Beware of the unconscious bias

To see food products like Jif and Kix hold on to their timeworn, stereotypical catchphrases — all of it has reached a state of comicality. It certainly suggests absurdity and irrationality. We’re talking about peanut butter and cereal. Those products are specific to moms?

But then there are those items related to babies, and less people seem to notice the exclusionary practices tied to its marketing. Boppies were never invented solely for mothers, but they’re regularly positioned to exclude dads from messaging and thus, demote dads to secondary parental status. Similac offers baby formula – a surefire product for dads if there ever was one – yet its makers go out of their way to reject dads in messaging.

drbrowns4All of this is detrimental to families, of course, because it impedes the family from flourishing as it should without recognizing fathers as equal, competent parents.
Dr. Brown’s can now be grouped with the Boppy and Similac. They’re all products that owe us a little more, that need to try a little harder, that have a responsibility to go out of their way to ensure that dads don’t feel left out. They’re products that should regularly feature dads and speak to them in all that they do.

Go ahead and try to find a single image of a dad on the Dr. Brown’s site. Is there even one? That’s hardly representative of today’s modern families, or even families of yesteryear.

The current actions of companies like Dr. Brown’s, Boppy and Similac would be a little like Lowe’s only using men in its ads and scripting slogans and ad copy that only speaks to that one gender. And imagine the uproar if they did! Rather, they know that home improvement is hardly a gender-specific thing, even though common stereotypes indicate that power tools and outdoor work is supposedly for men.

But instead, Dr. Brown’s takes the old-fashioned route and tells us that dads don’t take drbrowns2.jpgcare of babies, or can’t bottle feed, or don’t want to. It’s all very troubling for a company that prides itself on innovation and support. And check out the disconcerting use of moms as a synonym for parent. Sorry Dr. Brown’s, but not all parents are moms, and thus, those terms can’t be succinctly substituted without leaving someone out.

Also take note of its Ambassadors program. Not only does it exclude fathers, it behaves as if they don’t exist.drbrowns5

Dr. Brown’s Twitter bio promises that its focus is “to create innovative feeding products to promote good health and optimal nutrition for baby.” If that’s true, then it’s time to make several revisions to its website and social media.

Dads want to deliver those things, too, and if someone tells him he can’t, he’s going to look elsewhere for someone who believes in him.

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Newsflash: dads are parents, too

Lately, our inbox has been hit daily with an email that defines everything wrong with dad exclusion.bestdeals4moms.png

Best Deals 4 Moms is a site which claims to offer the best deals around. It contends to be the “go-to place for the latest and greatest free stuff, deals, special offers and sweepstakes for mom and baby.” All in all, not a bad concept, except there’s just one problem: the deals aren’t exclusive to moms.

No, the offers don’t involve breastfeeding pads, feminine products, or even perfumes. The discounts featured are for items like books, groceries and restaurants.

All of it is a bit absurd, as it harkens to old-fashioned beliefs that dads aren’t involved with home life and raising children. We’ve seen these type of promotions before, but it still seems hard to believe that this organization places a focus solely on mom, passing up on the purchasing power of fathers. Studies routinely show that fathers are just as interested in deals and saving money as moms.

For having been around on Twitter since 2014, it has meager support; just 30+ people follow it on the popular social media site. And although it wouldn’t move the needle dramatically, we know one way that Best Deals 4 Moms could instantly double that figure.

Try talking to the other parent.

Is Rice Krispies really intended for only kids and moms?

Makers of breakfast foods have long been known for innovation.  New cereal and frozen foods hit the shelves regularly.

But it would seem that not everyone’s invited to the table.

Pick up any cereal box and you’ll often discover a world that speaks only to moms.  Despite all the newfound innovations in the grocery store, marketers remain convinced that the family dynamic hasn’t changed – that dads don’t take care of children, don’t tend to the home, or even spend their morning ritual with the family.ricekrispies.jpg

The Rice Krispies Twitter page reinforces this outdated stereotype with a Twitter bio (right) that excludes dads from the outset.  The exclusion is particularly surprising for a brand that’s well accepted and loved by families everywhere — families which include dads.

