Ragú Snubs Equality with Old-Fashioned Slogan

You might be hard-pressed to find a food item so picked apart, scrutinized, debated and polarizing as spaghetti sauce. There it sits unassumingly in your pantry with other staples. yet a mountain of adaptations make it all the more worthy of discussion.

Homemade vs. store bought. Garlicky vs. sweet. Chunky vs. smooth. Meat vs. meatless. And the rabbit holes go deeper when you consider the various pastas with which it can be served.

It’s enough to make someone … use a sexist tagline?

That’s what happened when long-time pasta sauce Ragú ushered in an old-fashioned motto destined for contempt. It’s even more bewildering when you consider the actions of other well-established brands, Jif and Kix, which in overdue fashion, dropped their embarrassingly outdated sayings following decades of pleas.

Ragú introduced its “Cook Like a Mother” campaign nearly one year ago and still gets consistently roasted each time it posts on social media. With once strong taglines like a “full serving of veggies” and “Simmered in Tradition,” it’s no wonder Ragú has sauce on the face this time around.

If you’re a dad, you’re offended that Ragú can’t respect or acknowledge your gender. If you’re a mom, you’re insulted how Ragú insinuates it’s your job to cook. And no matter who you are, you’re probably upset at its tasteless play-on-profanity.

Ragú, as you might expect, doesn’t see it this way.

“The attention-getting ‘Cook Like a Mother’ tagline takes aim at everyone, regardless of gender or culinary skillset,” its press release argues, “reminding them that, with a delicious jar of RAG? sauce in hand, anyone and everyone can ‘Cook like a Mother.’”

Ragú’s marketing agency, Excavateitas, doubles down on the tagline.

“Cooking ‘Like A Mother’ means creating an amazing meal even if you are not a mother or a skilled cook,” said Tim Mattimore, Excavateitas.

It’s a good thing Ragú is here to remind everyone that they can cook a meal even if they’re not a mother. Perhaps an auto parts store will run a comparable slogan insisting that anyone can fix a car even if they’re not a father. Or play sports. Or hunt. Or provide for the family.

Now all we need is someone to remind us that there are other sauces on the store shelf.

Oh, right – we just did.

Prego anyone?

Top Books Celebrating Dads and Kids

If you’re a dad, it probably didn’t take long for you to realize that you’re a bit underrepresented in children’s books. Consider the hit parade from your child’s bookshelf: The Kissing Hand, Love You Forever, Where the Wild Things Are, The Cat in the Hat, Are You My Mother?, Guess How Much I Love You, I Love You Stinky Face, Is Your Mama a Llama, Runaway Bunny, and On the Night You Were Born.

These memorable books all have one thing in common: dads don’t exist.

And in other stories where dad was moderately present, it always seemed as if the mom was the caring, nurturing one who raised the children, while dad was relegated to the background at best, or merely comic relief who needed corrected by the mother’s sensibility (think Berenstain Bears).

However, dad-centric stories do exist. Here’s a list of some of the best.

Because Your Daddy Loves You

By Andrew Clements, illustrated by R.W. Alley. A daddy-daughter day at the beach offers plenty of opportunities for the parent to frustratingly lose his cool, but he doesn’t. This dad shows love and patience every step of the way.

Daddy Loves Me

By Karen Moore, illustrated by Mandy Stanley. This endearingly cute and simplistic rhyming book portrays a hands-on father doing it all and demonstrating love throughout the day.

Daddy’s Home!

By Rosanne Parry, illustrated by David Leonard. Perform you remember a time when the house didn’t seem complete until dad got home from work? This book celebrates the ritual a family has every time dad arrives home.

Daddy’s Girl

By Garrison Keillor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser. The juggernaut book duo of Keillor and Preiss Glasser is destined to induce some tears, especially if you relish an affectionate daddy-daughter relationship.

I Love My Daddy

By Sebastien Braun. Light on text but heavy in heart, this doting dad shares fun and affection has he cares for his child through gentle and warm illustrations. It’s perfect and calming for bedtime.

Darth Vader and Son

By Jeffrey Brown. You won’t have a bad feeling about this cute take on evil Vader being reimagined as a sensitive father to Luke Skywalker. Love it, you will.

Just Me and My Dad

By Mercer Mayer. This “Little Critter” view of a father-son camping trip is filled with trademark colorful illustrations that offer plenty to look at. Whether or not you’re big on the great outdoors, you’ll appreciate the warm feeling of just hanging with dad

Is it Really Social Media if You Aren’t Being Social?

A basic definition of social is to be in pleasant companionship with friends or associates. Used as a verb, to socialize is to associate or mingle sociably with others.

