Plum Organics and Fatherly inspiring parents who struggle with work-life balance

Being a dad has never been easy, and today’s father might deal with more than any generation in the past.

Consider just a few of the conditions affecting dads nowadays:  kids’ desires for unlimited access to social media websites, the seemingly slippery slope of sexualized media, incessant materialism, shifting economies, and the constant worry of violence in schools, if not everywhere.fatherly2

It’s a nonstop pace of life with which dads can hardly keep up.  Today’s plugged-in world might offer pockets of freedom here and there, but the sad trade-off is the expected work accessibility, no matter the time of day.

It hardly lets them have time to be, well, dads.

And that’s when the experts of Plum Organics and Fatherly decided to team up to take a close look at the work-life balance in relation to Plum’s successful Parenting Unfiltered campaign.

“Starting with our ‘Chief Dad’ and co-founder, Neil Grimmer, and bridging to other dads like me, we have in leadership roles at Plum today,” said Ben Mand, SVP marketing and innovation, Plum Organics.  “Plum has a long history of advocating for caregiving, hands-on working dads everywhere.  So when we decided to tackle work-life integration for Parenting Unfiltered, Fatherly, through their unique focus on millennial dads, was the perfect partner.”fatherly1

The two entities are using the award winning #ParentingUnfiltered campaign – found notably at parentingunfiltered.com – to shine a light on the challenges surrounding work-life integration.  Both believe the topic affects their brand, their consumers and American families.

“Together, we hope to inspire parents – particularly fathers, who struggle to be valued as caregivers both at home and at work, to take the filter off,” said Mand.  “We want to catalyze candid discussions about what we can all do (as spouses, colleagues, employees, employers) to make the landscape better for everyone.”

fatherly3Though Fatherly came into existence around two and a half years ago, the site launched just last April as a go-to source for all things ‘dad.’ It made an instant splash when it unveiled its “50 best places to work for new dads,” garnering stories with several national media outlets, including USA Today and others.

But it was Fatherly’s unique focus on millennial dads that offered the perfect match for Plum’s campaign.

“(Plum Organics) told us about their Parenting Unfiltered campaign, which struck a chord with us,” said Mike Rothman, co-founder and CEO, Fatherly.  “It was a real authentic voice with a sense of unvarnished truth. They were looking to portray all the messier moments in parenting.”

The partnership’s different facets explore the complex state of working parents in America, which includes an ethnographic report; expert interviews with Stew Friedman of Wharton’s “Work-Life Integration Project” and Anne Marie Slaughter, author of the viral article “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All”; and, videos featuring an array of working parents from the street, each with poignant personal stories.

Slaughter’s article was originally printed in The Atlantic, and turned out to be the most popular article it has ever published.

The partnership has already surfaced some fresh, unfiltered thinking and actionable solutions that’ll help dads everywhere get to a better place. Some companies are already looking at more family-friendly work policies.

“The results were really inspiring and challenging,” said Rothman.  “We’re looking at the nitty-gritty to broader issues.  It’s a really amazing conversation. In that sense, we were able to take this content online into the real world.  There are people struggling with these issues.”

plumorganics3Plum notes that 75 percent of working parents are unhappy with their work-life balance, but are afraid to bring it up at the office, and, almost one in three parents have even faked being sick to meet a family obligation.  As such, Rothman is proud of a campaign that talks about an issue which really wasn’t discussed head-on before, even as recent as 10 years ago.

“There are a lot of companies who realize this isn’t just good marketing and communications, this is good for the bottom line of the company,” Rothman said.  “Friedman has been able to prove that this isn’t just a marketing issue – you’ll improve your company.  That’s part of the conversation that needs to happen.”

Rothman also notes that the way dads are portrayed in marketing and advertising is improving.

“Brands are wisening up,” he said.  “Increasingly, it’s no longer just mom, it’s talking about parents.  Marketers are catching themselves when they’re talking about just moms, because it’s about dads, too.”

For now, both Plum and Fatherly are excited to change the way parents look at work and how it affects their families.

“There’s a lot of legs to look at this in different ways,” Rothman said.  “I would expect to collaborate with the Plum folks to take this campaign a bit further.  It is really great for us because there aren’t as many (companies) that are as progressive as Plum.”

