listening to fathers everywhere.

Judging by its products alone, 4moms seems to have a bright future ahead.  And with a financial backing like no other in cyberspace, Amazon will probably carry on for a long time, that is, unless the recent uproar forces at least an overdue name change.

But like that lost library book, if my friend doesn’t know where these companies are or doesn’t notice them because they’re not speaking to him (he’s even a dad), then how can he find them?  They must not care about dads as customers, right?  If a product is not categorized and shelved properly like that book, do consumers stand a chance at ever finding it, enjoying it, or even using it?

If these companies really cared, perhaps they could start marketing their products to its true customers.

As in, all of them.

Making the headlines

This headline appeared in the Gainesville (Ga.) Times last month, and I suspect it went largely unnoticed across the nation.headline

Except at dadmarketing.

With this newspaper article is a headline which places a sexist stereotype on mom, and one that must surely offend both mom and dad in the process.

Is a mom’s place is in the kitchen?

Is it such that dads can’t cook, or manage to pack a lunch?

Everyone knows that the headline is the text indicating the nature of the article. The newspaper could have been more responsible with its duty and used a clearer, less offensive term, or rewritten it entirely. Who packs the lunch has nothing to do with the story’s main topic (which, by the way, is a good one), that schools are serving healthier meals than ones students bring from home.

Instead, we get a headline rich in stereotype.

We contacted the Times’ Life Editor, J.K. Devine, who kindly offered the following response: “The headline stemmed from an original Associated Press suggestion. It was chosen to show that lunches made at home are no longer healthier than schools. And for the majority of homes, I would say mother’s make the lunches.”

The second sentence really answers the question as to why it was chosen, but why use the mom reference? The third sentence explains that, which is an assumption based on old-fashioned labels society has created over time; it may or may not be true.

A better headline choice might have been: “School serving meals healthier than packed ones.”

All of this reminds me of the oft-used “Mr. Mom” title. Others seem to think it’s fine to typecast a stay-at-home dad as “Mr. Mom.” But no one would dare call a breadwinning, working mom by the title “Mr. Dad.” So why is it still fine to say that only moms make lunches? It’s not.

Finally, let’s not let the Associated Press off the hook. Its “suggestion” is one that categorizes, labels and stereotypes. It’s wrong.

The media plays such a powerful role in shaping our minds and attitudes, and it should know better.

And I always thought it was the media’s job to report the news, not create it.

With a little help from my friends

Last week dadmarketing had the pleasure of interacting with the excellent Tiny Blue Lines, a wonderful website we’re helphappy to have discovered. Highly recommended.

In our conversation, she brought up an interesting point.

You can head to our Twitter site if you want to read our discussion, but she made a comment worthy of further exploration when she said, “…props to all the dads who don’t think of (handling baby’s night feedings) as ‘helping’!”

That made us think.

In fact, it was enough to make us look up the true definition of help, which can be defined several ways, as noted at dictionary.com. Those most applicable in this case would be:

  1. To give or provide what is necessary to accomplish a task or satisfy a need; contribute strength or means to; render assistance to; cooperate effectively with; aid; assist;
  2. To make easier or less difficult; contribute to; facilitate;
  3. To be useful or profitable to.

However, when put in context with night feedings and caring for a baby – a role most associated with mom – it seems to puts dad back in the assistant/helper role, doesn’t it?

Consider the converse: if a dad was working on a car in the garage all day and mom said, “I helped my husband work on the car today,” wouldn’t that also connote feelings that she was merely an aide, or an assistant?

And then it hit us that this is one of the many reasons dadmarketing exists.

The more we can all rid the world of these labels, stereotypes and preconceived notions, the more we’ll be able to say, dad helped to feed the baby during the night, and it will simply sound like he provided what was necessary to accomplish a task, or contributed to something, or was useful.

Period.

And it won’t sound like he was only assisting his wife with one of her jobs during the night. And when a dad cooks a meal it won’t sound like he was being a good husband and helping mom out in the kitchen. And, maybe, just maybe, we can rid the use of that absurd “Mr. Mom” name.

Tiny Blue Lines’ comment was indeed thought-provoking, because props for sure, to those dads who don’t think of it as helping, but further props to those moms and dads who don’t categorize it a mom or dad job in the first place.

Not cool-ish

Coming up next week on ABC’s new sitcom, “Black-ish”: Black-ish-TV-series-ABC-logo-key-art-320x180

Hilarity ensues when Rainbow grows bored of being the stay-at-home mom and wants to get a job. But the plan backfires after Rainbow’s husband Dre tells her that her place is in the kitchen – and so does every potential employer with whom she tries to interview! Rainbow also wants to play in an adult softball league, but then it dawns on her that women can’t play sports! Once Rainbow finally realizes her place in life, she goes back to cooking, doing laundry and waiting on her family. It’s non-stop laughs from start to finish in what might be the most funny sitcom episode in the history of television – that’s “Black-ish” next Wednesday on ABC!

No, that isn’t a real promo for next week’s “Black-ish.” No one would dare dream of such a storyline.

But why is it ok the other way around?

In this past Wednesday’s episode, why was Dre made out to be the goofy dad who does next to nothing around the house? And then, when he tries to take on the so-called mom duties (itself a mockery) and switch roles, why does he have to fail miserably?

The episode certainly had its funny moments, but turning dad into a lazy, childlike character and belittling his duties in the home weren’t among them.

It has been 31 years since the “Mr. Mom” movie and we’ve made no progress whatsoever. That attitude in the entertainment world spills right into the commercials you watch and ads you read, where dad still plays assistant to the wiser mom, nodding approvingly to every decision she makes.

Even today, Hollywood still can’t find a better role for dad than mere comic relief.

Anthony Anderson as Dre is fantastic, and “Black-ish” seems like a fun sitcom with promise, but let’s hope they offer the character a little more dignity as a father – then maybe everyone can laugh with dad, and not at him.