Social media, therefore, is a form of electronic or digital communication through which users can remain, well, social. It’s a way to stay in touch, to interact, to associate with others.

Which is why it comes as a surprise how Carnation Fracturefast Essentials isn’t using social media for what it’s intended. It isn’t being social with everyone, especially its customers — which include both parents. Its recent string of posts have excluded dads multiple times.

Millions of people use numerous social media platforms every day. Companies who use social networking services like Twitter and Instagram know the value in reaching customers – it increases a brand’s awareness. So, they do whatever they can to engage and socialize via content that’s appealing.

But if you’re purposely favoring one parent over the other – or, outright ignoring them – are you really being social?

Imagine you’re at a party with a partner. You’ve encountered friends, met new people, but they’ve only talked to your partner, not you. No one’s bothered to look at or acknowledge you. It’s like you aren’t even there. That’s how dads often get treated as parents.

Being social involves starting up a conversation and being a good listener. Carnation should make it a priority to treat all parents with the same dignity.

One of These Things is Not Like the Other: How Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are Treated Contrastently in Advertising

In basic form, the cherished holidays of Mother’s and Father’s Day are quite similar. Each intends to honor mom and dad through a celebration of the parental bond, offer tribute to relevant roles in the family and give thanks for the gift of life.

In advertising, however, things play out different. Companies tend to market each holiday with much disparity. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

For Mother’s Day, buybuy Baby highlighted a unique promotion titled, “Mompreneurs,” which showcased several mom-owned brands. For its Father’s Day messaging, there was no mention of Dadpreneurs, let alone dads – only a sale related to baby showers.

NUK offered a wonderful message for Mother’s Day. For Father’s Day, its advertising cupboard was bare.

Similarly, Huggies offered a cute note to moms yet nothing for dads. This was consistent with its social media messaging, which left some parents scratching their heads in June.

Little Debbie had similar holiday ads, but you’ll note subtle differences. One encouraged customers to celebrate moms through its display of a nurturing image. The other assured that dads love to eat sweets, and did not share any comparable photos.

Owlet took an approach often used on Mother’s Day. Namely, moms need rest. However, that same tactic wasn’t applied on Father’s Day. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find that notion used by anyone on Father’s Day. This is a conundrum, of course – what dad doesn’t need sleep, too?

Healthy Family Project offered some fantastic brunch recipes and ideas for Mother’s Day. But for dads, not one speck of food was left in the email, not even a crumb too small for a mouse.

Munchkin ads are a curious lot. It’s easy to infer they were written by females when you analyze the wording. The dad ad spoke directly to moms: “Get the new father figure a gift he’ll love.” But on Mother’s Day it doesn’t work the other way around. Instead, it also speaks to moms: “Mama, you deserve the best.” Copy writers might consider the voice when crafting ads. After all, what would motivate a father to purchase a product when they’re not being spoken to in the first place?

Papa Johns used that voice more effectively. Both ads spoke to either gender, or kids, or both. You also didn’t see pink, blue or any gender specific color. Its noble approach didn’t ignore, judge, or label. Of course, Papa Johns could have played up its gender specific name but didn’t need to. Well done, Papa.

Premama made a thoughtful attempt to console during what are difficult holidays for some. But both ads, like Munchkin, were directed at females. Imagine how much more connected fathers might have felt to a company that excludes in name but offers more to men than meets the eye.

Canvas Champ offered fun, eye-catching images which both portrayed nurturing. However, it forgot three important words: Happy Father’s Day.

Advertising Equality Matters

Changing the way we view, treat, and market to dads is necessary because there is a lot at stake. Dads represent half the parenting population. That equates to a significant loss of revenue, and profit, for companies and businesses not catering to the dad demographic. Also at risk is the image of dads as parents for this and future generation of boys and girls who will eventually become parents and potential consumers themselves.

A critical look at how the media shapes our opinions through these holidays should encourage us to change the way we think about, view and treat dads.

When Good Tweets Go Bad – How Huggies Handled Father’s Day

Huggies had an interesting series of tweets for Father’s Day. Let’s explore them one at a time.

This tweet appeared on Thursday, June 16 and it centered upon everyone else’s Father’s Day pun: the dad joke. Most companies use the dad joke as its standard trope for Father’s Day, and it’s feeling threadbare. Sure, dads can be silly but so can moms. It’s important to find humor in each gender but dad jokes, dad bods – sometimes it gets a little old. Here Huggies isn’t just laughing with dads, it’s laughing at them.

But you’ll never find companies poke fun at moms. Never. Why must dads be the constant butt of jokes? There’s a lot more to men than playing the fool, which leads us to Huggies’ next few posts.