Its approach is surprisingly consistent with a few of its iconic shelf mates.  It wasn’t until 2015 that Cheerios changed its webpage touting itself as “Mom’s Choice.”  Kix defers to mom in both slogan and message on every box.  Even the back of Frosted Mini-Wheats exhorts kids to specifically ask mom for more.  And El Monterey has long used the hashtag #momwins throughout its social media.

Our tweets on the Rice Krispies bio recently caught the attention of Kellogg’s, but the communication fell flat when subsequent tweets weren’t returned.  We’re still waiting for what could be a quick fix and thus restore balance to the cereal shelves.

Of course, this particular cereal stretches far beyond the bowl.  The oft-duplicated rice puffs are a virtual kitchen staple, useful in many recipes around the kitchen.  Its Twitter page frequently touts its popular endearing spinoff, the Rice Krispies treat. Even its venerable mascots Snap, Crackle and Pop resonate with everyone.

Given its prowess in our daily lives, let’s hope Rice Krispies can turn things around soon and become close with dads again.

Like super close.

Like white on rice.

Cleaning up diapers: why the race for dads is on

In the world of diapers, there seems to be a sudden race to reach the long, undervalued segment of dads.

Although in some respects, the race might resemble that of a slow crawl.

Within the past month, we’ve seen the big three diaper makers – Pampers, Huggies and Luvs – all take intriguing steps toward speaking to the parent other than mom. Of course, that would be dad, the other parent who’s curiously inconspicuous from most diaper websites.

Pampers seems to be in the early lead, having quietly updated its prominent menu tabpampers2.jpg with little fanfare:  “Mommy Corner” was switched to “Parent Corner.”  Of course, Dad Marketing Headquarters noticed the change, and gave instant kudos for the fantastic, albeit minor one-word upgrade.  Fresh off its successful #PampersBabyBoard event, several dads there and elsewhere noticed the improvement and too offered their appreciation via social media.  Pampers still has a way to go to reach full parental inclusion, but tweaking a prominent communication tool like a website menu is a positive start.

Huggies, on the other hand, maintains its long-standing “Mommy Answers” menu tab, a huggies2section which ignores fathers as equal parents in more ways than one.  We’ve been in communication with its PR agency, who assures us that changes are on the way this summer.

Huggies is no stranger to controversy. Its 2012 “Have Dad Put Huggies to the Test” campaign backfired, causing its marketing team to embark on some serious damage control after one father started a “We’re dads, Huggies. Not dummies,” petition that garnered more than 1,000 signatures in less than a week.

huggies7And just this calendar year it maintained a web page at huggies.com offering the unabashed advice, “4 Ways to Get Dads to Do Diapers.”  That piece has since been removed.

Luvs also made a significant change last week:  one of its front page web sliders at luvs.com was altered after repeated nudging from our office.  It only took a simple edit to make dads everywhere feel included with its new self-proclaimed slogan:  “The Official Diaper of Experienced luvs7.pngParents.”  The only problem is, there’s other sliders on its landing page that contain other mom-only references, as well as others on its site that need updated, too.

These easy fixes are often at the core of the problem.  So often it’s a matter of a quick edit – many times a mere one word – that would make a noticeable difference.  In today’s ease-of-use content management world, they’re the kind of changes that anyone could make quick and painless within minutes.  While Huggies’ changes seem to be part of a full site-wide revision and overhaul, why wait to make uncomplicated, one-word adjustments?  Those straightforward, obvious fixes should be made right now.  All of this is part of a slow, drawn-out process and it doesn’t need to be this way.  Equality shouldn’t wait.

For now, at least a word of congrats to these diaper makers is in order.  But at the same time, no parent would let a child sit for days with an oopsie in its diaper.  So why should an exclusionary website sit unattended to, just the same?

The race is on to capitalize on the spending power of dads.  Who will win?  Keep up-to-date with this site and also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, where you can be certain we’ll stay on top of it.

