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The Rice Krispies Twitter page reinforces this outdated stereotype with a Twitter bio (right) that excludes dads from the outset.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.

Soggy cereal

What exactly does this Twitter bio say about dads? And if you are a dad, what is it saying to you?momsbestcereals1

In our estimation, it’s saying that you don’t count, the company isn’t talking to you, and it doesn’t want your business.

What’s strange about MOM Brands is that it adopted its exclusionary name in 2012. No, that’s not 1912, but 2012 – as in, three years ago!

Jif adopted its discriminatory slogan decades ago, and same for Kix’s mom-centric box, while Similac has been ignoring fathers nearly since its beginning.

But 2012? It’s hard to imagine a company looking so old-fashioned in today’s equality-hungry, politically correct world that strives to include everyone and even blur the lines between, say, toys and clothes. Alas, MOM Brands has found a way to make even cereal buying sexist, because dads apparently do not know best.

What’s equally bizarre about MOM Brands is how they proclaim to have made the name change to reflect “the company we are now. We’ve been family-owned since 1919…” and “We’re really proud of the fact that we’ve saved families over one billion dollars since 2007.”

But don’t families include dads, too?

Apparently not, according to MOM Brands, or it might recognize them by name – or at least on Twitter.

It’s hard to stomach this say-one-thing, do-another corp-speak, especially since MOM Brands seems like a rather progressive group. We admire its innovative packaging that’s helping to keep its cost (and customers’) down. Its variety and tastes are every bit good as the next cereal brand.

But that name. And that Twitter bio.

Both are enough to make dads reach for something else. Chances are, they already have, but it won’t be easy: marketers of the cereal industry seem insistent that only moms have the ability to put breakfast food on the table, and/or mom’s place is in the kitchen.

Alas, cereal makers are stuck in time (see #7).

It’s quite the reversal from the days when pa would gather and hunt for what the family needed.

MOM Brands says it’s taking the saying “’mom knows best’ to the next level,” and perhaps that’s a good thing.

Maybe, just maybe, that “next level” might include dads in the future.

I don’t wanna taco about it

Now we’re really confused. El Monterey, makers of authentic Mexican frozen foods, has a Twitter page that outright discriminates against dads, yet it was founded by a father and his son.elmonterey1

Don’t believe us? Check out twitter.com/elmonterey, which has a bio reading, “We’re a family owned company dedicated to helping mom conquer her day,” and also includes a #momwins campaign.

If the bio wasn’t exclusionary enough, the #momwins hashtag certainly creates a senseless rift. After all, if mom wins, then where does that leave dad?

We know, we know, its marketing department would tell us that dad wins, too, by way of the delicious food served, but that age-old corporate speak would be missing the point.

elmonterey2This sort of old-fashioned marketing is a tired approach that’s sure to make dad feel left out. If this company really believes the fallacy that dad doesn’t handle kitchen duty (which in turn implies that mom’s place is squarely in the kitchen — ouch), wouldn’t it be all the more reason to promote its easy-to-make, freezer-to-oven products directly to dads themselves?

elmonterey3Oddly, #momwins doesn’t appear on its website, but is used more regularly on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest — all of which could be correctly rather easily.

Many here at dadmarketing headquarters have purchased and enjoyed El Monterey products in the past, but that practice is coming to a sudden stop. Instead of #momwins, it’s now #everybodyelseloses. Isn’t that a calamitous case of marketing gone awry?

Let’s hope its marketing department can make a change for the better, as it reflects on its “family owned” slogan, knowing that dads count as part of the family, too.