A picture is worth a thousand hugs

toysrusSure, this featured email promo from Toys”R”Us is a gratuitous Father’s Day message which ran this past June 21, likely the lone time during the year you’ll see a dad-specific message from the giant toy retailer.

Today, however, that’s not of our concern.

Take another look at the ad. The copy is creative. The design is clean. The look is simple.

And, whoa, is that a child is hugging a dad?

That act – the hug – is the kind of thing normally unassociated with the stiff, rigid, unexpressive, stereotypical father, right? So often we typically see hugs and kisses for mom at Mother’s Day, and a lot of tools and neckties for dad on Father’s Day. It’s unfair labeling where we’ve been conditioned by companies to think that only moms are the caring, nurturing ones at home, while dad’s true love must be work since he’s there most of the day, hence the tie.

So when it comes to expressions toward dad, it’s less common to see hugs in advertisements. You might see hand holding or a shoulder ride at best, but a hug for dad is rare in ads.

We applaud the creative team at Toys”R”Us for presenting what others can’t: a deep tenderness and affection toward dad.

This is exactly the kind of move that tells dads, “We know you’re out there, and we value you; we’re talking to you, and we want you as customers.” It presents dads in a caring light as the nurturers they really are, and speaks to them through solid marketing messages that evoke emotion.

Nice work Toys”R”Us, and we look forward to seeing repeat performances not just in June, but throughout the year.

That’s because rumor has it, more than one dad has visited all of your 865 stores before.

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One small tweet from Maggie, one giant leap for change

A few days ago we retweeted a story about this young girl who fought back against a sexist sign, and ultimately claimed victory as the sign was removed.maggie

Her modest, ingenious and charming complaint challenged the higher beings at a store in England, and executives listened.

Way to go, Maggie!

Her protest got us thinking about the foolishness of Jif’s tagline, Choosy Moms Choose Jif.

If a young girl can get the attention of a large retailer, why can’t Jif take inventory of its own sexist practice? Doesn’t their parent company, Smucker’s, want to market their goods to all and be perceived as a modern, progressive, with-the-times business? What does their four-word marketing message say to households without a mom present?

We’ve discussed some of Jif’s plight before, and again, and yet again.

Jif’s stale slogan was created decades ago, during a bygone era when mothers generally handled cooking, cleaning and household shopping. Jif is essentially hanging that chore on mom in present day, and indirectly, the cooking and cleaning, too.  Doesn’t Jif’s approach remind you a little of this?

Yes, even as the year 2015 looms, an embarrassing, inane catchphrase has long passed the old-fashioned phase; in today’s world, the saying looks downright irrational.

The interesting thing about Maggie’s dispute is that despite its marvelous simplicity, it only changed in-store wording for the better. For example, another major retailer, ToysRUs, still categorizes shopping selections as “Boys’ Toys” and “Girls’ Toys.”

So, in theory, little has changed and her fight could still go on.

Jif, on the other hand, is so stuck in time and dead set in its ways that we know there’s still a long way to go toward making things right. Jif is indeed a tough peanut to crack (they won’t even respond to us, or acknowledge us), but we know at least one 7-year-old who could bring the entire empire to its knees.

What do you say, Maggie?