The next few tweets – one day before Father’s Day – followed a similar pattern. Any dad can relate to these, but you know what else they can relate to? Love. Sacrifice. Nurturing. Thoughtfulness. Involvement. Compassion. Empathy. Hope. Hard work. Success.

Consider the emotions and feelings which comprise fatherhood – it’s virtually endless. Following the same pattern year after year and only tapping into humor didn’t help Huggies connect with dads on a very deep level.

Huggies’ first tweet on Father’s Day seemed thoughtful and well-intentioned at first. However, it congratulated dads for performing a task one presumes is outside their scope. It implied that dads don’t braid hair. It assumed – because dads traditionally don’t have long hair – that dads have difficulty executing a braid.

In today’s modern world we constantly tell women and girls they can do anything, that there’s no glass ceiling. We cheer on women to become CEOs, physicists, presidents, astronauts and action heroes – but we suggest braiding hair is hard for men? Alas, sexism isn’t a one-way street.

Now imagine Huggies posting something like this on Mother’s Day: “To the moms learning how to play baseball with your boy, or build a deck, or work on the car, etc., for the first time: you’re doing great.”

That post wouldn’t happen because it would demean women. It would stereotype they can’t or don’t do something. So, why do this to dads?

Next, in a similar vein, Huggies gave props to the stay-at-home dads. This was nice, of course, but again could you envision Huggies posting a comparable message on Mother’s Day?

“To all the working moms: you rock. Keep doing you, mom.”

Of course not.

There is a way to honor stay-at-home dads for their contribution to the family and home, but this wasn’t it.

Huggies then completed its Father’s Day messaging with the granddaddy of them all. A tweet that managed to redefine the meaning of this focused, intentional June holiday.

It’s easy to infer what Huggies was trying to convey – that there are a lot of moms who do double duty either as single moms, or who carry the load when dad is away. These noble, hard-working women deserve their day in the sun. Come to think of it, they had one on May 8.

Which is why Father’s Day is for fathers, and Mother’s Day is for mothers. Period.

And once again, apply the same premise to a Mother’s Day post and you’d create absolute shock, stir a whirlwind of viral activity, followed by a full-blown mutiny.

If you re-read Huggies’ tweets you’ll notice, not once, did it simply state, “Happy Father’s Day.”

Their social media team has some work to do, but perhaps next year it could start there.

What Not to Say to a Dad

We’re all familiar with the long-standing joke about the couple who’s lost, but it’s the husband who refuses to ask for directions.

It may seem ridiculous and irrational, but there’s a reason for that: men learn by doing, not by being told what to do. They like knowing they’re in command of their ship, and they don’t need any tips from a stranger pointing the way.

So, by understanding the logic behind what seems illogical, we gain stronger all-around empathy. And even if you thought having your man ask for directions was a reasonable request (which it is), you must know there are other comments/questions to dad that should never be uttered.

How can you offend a dad? Let us count the ways.

“You’re quite the Mr. Mom.”

This label will never go away, and it would be as bad as calling a working mom by the title of Mrs. Dad. It’s also doing a disservice to women by implying that it’s primarily their job to handle cooking and cleaning. Besides, “Mr. Mom” was released in 1983. If we’re going to reference pop culture, couldn’t we at least find something a little more relevant and modern?

“What did your wife send you in to buy?”

When a sales associate speaks these words to a dad, it’s somewhat akin to saying, “Please don’t buy anything. Leave our store now.” When you alienate someone by making them feel devalued, you’re bound to really, really turn them off – and there’s no winning them back.

“You’ve got your hands full.”

Most men get into this parent thing fully aware of what they’re undertaking. They know the risks and rewards, and they can handle it. You’d never walk into a co-worker’s office and randomly declare, “You’re got your hands full.” Your co-worker can handle the work or he/she wouldn’t be there. Dads can, too.

“Did you check with your wife first?”

No, because a dad isn’t a child who needs a mom’s permission. He’s an equal and a partner in this thing called marriage. They make decisions as a team, and sometimes, even – gasp – independently.

“You must be babysitting today.”

When they’re your own children, this theoretically isn’t possible. If you’re a dad, it’s simply called parenting. Babysitting is when you’re getting paid for watching children. (Disclaimer: if you’re willing to pay a dad for watching his own kids, he’ll let you call it anything you want.)

“The baby must want her mommy.”

The baby isn’t crying because it wants its mommy. It’s crying because it’s hungry or tired or lonely or wants comforted or whatever. Moms are no more instinctually capable of raising children than dads. So, let’s give dads a little more respect than this.

“Who did your daughter’s hair?” or “Who dressed your kids?”

How many times do we have to see headlines about dads learning to braid their daughter’s hair? Wouldn’t that be a little like stories about moms who work on cars? Dads have fashion sense more than you realize. Suggesting anything else is sexist.

