The Trouble with Digital Media – and its Purpose

Newspaper editors have always had a difficult job. On top of ensuring that content is objective, fact-checked and accurate, they have two more daunting tasks – to ensure that content is of interest to readers and that there is space for it.

It’s the very reason that one of America’s foremost daily newspapers, The New York Times, still prints its famous slogan on the upper-left corner of page one: “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” That motto was added to insist of its intention to report the news impartially, but it also underscores a common trait of which digital media knows nothing about – space in printed media is limited.

The fact whereby digital media has no limits to the stories it can publish is also its curse. The result is a tendency to produce seemingly senseless pieces by today’s digital shock jocks who write and often opine to deliberately offend and demean – all for clicks. They are, in essence, the digital newspaper equivalent of tabloids who entertain rather than provide factual or newsworthy information.

This sort of thing happens every day, of course, but was recently noticeable in a Parents magazine online story (above). It’s hard to imagine why else one mom’s attempt to ridicule her husband gets this kind of attention on a national level.

Only on a digital platform.

Maybe if we stop keeping score, stop pointing fingers and simply encourage, uplift and treat everyone equal – and in the way we speak to others – we won’t need a useless headline like this.


Is This Really a ‘Parents’ Magazine?

Parents Magazine has provided much inspiration for our recent social media posts. For a magazine that purports to be for “parents,” its readers and the parenting community might insist otherwise. But don’t take our or others’ words for it. Check out Parents Magazine’s very own content and you be the judge.

Dads love making and serving their kids healthy snacks, too. Why does Parents Magazine insist on making mom look like the only one who cares about nutrition?

This is another example of a headline that makes mom out to be the lead parent.

Don’t dad-tested discipline tricks work? “Parent-tested” would have been much more appropriate.

Here’s a way to increase male readership — mention them, involve them, ask them, survey them, talk about them. There’s no better way to engage someone with your mission than to make them feel like they matter.

It starts at the top

You’ve seen these kind of ads in the back of magazines before. They’re a collection of magazine advertisers, sort of a parentsclassified ads section.

What gets me is how Parents magazine wants it both ways.

On one hand, they’re trying to appease to moms and dads by giving the magazine the name it has, yet when it comes right down to it, both stories and ads in nearly every issue largely speak only to moms.

It’s laughable how editors don’t even realize what they’re doing. Note the small print at the top: a Parents magazine logo, followed by the words, “Must-haves and must-dos for mom and family.”

So is this section for parents, or just moms?

Then you have the “Baby Depot Savvy Mom, Happy Baby Sweepstakes.” (The contest title is goofy enough: are dads not savvy, resulting in unhappy babies?) But here’s the real kicker:  the contest was open to any legal resident 18 years and older – that means dads were allowed to enter a mom contest! Kind of reminds you of this weirdness, doesn’t it?

So, in one fell swoop we have dad exclusion, a contest not fully thought-out, and a marketing blunder that leaves egg on the face of both Parents magazine and Baby Depot.

It just goes to show you that it starts at the top.

Parents magazine could have talked to the advertiser about their contest gaffe, but without practicing what they preach (as in the magazine’s name), it’s hard to put the blame entirely on Baby Depot.

Let’s get back to the basics, Parents magazine. If you’re truly a mag for both mom and dad, start acting like it – and your advertisers will, too.

Really cheesy

If roughly 64 percent of mothers are working moms, and the proportion of working moms has gone up 800 percent since 1860, then who’s feeding kids after-school snacks?babybel

Not dads, according to the marketing team at Babybel.

We found another discouraging ad in the October 2014 Parents magazine which makes dads feel like they don’t count. That ad is from Babybel, who used two simple words (“Attention Moms!”) to change the entire focus and feel of this print ad.

It’s not like we see Babybel advertising during primetime TV or in USA Today, so when they do spend their advertising dollar we suspect they need to get a hit during every at-bat. That’s what makes this ad even more disappointing. They placed it in, not a mothers-only magazine, but Parents magazine, where they had a chance to market to both moms and dads. Instead, they came up flat.

Ironically, Babybel’s website proclaims their cheese to be “the snack your whole family will love.” That seems difficult to believe, as they single-handedly made dads to be nonexistent when it comes to providing the after-school snack.

At the bottom of the ad, Babybel’s message ends with “Let’s be friends.”

That’s a tough request for dads to consider. They weren’t even asked in the first place.

Bad medicine

Change is hard for products stuck in the past, but for a company that’s brand new it may be easier to look drcocoamodern and get things correct right from the start.

Take for instance, sports nicknames. If I started a new professional sports franchise, do you think there’s any chance I’m going to choose an antiquated and offensive team name like the Redskins, Indians, or Chiefs?

No. Way.

So what in the name of Jif Peanut Butter is going on with new children’s medicine Dr. Cocoa?

If you’ve been unlucky enough to get your hands on a copy of the October 2014 Parents magazine, you’ll notice that there’s an ad for a new kids medicine called Dr. Cocoa (pictured). In Dr. Cocoa’s advertising world, dads simply don’t count.

Dr. Cocoa continues to perpetuate the unfortunate notion that dads don’t really take care of sick kids at night. That’s supposedly what moms do, and dads are pinch hitters at best.

There’s nothing like introducing a new product with a decent premise and completing blowing the premiere by alienating dads right from the start.

And I thought owls were supposed to be “wise” creatures.

The Grinch who stole Father’s Day

No matter how long we live, we all have this same statistic in common: we got to spend (roughly) nine months being held exclusively by our mothers. Life expectancy aside, and speaking solely in general terms, mothers will have always had at least nine more months than fathers to hold their children.

During pregnancy, of course, fathers have the chance to touch the belly, but there’s a barrier in the way. Fathers can experience a baby kick, but the sensation for the mother and child are one and the same. Fathers can talk and sing to the infant inside the mother’s womb, but babies not johnson&johnsononly hear the mother’s voice – they feel it.

I once heard a woman tell the story how their child died upon birth. She asked the nurses to let the dad, not her, be the first to hold their child, because he naturally never got to during the pregnancy. Besides, it was the first, only, and last time he would embrace their child all in the same instance.

Mothers have the exclusive, honored gift of carrying children. That’s special. That 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.

However, Johnson & Johnson’s latest ad artlessly exudes and radiates exclusion. It doesn’t take a deep thinker to see that dads, plain and simple, are crudely left out of this marketing message. What’s more, the advertisement is ironically straight out of the June 2014 Parents magazine, which includes a special reading section specifically for dads, timed knowingly for Father’s Day.

That’s some holiday present from Johnson & Johnson, huh dads? A sucker punch below the belt, followed by a kick in the teeth, finished off with salt in the wounds.

I expected more from this company so synonymous with baby care. No head-to-toe wash around is going to clean up this mess.