How the Grinch Ignored Dads

Every family on Earth liked dads a lot…
But marketing and media, who lived on Earth too, did NOT!

They both ignored dads, even in June.
Now, please don’t ask why. No one can answer that soon.
It could be they were stuck in the Fifties.
It could be, perhaps, that the VPs were iffy.
But I think that the most likely reason to say,
May have been that they don’t know dads of today.

But, whatever the reason, being old-fashioned or mulish,
They stood there, looking at dads, acting so foolish.
Staring down from their boardrooms with a sour, grumbly frown,
At the warm lighted homes below in their town.
For they knew every dad down on Earth beneath,
Was busy now, shopping, cooking and feeding.

grinch-1939350_1920.jpg

“And they’re helping with kids” (which to us seemed apparent).
“Tomorrow on Christmas, they’ll act like they’re parents.”
Then they growled, with their fingers nervously a-patter.
“I must find some way to stop dads from being treated like they matter.”

For tomorrow, they knew, that dads of all kinds
Would wake bright and early, making Christmas day shine.
For the dads with their families, would sit down to a feast.
They helped cook and serve it, and shopped too, at least.
Which was something their marketing data hadn’t released.

And THEN dads would do something they liked least of all.
Every dad to be found, the tall and the small,
Would stand in the living room, so very involved.
They’d be with their kids, they had lots of fun.
CEOs don’t want to admit, but that’s how it’s always been done.

And the more marketing and media thought of those dads,
The more they thought, “We must create some new ads!”
“Why, for several years we’ve put up with it now!”
“We MUST stop dads from looking like they’re equally, competent parents! But HOW?”

Then they got an idea! An awful idea!
THE MARKETING AND MEDIA GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!

“We know just what to do!” they laughed, oh so brash.
So they made reboot of Mr. Mom in a flash.
And they chuckled, and clucked, “What a great marketing trick!
With these shows and new ads, fathers won’t look so slick.”

Then they ran some campaigns that ignored dear, old dad.
They discounted his moves, and made him look bad.
They excluded with clubs and groups so complete.
Disney Moms, Chick-fil-A Moms, Walmart Moms all did meet.

But they didn’t stop there, media insisted with glee.
The headlines ridiculed dad hastily.
Moms do the laundry. Moms pack the lunches.
Moms handle checkups. They do it in bunches.”

Kellogg’s, Gerber, Pampers and Jif.
They’ve all ignored dad – it caused quite a riff.
And just when you thought they were all out of feats,
“And NOW!” grinned marketing and media, “I will exclude more with some tweets!”

Then they opened their browser, and started to click,
When they noticed some dads who were commenting quick.
Dads stared at those ads and said, “Marketing and media, why…
Why are you ignoring dads? WHY?”

But, you know, those corporate heads were so smart and so slick,
They thought up a lie, and they thought it up quick!
“Why, my dear old dads,” marketing and media lied,
“Moms want to cook and clean, and do the work inside.
The kitchen, the laundry, the chores – it’s all theirs.
They want the control, they don’t want to share.”

And their fibs fooled consumers, but something didn’t seem right.
In today’s modern world, dad’s involved day and night.

It was quarter past dawn, all the dads, still-a-bed,
plus the moms and the kids, still a-snooze and misled.

“Pooh-Pooh to the dads,” marketing and media did chatter.
“They’re finding out now, that to families, they don’t matter.
They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!
Their mouths will hang open, but if you want proof,
The dads in their homes will remain so aloof.”

“That’s a sight,” grinned marketing and media, “That I simply MUST see!”
So they paused and figured everyone would agree.
And they did see a sight in homes across Earth.
It started upon birth, and as kids grew in worth.

But the sight wasn’t sad. Why this sight looked so fun!
It couldn’t be so! But it WAS fun – not even outdone!
Marketing and media stared down at homes!
They popped their eyes!
Then they shook and saw a shocking surprise!

Every dad down on Earth, the righteous and errant,
Surprise, surprise – knew just how to parent!
They DIDN’T have to be taught, told, or trained,
Instinctually they managed, their minds were ingrained.

Marketing and media hadn’t stopped dads from being parents. They already were!
Somehow or other, they were equally sure.

