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.

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.