A fine ad, but what’s with Walmart Moms?

mixedsignalsIf you’ve been following this website since the beginning, you know we’ve focused on a variety of ways in which dads are portrayed in marketing, advertising and media.

We’ve featured companies, media channels, sports, entertainment avenues, service organizations, as well as some general ideas of our own.

When it comes to the products we buy and consume every day, it is the retailers who exert immense power. Their prices affect our overall budget. They decide what’s on sale. They decide where it’s placed in the store. They shape our buying habits, and often turn items that “I want” into “I need.”

The retailer at the top of the list, of course, is none other than Walmart. With 4,779 stores nationwide, it’s responsible for $482 billion in annual sales, and no other store comes even close.

When we wrote about Walmart on January 7, we were disappointed by an ad featured in the October 2014 American Baby magazine.

walmart2But now, almost one full year after that magazine ad we discover a change in Walmart’s ways with an advertisement so impressive (featured left), it will no doubt get everyone’s attention in the retailing world. Hopefully it will turn heads and change the way others operate and market their products and services.

Check out this list of the top retailers from last year.  If you’re reading this Kroger, Costco, Target, Home Depot, et al, your friends at Walmart have officially raised the bar.

That doesn’t mean, however, that Walmart is officially the leader in dad-friendly marketing. This ad was a hit, but another part of its portfolio is a clear miss.

That’s because it still insists on offering “Walmart Moms,” a practice that wouldn’t seem so sexist if it offered a dadly counterpart. The old fashioned use of this biased name fosters the misbelief that mom is the lead parent, and dad is merely an assistant.

We call for an end to this chauvinist exercise by renaming the program “Walmart Parents.”

What do you say Walmart?

walmart5Walmart’s approach shows that it’s at odds with its own self. By offering a fantastic ad showing dad in a positive light as an involved parent, and then disregarding dad’s parental abilities through the exclusionary Walmart Mom program, it’s sending mixed signals to dads everywhere.

We’ve debunked the moms are the lead shoppers fallacy so many times over it’s hardly worth doing again, so we’ll let another group do it.

Again, Walmart here offers one quality ad and a fantastic step in the right direction. But as for Walmart Mom, it reminds us of another dad exclusionary marketing campaign that’s taken a beating this year.

Perhaps it’s time for Walmart to be proactive (like the Today Show), rather than reactive, and let dads know that they matter as consumers.

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Get real, Hilton

Mega hotel chain Hilton claims to offer a blog about “real families and their travels.”

But there’s just one small problem with that description, because if Hilton’s world is truly reality, then only about 7 percent of dads are traveling. Among its team of 15 bloggers writing about so-called “real families and their travels,” hiltonit’s only authored by one dad.

One dad!

But what we find even more disturbing is that the blog is called, “Hilton Mom Voyage.”

If that title doesn’t strike a nerve with moms and dads alike, it should. In Hilton’s realism, the word mom has become the generic term for parent, strong enough to stamp out the word dad from even existing.

We received news of this messed-up marketing campaign from an email titled, “Real moms give real travel tips,” a partnership with P&G, who has an Olympic-sized history of banishing dads from marketing through its self-proclaimed tagline, “Proud sponsor of Moms.”

We have no problem with real moms giving real travel tips. If moms want to give other moms, or even dads, some tips or advice, have at it. Both genders can benefit from a motherly perspective.

However, when the site’s focus is to offer experiences about real families, and pair it with a blog title that outright excludes dads, that’s when Hilton is sorely missing the mark.

Hilton may want to have a conversation with NBC News and The Today Show, where this past summer its online “TODAY Moms” web section was replaced with the less offensive and more inclusive, if not more modern, “TODAY Parents.” Its rationale is outstanding, but still, why did it take so long to make the change?

Back in the 1950s and 60s, the show employed “Today Girls” (no, they didn’t use all-caps then), who discussed fashion and lifestyle, reported the weather, and covered lighter-fare stories. The last woman to hold that position was Barbara Walters, who said nobody would take a woman seriously reporting hard news back then.

Yet, here we are some 50-60 years later, and dads are not taken as serious parents by Hilton.

When will Hilton make the easy fix that TODAY wisely did? Only Hilton can answer that.

In the meantime, the reality is, there are plenty of other hotel chains where dads and moms can take their business until Hilton realizes that dads like to voyage, too.