And the marketing and media, with their old-fashioned way,
Stood puzzling and puzzling, “How’d they manage today?
They cooked, cleaned and helped.
They handled it steady. They equally tended to children already.”
And they puzzled three hours, till their puzzlers were sore.
Then marketing and media thought of something they hadn’t before!
“Maybe dads,” they thought, “aren’t parents to ignore.
Maybe dads…perhaps…mean a little bit more!”

And what happened then…? Well, on the Internet they say,
That the marketing and media’s hearts grew three sizes that day!

And the minute their hearts didn’t quite feel so tight,
They brainstormed ideas to put dads in new light,
And they stopped the negative shows, programs and ads!

And they…the marketing and media themselves…took some time to know dads!

Hey Vudu, just cancel the sexist reboot no one asked for

There’s been a lot of talk about the “Mr. Mom” reboot on Walmart-owned streaming service Vudu.

Most of it has been centered upon this being Vudu’s first original series.

There’s also a bit of buzz about its need – as in, no one really asked for it.

Julian Franco, Vudu senior director, insists the remake centers upon nostalgia.

“As parents, we want to share with kids the TV shows and movies that we grew up with,” he said to Variety.

mrmom4

There’s just a few problems with that kind of nostalgia. Namely, it’s sexist – pure and simple.

Look back at the 1983 version and you’ll find a rather simple, primary plot: the dad was a stay-at-home parent. That was it.

It offered laughs for a generation of parents who cheered at the ultimate family role reversal. Switching mom’s and dad’s jobs made for instant comic fodder, especially after decades of expected social norms.

But even by 1983 standards, those roles had already been transforming for years. It’s not like mom wasn’t already working outside the home. She was, and stay-at-home dads were already a thing, though admittedly less common.

And yet as successful as “Mr. Mom” was for its time, it bears mentioning that there was never a sequel, the go-to bread-and-butter for any Hollywood studio executive.

Fast forward 36 years later and you find a world where parenting roles are blurred, and a marketing/media industry that clearly hasn’t caught up with the times.

Then there’s that title.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a term more offensive to dads. After all, they’re not moms – they’re dads – and there’s nothing emasculating about working inside the home and taking care of children.

It’s called parenting.

For years, dads have been unfairly mislabeled Mr. Mom – a name that’s not only insulting, but erroneous. Would anyone dare call a working mother, Mrs. Dad? Moms don’t exactly find that term endearing, either; it’s not their job to cook, clean and tend to the kids.

And yet studio executives pass off this as nostalgia, or comedy – or whatever.

It’s no joke watching a dad care for his children. Imagine a show that laughs at moms trying to make it in the corporate world. Or work on cars. Or play sports.

It wouldn’t happen because they can do those things. The parenting community has matured and evolved. Hollywood, to a certain extent, has too.

Damsel-in-distress movies have gone by the wayside because they’re old-fashioned and passé. Today’s audiences want to see “Wonder Woman,” “Captain Marvel,” or Rey take down the First Order in “Star Wars.”

Its films like these – with plenty more on the way – which shape public perception of females. Here we begin to see assertive, independent, active leaders. Those successful female characters don’t politicize, sexualize or diminish their gender, they just lead. We begin to accept this new fantasy as reality, and of course, we have to learn how to deal with reality.

No male should have to show his feminine side. He doesn’t have one – he’s a man. And it’s no fun being ridiculed as a parent, which is completely different from encountering laughing matters while parenting. That happens to everyone.

There is, however, a completely masculine way to parent whether you’re cleaning the home or working outside it.

If you’re a dad in today’s world, sometimes you have to do both.

Someone ought to let Vudu know that.

Sexism has no place anywhere, especially in the grocery

See this seemingly innocuous graphic used by Walmart in a recent email promotion?  It’s purporting a gender bias that mom is the lead parent, and essentially, runs the proverbial show.walmart6

It’s terribly offensive to dads who spend equal, more, or all of their time running the show.  In today’s modern world, parenting is one of those equally shared duties, and suggesting anything otherwise is wrong.

Period.

Amazon wisely caught its error when it quietly renamed the awkward Amazon Mom as the more inclusive Amazon Parent.  Yes, families involve both mom and dad — as does shopping and cooking — and you’d never catch an auto parts store or sports league saying that those stereotypical male realms are “dad’s domain.”

So why does Walmart continue with this practice when it should know better?  Why did Walmart actively promote a Walmart Moms program with no dads’ counterpart?  Why does Walmart ignore our staff when we try to communicate with them about these topics?