 

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Really cheesy

If roughly 64 percent of mothers are working moms, and the proportion of working moms has gone up 800 percent since 1860, then who’s feeding kids after-school snacks?babybel

Not dads, according to the marketing team at Babybel.

We found another discouraging ad in the October 2014 Parents magazine which makes dads feel like they don’t count. That ad is from Babybel, who used two simple words (“Attention Moms!”) to change the entire focus and feel of this print ad.

It’s not like we see Babybel advertising during primetime TV or in USA Today, so when they do spend their advertising dollar we suspect they need to get a hit during every at-bat. That’s what makes this ad even more disappointing. They placed it in, not a mothers-only magazine, but Parents magazine, where they had a chance to market to both moms and dads. Instead, they came up flat.

Ironically, Babybel’s website proclaims their cheese to be “the snack your whole family will love.” That seems difficult to believe, as they single-handedly made dads to be nonexistent when it comes to providing the after-school snack.

At the bottom of the ad, Babybel’s message ends with “Let’s be friends.”

That’s a tough request for dads to consider. They weren’t even asked in the first place.

If you abuse your power, do you have too much?

Who most influences your behavior and opinions?

Your parents? Your siblings? Your pastor?

Wrong on all three counts. And wrong on anything else you might think is the answer.

It’s the news media. The media has a power so strong they travel on the same plane as the President. It shapes much of public perception, and with smart phones, blogs and social media, nearly anyone can become an instrument for and with the media. You might not agree, but Donald Sterling does. And so do plenty of others.

Any PR firm will tell you that when utilized correctly, the power of the media can be a most valuable ally. When handled carelessly, it can be dangerous and harmful to one’s image. But just because the new media is all-powerful, doesn’t mean it’s all-perfect.media

In its most basic form, the media’s job is to report the news. However, more and more we witness the media injecting opinions into print stories, offering comments after reading the TV news script, and personal view sound bites that act as fillers in-between radio commercials. The Internet is responsible for much of this, where there is no time or page limit, allowing anyone to ramble on with whatever they want for as long as they want. There used to be separate news columns and opinion columns, but now you can hardly tell which is which.

The lines have been blurred. The gray area is grayer. The muck is muckier.

And now, what once was a factual reporting of events, has become a writing free-for-all where reporters can say and do whatever they want in the name of journalistic sovereignty.

This article, in yesterday’s USA Today, was tarnished early on through the irresponsible use of “Mr. Mom” in the first paragraph. What’s more, the story could have been accompanied by a photo of a dad caring for children, or working in the home. Instead, the newspaper chose to use a photo of Michael Keaton from the film “Mr. Mom,” where he’s drying a child’s bottom on a public bathroom’s automatic hand dryer.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly find the image humorous. But it had little to do with the story, other than reinforce the unfitting perception that dads are bumbling idiots when it comes to raising their children. (And the least USA Today could have done was get the year of the movie right – it was 1983, not 1883.)

All of this is unfortunate, because otherwise, the story was well done and interesting. Nevertheless, “Mr. Mom” is now three decades old, and the connotation falsely assumes that societal norms never change, leaving the reader lost at best, and offended at worst with this poor choice of association.

The news media wouldn’t be so powerful if we would only consume it, not overindulge on it.

Boycott this

The Olympics are supposed to be a sporting competition of the greatest athletes in the world.

So why, then, is NBC using the opening of its telecast each evening to remind us of human rights issues that have nothing to do with sports? Why can’t they just cover, um, sports?

It’s about as unrelated as Proctor & Gamble creating the perception that moms are solely responsible for creating Olympic athletes.olympicrings

Once again, we here at dadmarketing believe that moms do indeed have a part in raising kids and encouraging them through the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. But what about dads?

P&G not only omits dads from the Olympic picture, but self proclaims themselves as the “Proud sponsor of Moms.”

In P&G’s world, dads flat-out don’t exist.

Don’t believe me?

Take a look at what a P&G VP said to USA Today: “Mom’s contributions to their kids’ lives are full of incredible sacrifices,” said Jodi Allen, Procter & Gamble vice president of North American marketing and brand operations. “We’re so moved by these moms and the way they help their children overcome obstacles to achieve their dreams. As athletes are named to Team USA, we celebrate the person that helped get each athlete there and who picked them up each time they fell — mom!”

Why can’t dads get equal love from P&G? What if dads orchestrated a boycott of their products? There’s a real boycott I’d love to see.