Start spreading the news

Ever since Dad Marketing was founded, we’ve always preached that it’s both the mom and dad who are expecting, not just mom. newyorkbabyshow2.jpg

That might sound strange to some, not just because it’s women who physically carry children, but it’s also because of the way media and marketing shape our thoughts. They’ve conditioned us via advertising imagery and word choice that moms are primary parents:

“More Moms choose the Similac Brand.”
“Thank You Mom by P&G.”
“Moms around the world trust Johnson’s to safely care for their babies.
“See what Moms are saying about the Gerber Grow-Up Plan.”

These words are prominent messages in the public eye telling us that moms are the full-time parents, and dad is merely a part-time helper, at best.

newyorkbabyshow.pngAnd yet, every so often we encounter an organization who Gets It, who realizes that dads matter every bit to the parenting world as moms – and the idea speaks to dads, and markets to them, and listens to them. Suddenly, dads matter and are valued as true parents and customers.

We offer our highest Seal of Approval to the New York Baby Show, who fully acknowledges dads as equal parents. There they exclaim that “parents” are expecting, not just mom.

Keep up the good work New York Baby Show. People notice your inclusion, and someday, everyone will want to be a part of it.

How to sell breastfeeding to both moms and dads

medela1Whatever Medela is paying the people who handle its marketing and communications – it’s not enough.

Just take a look at this marvelous ad, which includes families of all shapes and sizes, plus ad copy that doesn’t exclude any one member of the family.  And while you gaze, bear in mind what this company is all about:  it’s a staunch supporter of breastfeeding, and nothing else.  Read what its company founder calls its “Breastfeeding Support Pledge”:

“We pledge our dedication to breastfeeding as the best nutrition for babies and families.  We further pledge that our breastfeeding accessory products and literature shall never be used to influence mothers to switch from breastfeeding to infant formula feeding.  Nor shall our breastfeeding accessory products and literature be used in any way to promote artificial baby milk.” – Olle Larsson, Founder of Medela.

medela2So if there was ever a company that could be excused for playing the dad omission card (not that it’s ever right), Medela would be it.  But they don’t stoop to that inappropriate level – they include dads on its website, in print, and employ complete, inclusionary words like “family,” “parents” and “parenthood” on a consistent basis.

The converse of this wonderment, of course, is Similac – a company which sells formula, which is arguably, intrinsically built-in for dual-parent use.  Yet, Similac takes every opportunity to exclude dads from its messaging.

For further irony, check out comparable ad copy from each ad:

  • Medela:  “…breastfeeding looks different for each family.”
  • Similac:  “There’s no ‘one-formula-fits-all’ for babies, or for parenting, either.” 

While these lines are similar in nature, one walks the talk – the other just talks, because the latter isn’t backed by consistent communication through photography, social media or website use.

Medela deserves Dad Marketing’s highest Seal of Approval for demonstrating that breastfeeding involves both parents, and for not propagating the unfair perception that parenting should be directed by one gender.

Can’t dad use a Boppy?

Last month we came across a thought-provoking post titled “Needlessly gendered products for men.” There’s actually several articles on this topic, so consider reading at least one of them via your friendly neighborhood browser.boppy9

Anyway, that post made us consider the many needlessly gendered slogans which exist, phrases which promote products unnecessarily aimed at one gender:

Jif Peanut Butter – to its credit – is slowly releasing the stranglehold it has on its timeworn phrase, but it’s still hard to believe the CEOs of these companies continue to cling on to these old-fashioned, sexist slogans, allowing their marketers to intentionally discount the viability of at least half of its customer base, particularly with products that have nothing to do with gender.

Alas, peanut butter is no more a feminine product than watching football is intended solely for men.

boppydadBut then you have some products which seem to bemuse our perception, products which have been marketed for so long, positioned in such a convincing way and aimed at a certain audience that we’ve come to believe its use was envisioned strictly for one gender.

That’s certainly the case with the Boppy, which for 26 years has made us believe it is a breastfeeding pillow.  For starters, go ahead and visit boppy.com and notice your browser, which reads “nursing pillow.”

Its website is loaded with mom-only references, and yet you may be surprised to know the product was never intended for nursing.

