One of These Things is Not Like the Other: How Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are Treated Differently in Advertising

In basic form, the cherished holidays of Mother’s and Father’s Day are quite similar. Each intends to honor mom and dad through a celebration of the parental bond, offer tribute to relevant roles in the family and give thanks for the gift of life.

In advertising, however, things play out different. Companies tend to market each holiday with much disparity. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

For Mother’s Day, buybuy Baby highlighted a unique promotion titled, “Mompreneurs,” which showcased several mom-owned brands. For its Father’s Day messaging, there was no mention of Dadpreneurs, let alone dads – only a sale related to baby showers.

NUK offered a wonderful message for Mother’s Day. For Father’s Day, its advertising cupboard was bare.

Similarly, Huggies offered a cute note to moms yet nothing for dads. This was consistent with its social media messaging, which left some parents scratching their heads in June.

Little Debbie had similar holiday ads, but you’ll note subtle differences. One encouraged customers to celebrate moms through its display of a nurturing image. The other assured that dads love to eat sweets, and did not share any comparable photos.

Owlet took an approach often used on Mother’s Day. Namely, moms need rest. However, that same tactic wasn’t applied on Father’s Day. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find that notion used by anyone on Father’s Day. This is a conundrum, of course – what dad doesn’t need sleep, too?

Healthy Family Project offered some fantastic brunch recipes and ideas for Mother’s Day. But for dads, not one speck of food was left in the email, not even a crumb too small for a mouse.

Munchkin ads are a curious lot. It’s easy to infer they were written by females when you analyze the wording. The dad ad spoke directly to moms: “Get the new father figure a gift he’ll love.” But on Mother’s Day it doesn’t work the other way around. Instead, it also speaks to moms: “Mama, you deserve the best.” Copy writers might consider the voice when crafting ads. After all, what would motivate a father to purchase a product when they’re not being spoken to in the first place?

Papa Johns used that voice more effectively. Both ads spoke to either gender, or kids, or both. You also didn’t see pink, blue or any gender specific color. Its noble approach didn’t ignore, judge, or label. Of course, Papa Johns could have played up its gender specific name but didn’t need to. Well done, Papa.

Premama made a thoughtful attempt to console during what are difficult holidays for some. But both ads, like Munchkin, were directed at females. Imagine how much more connected fathers might have felt to a company that excludes in name but offers more to men than meets the eye.

Canvas Champ offered fun, eye-catching images which both portrayed nurturing. However, it forgot three important words: Happy Father’s Day.

Advertising Equality Matters

Changing the way we view, treat, and market to dads is necessary because there is a lot at stake. Dads represent half the parenting population. That equates to a significant loss of revenue, and profit, for companies and businesses not catering to the dad demographic. Also at risk is the image of dads as parents for this and future generation of boys and girls who will eventually become parents and potential consumers themselves.

A critical look at how the media shapes our opinions through these holidays should encourage us to change the way we think about, view and treat dads.

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.