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.

ig·nore (ĭg-nôr′) – To refuse to pay attention to; disregard

A few days ago we were fortunate to have a nice conversation with Proctor & Gamble regarding an exclusionary p&gapproach.

The talk began when we noticed its Father’s Day plug, awkwardly matched with a Twitter handle which only thanks moms (right). Here’s how it went:

  • Thank you Mom:   It’s #ThrowBackThursday! We love pics with dad! #TBT #FathersDay
  • dadmarketing:       This is awkward.
  • Thank you Mom:   Not at all. We love dads too! #ThankYouDad
  • dadmarketing:       That’s great, but your Twitter handle doesn’t really say that…
  • Thank you Mom:   Did you see our profile? I hope you’ll join us on the 18th 8-9pm for our 2nd annual #DadsJourney Twitter party.
  • dadmarketing: ‏       Love it! But again, the Twitter name…
  • Thank you Mom:    Our ‘brand’ is #ThankYouMom. Just like yours only mentions dad 😉
  • dadmarketing:        We’re a site exploring how companies market to dads, not selling a product both parents can equally buy; it’s exclusionary mktg

We want to emphasize how P&G’s use of Twitter to communicate is so impressive, and it was a true pleasure to chit-chat with a friendly social media team. However, it’s more than disappointing how companies – major companies like P&G – still ignore dads when it comes to parenting.

Now let’s take a look at the ads featured here (click to enlarge), found on back-to-back pages of a parenting magazine this month. What’scbrjohnson&johnson3 the difference between them? One includes only an image of mom, which would be fine enough on its own, but then it reinforces the mom’s-the-lead-parent-when-it-comes-to-babies agenda with accompanying ad copy that reads, “He feels Mom’s gentle touch.”

The other ad shows both mom and dad, with text that reads, “Cord blood banking isn’t just for your newborn, it’s for your whole family.”

In short, one ad speaks only to mom as a parent, another speaks to both parents – and the former is lot like P&G’s Twitter site and Olympic campaign.

Let’s say you’re at a party with your spouse, where you’re meeting lots of new people. If one of these new acquaintances is only speaking to your spouse, and not involving you in the conversation whatsoever, how might that make you feel?

It’s going to make you feel like dads feel after seeing the Johnson & Johnson ad, which make them look for a different baby soap on the store shelf. Sadly for J&J, it has a history of negating dads as parents.

Well done, CBR. As for J&J, you have some work to do.

Johnson & Johnson: taking cues from Amazon Mom

Last May, we wrote about a Johnson & Johnson ad which clearly excluded dads, and then tweeted the company of our displeasure.

Johnson & Johnson wrote back, as you can see on our Twitter site here, and assured us that it “is committed to supporting parents – moms & dads.”

Those were uplifting and encouraging words, especially from a company which plays at least some small part of everyone’s child care, usually from the very start in the hospital.

Yet here we are, nearly a year later, and J&Js marketing message hasn’t changed. Note the featured ad, where the baby only thanks mom for applying its lotion.johnson&johnson2

If you’re a dad, I suspect that right now you’re feeling abandoned by a company whose products you probably used in the hospital right upon your child’s birth. A cold shoulder like this hurts, especially if you saw that Twitter promise last May.

Sadly, Johnson & Johnson’s dad avoidance doesn’t stop with print ads, as its website is filled with examples of one exclusion after another:

  • Visit our Facebook page to share your baby’s special moments with other Moms just like you.
  • Moms around the world trust JOHNSON’S® to safely care for their babies.
  • We’re dedicated to advancing the health and well-being of women, children and families around the world.
  • We are committed to working with moms, healthcare experts and scientists to ensure our baby products continue achieving the highest JOHNSON’S® baby standards.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again:  dads count too.  We can’t expect change to happen overnight, but it has been 11 months after J&J distinctly gave us its commitment – one that sadly wasn’t kept.

Johnson & Johnson was founded in 1886 by two men who may very well have had their own family in mind when conceiving ideas for surgical dressings and sanitation practices. It has to make you wonder about its overall company mission when its marketing and communications team prefers to only speak to a select group, and blatantly ignores another.

Right this very moment, a child is born somewhere and J&J is playing a part in its care.

And also right at this very moment, J&Js marketing department has an opportunity to show dads everywhere it really cares, because as any married couple will tell you, a promise is everything.

With a little help from my friends

Last week dadmarketing had the pleasure of interacting with the excellent Tiny Blue Lines, a wonderful website we’re helphappy to have discovered. Highly recommended.

In our conversation, she brought up an interesting point.

You can head to our Twitter site if you want to read our discussion, but she made a comment worthy of further exploration when she said, “…props to all the dads who don’t think of (handling baby’s night feedings) as ‘helping’!”