According to this story, inventor Susan Brown came up with the idea in 1989 when, her daughter’s day care center requested parents to bring in pillows to prop up infants. Brown’s idea for a horseshoe-shaped pillow soon came about, but Brown never invented it for the sole purpose of breastfeeding:

“Now it’s almost embarrassing to admit, but when people started using it for breast-feeding, I was like, ‘Oh, yeah.  Of course,’” she said.

boppy11A brief reflection upon its own history and founding – and a glance at its own latest ad – may encourage Boppy to return to its roots.  Check out the bottom of this ad, where Boppy describes four of its product’s core uses, none of which have to do exclusively with moms (while physical breastfeeding does, general feeding – the word used in the ad – doesn’t).

If a Boppy can do all these things, why exclude dads from its marketing and ignore dads’ contributions to parenting?

Yet it specifically proclaims the Boppy to be mom’s domain.  It’s another unfortunate exclusionary tale which makes us wonder at least four times over:  why not use the word “parent” instead of “mom”?  Replacing that word would no longer alienate dads, it wouldn’t make moms turn the page in revolt, and Boppy would position itself as a true baby product for both parents.boppy12

It’s a little ironic that Boppy references “boy bands” is its clever headline.  Several members of those ‘90s bands are now dads, and rumor has it that some of them even use a Boppy.

What do you say Boppy?  Twenty-six years is a long time, but it’s time to start recognizing both genders as equal parents.

You may look like a dad, but we’re going to call you a mom

similac13It would’ve been great to be a fly on the wall when the male model (featured in this ad) got the call from his talent agent to appear in this Similac magazine ad:

Agent: How’s my favorite client?
Model: I’m good.
A: Great news – I landed you a new photo shoot for a parents magazine ad.
M: That’s cool. What’s the company?
A: Similac.
M: Similac?
A: You know, they make baby formula.
M: Oh, right.
A: Anyway, they want you to appear in a grocery store aisle holding a cute little baby.
M: Simple enough.
A: But there’s one catch…
M: What’s that?
A: They want to call you a mom.
M: (Momentary pause) A mom? But I’m a guy.
A: I know, I know. You’ll still be playing the part of a dad, but you see, their tagline is “Welcome to the Sisterhood of Motherhood.”
M: But dads aren’t moms.
A: True, but Similac likes to use “mom” as a synonym for “parent.”
M: (Awkward silence) But isn’t baby formula the perfect product to sell to dads, especially since they can’t breastfeed?
A: Right again, but they don’t need dads as customers.
M: Why not?
A: Because they say only women take care of kids and shop.
M: But I shop.
A: You’re single. When you get married and have kids, you don’t shop anymore. That’s a mother’s job.
M: That seems kind of sexist.
A: But Similac is paying you big money to look and act like a dad. (Awkward silence) They just want to call you a mom.
M: Now it all makes sense. Where do I sign?

Once again, Similac takes the shared role of parenting and needlessly genders its product – thus turning it into a mothers-only thing. It’s all the more troubling because they (gasp), used the word “parent” twice in its ad copy, only to follow up with its obdurate tagline. It concludes with a partisan invitation for only moms to converse further on social media.

The ad looks even more abnormal when you consider its “sisterhood” theme of supporting the choice between breast- and bottle-feeding – and then reflect on the same underlying “choice” theme in this particular heading – with a dad included. Breastfeeding and a dad?

We like to think that, at some point, Similac will discontinue this madness of posing dads in ads and calling them mothers in a sisterhood, but it has company when it comes to miscasting roles.

 

 

Marketers could learn a lot from the NFL

Statistics and ratings indicate that more men attend, watch and follow the NFL in greater numbers than women.  Take a casual look at fantasy football leagues, and those numbers widen even more.nfl

So if it were the case, you could forgive the NFL for targeting males in its advertising.  But being the wise, billion-dollar enterprise it is, you’ll hardly find its 32 teams (total worth: $63 billion) spending its marketing dollar only where the big money is located.

Rather, it places a strong emphasis on women, and wouldn’t dare make the catastrophic mistake of alienating an important part of its fan base.

So, no, the NFL won’t be unveiling new marketing slogans this season which focus on one gender, such as:

  • Choosy dads choose the NFL (Jif)
  • Kid tested, father approved (Kix)
  • Support for all dadkind (Boppy)
  • Welcome to the brotherhood of fatherhood (Similac)
  • #DadsKnow (Juicy Juice)
  • #DadWins (El Monterey)
  • Created by a dad for dads (Jesben)
  • For dad. For kids. From the beginning. (MyGerber)
  • Good for dads. Awesome for kids. (Capri Sun)

(You might note that none of these items referenced are feminine products.)