If we’re in this together, you’ll have to unblock our Twitter account

Gerber has an unfortunate history of excluding dads in its direct mail pieces, on its website, and in its My program.  But things could be improving – that looks like a man’s hand feeding the baby on its website.

And a recent magazine actually acknowledges that the featured baby is a “him,” a possible future dad that will eventually be disregarded by the very company using his likeness to sell its products.

It’s another piece of a portfolio that’s confusing and erratic.

gerber4

Just look at the front page of Gerber’s website as it stands today.  If you’re a dad and reading the left side of the page, it exclaims, “We’re in this together.”  But glance to the right and you find a site that indicates it’s only “For mom.”

(sigh)

However, to top it off – at least for our staff – Gerber has blocked us from following its company on Twitter.

Now, Twitter blocking certainly has its place in life, but to prevent one entity from communicating with another?  Why?

The words close-minded and censorship come to mind.

Hey Gerber, we’re only trying to help.  Factual proof created by your very own marketing team indicates you have a practice of excluding dads, and that’s wrong.

Dads buy your products.  Dads care for children.  Dads count too.

We’d love to chat, but it’s kind of hard to do that right now.  Drop us a note.

Just some food for thought.

Will Folgers treat dads to some conversation?

The best part of wakin’ up may be Folgers in your cup, but it’s clearly not the best part when you discover that among the mere 80 Twitter accounts that Folgers follows, only 14 of them appear to be guys/dads.folgers2

The far majority are moms, which leaves us wondering: why?

With over 11,000 followers of its own, it’s a strange enough sight to see Folgers following a meagre 80. That’s the kind of behavior you see among the celebrity types, such as Conan O’Brien, who famously began following one single person – a stranger, no less – back in 2010.

However, coffee is a consumer-driven product which depends on a customer base among an ultra-competitive mix of brand name coffee makers, not to mention modest rivalries among a share of regional favorites, too.

What’s more, coffee isn’t exactly a mom-only thing. Like one of the accounts that Folgers follows, Jif mistakenly believes that only mom handles the shopping. Do birds of a feather flock together? Let’s hope not.

What do you say, Folgers? Are you up for learning more about your true representative customer base? How about listening to some of the words some dads have to say?

After all, it took a few dads to form the company Folgers has become today.  We’ll be watching.

Which insurance company has dads in good hands?

If the basic definition of marketing is “to promote something in order to sell,” then there’s no question as to whom each insurance company presented here is trying to speak.gerber2

One featured ad is actually a direct mail piece from Gerber Life Insurance Company, who for years has been regularly sending this mailer with “See what Moms are saying about…” printed right on the front. And if you’re a dad who has been surprised to receive this in the mail, that’s not the only the only thing Gerber has jumbled; scroll about one-third down here to see another way this piece misfires.

allstate1The other featured is a display ad from Allstate found in the July 2015 American Baby magazine (click to enlarge). It not only addresses all of its potential customers by using the word “families,” but it includes a photo of a family where dad is holding the baby.

So, if you’re a dad and in the market for insurance, or even a college savings plan, where are you more likely to turn? To whom is Gerber and Allstate trying to “promote something in order to sell?”

Allstate’s approach is a positive one. Companies so often follow the supposedly “safe” marketing path, misbelieving that mom is the primary household decision-maker. Allstate knows that the days of “mom-stays-at-home, dad-goes-to-work” are ancient history. Indeed, caring for the family is a responsibility handled by both mom and dad.

Gerber, on the other hand, doesn’t want to change. Keeping an iconic, recognizable logo is a wise marketing move, but ignoring potential customers isn’t. Neither is having a college savings plan that gets dubious reviews.

Ever since our first post about Gerber in January 2014 (and again later in October), it began blocking us on Twitter. It’s the only company we’ve written about who has done so, proving that in Gerber’s world, communication is a one-way street.

Allstate, on the other hand, has won dads over. Dads are in good hands, indeed.