We expect a little more from the nation’s largest retailer, and it should certainly notice a sexist promotion when it sees one, because a mother’s place is not in the kitchen, and dads can indeed cook.  Truly, with this kind of message, no one looked good — not moms, not dads and certainly not Walmart.

Walmart has since dropped the use of this graphic, but it’s never too late to let Walmart know how it can treat dads in the future as equal, competent parents.

All of which might make dads more interested in shopping there.

Now that’s some serious food for thought.

A fine ad, but what’s with Walmart Moms?

mixedsignalsIf you’ve been following this website since the beginning, you know we’ve focused on a variety of ways in which dads are portrayed in marketing, advertising and media.

We’ve featured companies, media channels, sports, entertainment avenues, service organizations, as well as some general ideas of our own.

When it comes to the products we buy and consume every day, it is the retailers who exert immense power. Their prices affect our overall budget. They decide what’s on sale. They decide where it’s placed in the store. They shape our buying habits, and often turn items that “I want” into “I need.”

The retailer at the top of the list, of course, is none other than Walmart. With 4,779 stores nationwide, it’s responsible for $482 billion in annual sales, and no other store comes even close.

When we wrote about Walmart on January 7, we were disappointed by an ad featured in the October 2014 American Baby magazine.

walmart2But now, almost one full year after that magazine ad we discover a change in Walmart’s ways with an advertisement so impressive (featured left), it will no doubt get everyone’s attention in the retailing world. Hopefully it will turn heads and change the way others operate and market their products and services.

Check out this list of the top retailers from last year.  If you’re reading this Kroger, Costco, Target, Home Depot, et al, your friends at Walmart have officially raised the bar.

That doesn’t mean, however, that Walmart is officially the leader in dad-friendly marketing. This ad was a hit, but another part of its portfolio is a clear miss.

That’s because it still insists on offering “Walmart Moms,” a practice that wouldn’t seem so sexist if it offered a dadly counterpart. The old fashioned use of this biased name fosters the misbelief that mom is the lead parent, and dad is merely an assistant.

We call for an end to this chauvinist exercise by renaming the program “Walmart Parents.”

What do you say Walmart?

walmart5Walmart’s approach shows that it’s at odds with its own self. By offering a fantastic ad showing dad in a positive light as an involved parent, and then disregarding dad’s parental abilities through the exclusionary Walmart Mom program, it’s sending mixed signals to dads everywhere.

We’ve debunked the moms are the lead shoppers fallacy so many times over it’s hardly worth doing again, so we’ll let another group do it.

Again, Walmart here offers one quality ad and a fantastic step in the right direction. But as for Walmart Mom, it reminds us of another dad exclusionary marketing campaign that’s taken a beating this year.

Perhaps it’s time for Walmart to be proactive (like the Today Show), rather than reactive, and let dads know that they matter as consumers.

Do dads want the best?

When Pizza Hut makes a significant menu change, the national media covers it. When the pizzeria in your hometown does something similar, the local paper doesn’t even notice.walmart

If a New York City radio DJ says something shocking, it makes headlines. Someone could say the same at a tiny Midwestern radio station and it won’t be noted as much.

The Washington Redskins have their whole name controversy, but high schools with identical nicknames fly under the radar.

Bigger certainly isn’t always better, but it is unquestionably more noticeable. It’s also open to more scrutiny, because we expect a little more.

And so it goes with Walmart.

The nation’s largest retailer had a two-page spread in the October 2014 American Baby magazine and proclaims, “Parenthood is full of firsts.” But on the very next page, the ad says this: “When it comes to caring for their baby, moms want only the best.”

Can’t dads care for babies? Don’t dads also want only the best?

Walmart’s website (featured) mimics the same attitude as the magazine ad, which isn’t really a surprise.

Walmart takes a lot of flak for its policies and business practices, treatment of suppliers, employee compensation and working conditions. We’re not ones to comment on those matters – maybe they’re true, maybe they’re not.

However, there’s no mistaking to whom Walmart is speaking in its latest ad. It’s a shame that Walmart doesn’t find enough value in dad as a potential customer, or even as a nurturing parent.

Had the local, independent drug store done this, I wouldn’t even have spotted it. But at Walmart, I expect more.

Hey, isn’t that the slogan of another retailer where dads could take their business?

Hmmm.