The NFL knows how to be popular and prosperous, so currently you see a successful, inclusive slogan like, “Football is Family.”

good2growAll of this makes the communication from good2grow so unusual, who claims to be “a family owned and operated company” with “one simple goal—creating wholesome, nutritious drinks in irresistible packaging kids love.”good2grow2

The juxtaposition is unusual, because families include dads, and in general, kids love their dads.  So if good2grow wants to create a product kids love, it should consider the other half of its customer base, which also includes boys, many of whom will eventually become dads.  Right now, it’s not speaking to dads in print, or on its website.

What do you say, good2grow?  Can dads be a part of your team?

Your opinion matters! We’d love to hear it! Sort of…

similac12We recently met a couple expecting their first child, who received a nice little starter gift in the mail – a free trial pack of Similac formula.  They’re not sure exactly how they obtained it, but suspect the address-sharing-snowball-effect commenced once the couple merely signed up for a baby registry.

But they didn’t care how it happened, they were thrilled.

Three canisters of Similac formula might not seem like much in the scope of a baby’s life, nor will it last terribly long when the child starts devouring bottles every five minutes. However, with the cost of formula being a small fortune, the package was a welcome surprise, and a classic example of product sampling.

The whole experience was a win-win for both the parents and Similac.

Or was it?

As the father happily dug through the box and its enclosed Similac literature, he felt his Daddy-Sense tingling.

What he noticed was something quite curious about the entire package as a whole.  What he noticed was – it wasn’t for him.

It was for his wife.

He doesn’t recall whose name was on the address label.  That didn’t matter.  What mattered was its message.

Similac had sent this wonderful surprise, a sample package of its valuable products to this first time excited couple, yet Similac couldn’t have cared less whether the dad was in the picture or not.

Never mind the fact that this dad is to be every bit as responsible as the mom for raising this child.  Or that the dad cares very much about what he’ll be feeding his child.  Or that neither parent possesses any more instinctual ability than the other to rear this child.  Or that the dad plans to personally shop for formula in stores and online.  Or that in this particular case, the dad’s salary will provide the sole means to purchase this very product.

Or never mind that – and here’s the real kicker – from a pure marketing perspective, baby formula is intrinsically built-in for dad use. Yes, we’re not sure why Similac needs us to point this out, but guys can’t physically nurse children.  To be sure, Similac should be pushing its product with dads every chance it gets.  They are arguably Similac’s most prized and integral customers!

Rather, this dad had to open the package and find literature, such as the featured card, which paradoxically wants opinions.

Just not his.

That point was reinforced in the card’s opening sentence, where it mentioned only mom by name, as well as the ‘StrongMoms Rewards’ logo at the bottom.

This shaky attempt at quantitative data essentially leaves the search out of research, whereby Similac ignores a whopping half of the parenting duo by making dads transparent.  All this, despite this and every dad’s shared ability to mix formula in a bottle, yet have no physical means to breastfeed.

It’s another frustrating dropped ball from the marketing team at Similac, which sadly, we’ve seen before.

The whole experience is a massive Simi-lack of judgment.

Fresh perspective from Baby Brezza

babybrezza1Companies like Similac only wish to target its product to mothers, because unfortunately, it still believes that moms solely handle the reins when it comes to feeding babies.

But then you have different companies like Baby Brezza, who offer a progressive, free-thinking approach to its marketing and advertising.

Check out its latest ad (featured), which uses the inclusive word, “parenting.”

Imagine how different this ad would have looked had it chosen to use the word “mothering” instead of “parenting.”

Even with a photo that only includes mom, by using that complete, all-encompassing term, it makes dads feel like they’re being spoken to – like they count.

Over at babybrezza.com, you’ll find a site that mimics the ad, where uses of parenting abound, just as the testimonials impressively reference non-biased terms such as “families” and “parents.” The videos also include dad feeding baby, and includes a special section “Kitchen Time with Dad.”

It’s no wonder Baby Brezza received awards from Parent Tested Parent Approved and the National Parenting Center.

Keep up the good work, Baby Brezza.