Yogurt needs a marketing makeover

Yogurt is no more a feminine product than a bowl of oatmeal is masculine, but try telling that to your mouth – or your mind.

Product positioning has long labeled yogurt as diet food, which attracts a certain kind of customer. And that customer is typically female – one who tends to be concerned with how she looks to others.yoplait.png

Genderizing a product is really nothing new. The Marlboro Man sold cigarettes to men for decades. Hungry Man dinners and Chunky Soup appeal to men, as well. There are also plenty of other pointlessly gendered products that are sure to draw a chuckle.

Much of it is nonsense. Of course, there’s nothing feminine about milk, cream, fruit and sugar blended into one. Executives are merely trying to target their strongest demographic by positioning products around selling points that appeal to women.

So we know how they do it, and we know why they do it, but a larger question remains: why turn away revenue by ignoring those remaining customers?

The NFL remains one of the most successful American ventures around. It enjoys a varied mix of massive fan interest via huge TV ratings, millions of tickets sold, team apparel, fantasy leagues and its own TV network. The list could go on and on. Let’s also not forget that little game played at the end of the season which has become a cultural phenomenon like no other – the Super Bowl. This event has become far more than just a football game. Super Bowl commercials are a spectacle to behold, achieving status as the most valuable piece of TV marketing real estate in the world.

Yet despite the large focus on advertising, there’s no doubting that football is predominantly a man’s game. There has not been a single female player in the history of the NFL, and this male-dominated business appeals heavily to the masculine side of human nature.

But does that mean females can’t enjoy the game? Does that mean that women can’t be involved in the industry elsewhere? Does that mean women and football don’t belong together? Of course not.nfl2.png

Rather than focus 100 percent of its effort on targeting males even further, the NFL has invested millions in marketing campaigns aimed at women.

Female viewership of the NFL grew by 26 percent from 2009 to 2013, according to Athletic Business, which also said that 53 million women in the U.S. watched the 2015 Super Bowl, almost half the total audience of 114 million.

Couldn’t Yoplait do the same with men and dads in their world? Instead, it touts a #MomOn campaign that squarely ignores the contribution of fathers to raising and nurturing children.yoplait2.jpg

Today’s customers demand inclusion, equality and far less stereotyping. Dads are being left out in a really unfortunate way, and promotions like #MomOn aren’t doing anyone favors, because it also unnecessarily heaps all the responsibility on women.

It’s going to take a little more work than having Cam Newton serve as a spokesperson or slapping “Official Yogurt of the NFL” on cups. And we certainly don’t need more genderized gimmicks like Brogurt. Remember what happened to Lady Doritos?

Yogurt need to be reimagined, because today’s modern family has changed and parenting is shared.

The first yogurt who can figure this out stands to reap tremendously in a confused and oversaturated yogurt industry.

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Why yes, dads do lunch

Getting food companies – especially, lunch food makers – to accept the realities of today’s modern parenting world has been an uphill climb for our team.

In those companies’ worlds, only the mom shops, cooks and prepares lunches. The dad remains out of the picture, or at best, only a token visual.danimals

Danimals yogurt snacks is the latest brand to exclude fathers from its marketing content, as seen on its website, and regularly in social media.

This act is a risky proposition, to be sure. The first implication is that it makes mom’s place to be in the kitchen. The second is that it implies dads don’t prepare meals or raise children. Either way, both parents look bad because it places an unfair gender bias built on norms from yesteryear.danimals2.jpg

As mentioned, we continue to find this in the lunch world. At the start of last school year, Oscar Mayer introduced a video spot heralding mom for her work in readying kids for school. Babybel has been known to exclude fathers. Juice box makers regularly ignore dads as equal parents. And Jif has its infamous time-worn, out-of-date slogan.

We all know that dads pack lunches, and we’ve even seen those cute stories where dads share noontime love through their talents.danimals3.png

It’s particularly disappointing to see the exclusion perpetuated on the Danimals social media pages, where dads are forgotten on a regular basis.

If Danimals doesn’t want to be forgotten by dads, we’re open to talking sometime. Want to do lunch?

I don’t cheer for Cheerios

The phrase “to those whom much has been given, more is required,” is best known for its origin in the Bible.

I think it applies to cereal, too — specifically, Cheerios — and we’ll get to that connection in a minute.cheeriosfrown

But let’s think about Cheerios first.  It’s one of the strongest brands around.  Its no-nonsense black serif font on the plain yellow box is iconic.  The circular shape is basic, pure and often imitated.  Its ingredients include whole grain oats and just one gram of sugar.  Nearly every off- and store-brand has made a knock-off version and given it a similar name.  The taste is simple and unchanged virtually since the beginning, unless you count the explosion of its flavored offspring, such as Reduced-Fat-Yogurt-Berry-Blast-Cinnamon-Coated-Sprinkle Cheerios (seriously, do we need this much variety?).

I would argue that Cheerios has been in every American home at least one point in time since its inception, and I doubt many brand names can proclaim that.  We eat it.  We make snack mixes with it.  We feed it to babies.  We feed it to birds.  We make crafts with it.  We give it to kids in church to keep them quiet.  We string it on Christmas trees.  We love it.  We trust it.  Its wholesome.  It sticks on noses (try doing that with Kix).  It’s certified by the American Heart Association!  It’s genius!Image

It’s just plain…perfect!

Or is it?

Their marketing folks nearly had me at hello, but as I went further into their website, discovered that it’s Mom’s Choice.  And that’s when I started thinking about the phrase, “to those whom much has been given, more is required.”

You see, we’ve made Cheerios a part of our lives and trusted it for years, and I always thought it was a decently mutual relationship:  General Mills kept making it, we kept eating it and everyone was happy.  But then they started saying that it’s the cereal which mom’s choose, and dads instantly became alienated and left out.  More should be required of one of the top cereals around.  They’re supposed to be an example for everyone else.  Do you ever see the NFL say, “It’s the sports league more dads watch with their boys than any other”?

Cheerios, I thought you were better than this.  We’ve all given you so much, and more should be required.

I have the last box I’ll ever buy in my cupboard, and I’m not even going to eat it.

But the birds will.