That made us think.

In fact, it was enough to make us look up the true definition of help, which can be defined several ways, as noted at dictionary.com. Those most applicable in this case would be:

  1. To give or provide what is necessary to accomplish a task or satisfy a need; contribute strength or means to; render assistance to; cooperate effectively with; aid; assist;
  2. To make easier or less difficult; contribute to; facilitate;
  3. To be useful or profitable to.

However, when put in context with night feedings and caring for a baby – a role most associated with mom – it seems to puts dad back in the assistant/helper role, doesn’t it?

Consider the converse: if a dad was working on a car in the garage all day and mom said, “I helped my husband work on the car today,” wouldn’t that also connote feelings that she was merely an aide, or an assistant?

And then it hit us that this is one of the many reasons dadmarketing exists.

The more we can all rid the world of these labels, stereotypes and preconceived notions, the more we’ll be able to say, dad helped to feed the baby during the night, and it will simply sound like he provided what was necessary to accomplish a task, or contributed to something, or was useful.

Period.

And it won’t sound like he was only assisting his wife with one of her jobs during the night. And when a dad cooks a meal it won’t sound like he was being a good husband and helping mom out in the kitchen. And, maybe, just maybe, we can rid the use of that absurd “Mr. Mom” name.

Tiny Blue Lines’ comment was indeed thought-provoking, because props for sure, to those dads who don’t think of it as helping, but further props to those moms and dads who don’t categorize it a mom or dad job in the first place.

Jif, ignoring the problem only makes it worse

We seem to be on a Jif Rift lately.jifad

Part of it has to do with Jif ads on TV. They’re continuing to use the outdated, old fashioned choosy slogan that further validates they are the “Washington Redskins of Ad Slogans” (refusing to change when others say they need to). Their new ads during prime time bring back the unpleasantness into the limelight once again, so in effect they’re creating their own problems.

Another complaint has to do with their blatant snubbing of our inquiries. We’re simply trying to chat with them via Twitter, but they’re flat-out ignoring us. Herein lies the principal reason we were formed – to stop dad exclusion in marketing and advertising. It doesn’t matter how good a product is, if Jif doesn’t even listen to its consumers (i.e., dads), they’re not maximizing their potential. Period.

Odd as all that may seem (and believe us, Jif continues to get more odd everyday as they press on with this ridiculous slogan in today’s world), the fact they added their only-audible, non-print dad-add-on, “Choosy moms and dads choose Jif,” makes things even more peculiar.

Here’s what Justin Aclin of the excellent Hunter PR blog wrote on February 22:

“‘Brands get in trouble when they think having a dad in the commercial necessitates calling out that it’s a dad,’ said Chris Routly—who gained national attention when his blog The Daddy Doctrines called out a Huggies ad campaign to the point where the ads were eventually pulled—on a panel discussion called ‘Marketing to Today’s Dad.’”

As if this quote wasn’t enough, notice the image featured in this blog post. Doesn’t the photo make Jif look like a confused company when coupled with their slogan? And as we pointed out on July 17, this silly add-on only draws more attention to the fact that Jif has excluded dads for a long time.

It’s been 56 years since Jif was introduced in 1958, but it’s not too late.

Jif, please make things right and be a brand of the future, not your past – because as we consumers see it now, your past is your present.

A Walgreens surprise

I was surprised to learn that the word “hack” has exactly 19 different definitions at dictionary.com, and 24 if you count “verb phrases.” Perhapswalgreens even more surprising is the mostly negative connotations that come with the word hack: to damage, to cut ruthlessly, to kick at shins (ouch).

But we’re groomed from a very young age to believe that all surprises are a good thing, so Walgreens keeps my surprises coming. First, they not only choose to use the word hack with its latest foray into the Twitter-verse, but second, they alienate dads by putting only the word “mom” in front of it, and then hashtagging it.

As you can imagine already, this of course, is the theme of Walgreens’ newest Twitter ad campaign (pictured) that allows us to chuckle at all of our kids’ oopsies in life, which never go “according to plan,” and feature children making all kinds of laughable, silly, goofy messes.

A recent magazine ad states, “We’ve got your back, whenever and wherever you need us,” and urges us to buy their new line of Well Beginnings products (and nope, there isn’t any dad on their website to be found).

What would motivate a dad to shop at Walgreens after seeing this skewed Twitter crusade?

It sounds like their marketing people are hanging out with the Proctor & Gamble people – people who renounce or surrender individual independence, integrity, belief, in return for money in the performance of a task normally thought of as involving a strong personal commitment.

Yeah, that’s a definition of something that rhymes with “ack.” Surprise, surprise.