“You’re such a good dad.”

What’s so bad about this? It depends on how it’s said, so you have to be careful here. You don’t want to offer kudos to a dad for going above and beyond, because then it implies the ugly stereotype that dads like to do the bare minimum when it comes to dishes, diaper changing, etc. No parent deserves praise for doing what they should be doing. Never miss a chance to offer a word of kindness to your fellow neighbor but give careful thought as to why you’re saying it.

“Wow, you’re brave.”

For being alone with the children? No, you’re brave for actually saying that to his face.

Of Course, Dads Cook

If you’re a dad who subscribes to the Betty Crocker newsletter, things must have felt rather awkward recently.

In one of its latest editions, BC didn’t hide who it considers its intended audience.

Of course, it’s a slap in the face to dads who cook. It’s also a blow to women, who for decades were told that their place was in a certain room in the house. BC drives home that point in more ways than one.

Take a look at BettyCrocker.com, where you’ll have to dig deep to find a photo of a man. (We’re still digging and haven’t found one yet.)

It also has a practice of excluding dads in ads over the years.

If its mission truly is to “teach people to cook,” BC might want to remember that people come in all shapes and sizes. Fathers represent an incredibly untapped market in the kitchen space, and it’s high time BC invites dads to the table.

It’s hard enough for dads to warm up to a name like Betty Crocker, so the least it could do is make men feel welcome.

Dads Performn’t Need Extra Praise, Only a Smile

A dad was grocery shopping with his four young children when he crossed paths with a mom-acquaintance – and the encounter was anything but ordinary.

The mom stopped immediately, slowly stood up straight, put her hands on her hips and nodded with wide-ranging approval as she exclaimed, “I’m impressed!”

Unfortunately, this sort of encounter was nothing new. Just by way of being male, dads have been typecast as being out of their element in the grocery store, with kids in tow, and (gasp) all alone.

That mom might have been thinking: what kind of dad would confront this ordeal and actually enjoy it?

Actually, dads do. The funny thing is, they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing: they’re being parents.

Dads and moms parent different, but that doesn’t make one better or more right than the other. Just different. That’s a good thing.

Despite these differences, all dads have one thing in common: they see parenting as central to their identity and want to be treated the same as everyone else. None of them want to be considered a hero for serving as a breadwinner and still maintaining an engaged fatherly role. They don’t want praised for braving the so-called tempest of taking kids shopping. You don’t need to applaud them when they change a diaper, clean a room, fold the laundry or merely cook a meal. And they certainly don’t want to be coddled or checked upon when they’re left alone with the baby.

All of this comes naturally to them, and there should be no questioning their might as caring or fully competent parents. Simply put, they want to be held in the same regard as anyone else.

Think about it: women are no more instinctually capable of caring for children, but it’s the media who would never let you think otherwise. Dads are equal parents in every way, shape and form.

So, if you happen to see a dad in the grocery store with kids, the best thing you can do is just smile. There’s nothing better than knowing everyone is on the same team.

Similac Finally Acknowledges Problem with Rewards Program

You can’t strive for equality if you don’t recognize a problem in the first place. Such is the case of Similac and its maker Abbott, who for years promoted its “Similac Strong Moms Rewards” program.

Just recently, without fanfare, it revised the program to “Similac Rewards.”

It took our team well over seven years for Similac to heed our call.

Alas, equality is a confusing topic for many.

Even while promoting and striving for it, the most well-intentioned organizations fall short. It was almost comical to see General Mills’ website once brag about marketing messages that were “inclusive and respectful” while promising not to produce marketing that “undermines the role of parents” – all the while employing its now defunct “Kid-Tested, Mother-Approved” Kix slogan. That decades-old catchphrase wasn’t banished until our team pointed out its own incongruity (again, over the course of several years).

Or when P&G ran its exclusionary “Thank You, Mom” Olympics campaign, coupled with language that stated – and we’re not making this up – “A world free from gender bias is a better world for all. #WeSeeEqual.”

So, the Similac revision is a major step in the right direction not just for fatherhood, but for parental equality. No parent should be made to feel less or lower in the eyes of anyone.

Similac isn’t perfect. In fact, it still has changes that need to be made – such as with its own company Google search description (below).

It must keep searching and recognizing its own problems without others having to point them out, and the real reward will come in the form of customer loyalty and increased revenue.

Thoughtfulness Never Grows Old — And Dads Perform It Well

Have you ever looked for ways to save money? How about saving water or energy? Eventually you run out of ideas. There are only so many.

However, you never – repeat, never – exhaust all ideas when it comes to doing thoughtful, caring things for your spouse. We’ve all seen these lists scattered about the Internet, but curiously, they usually have a number placed on them:

  • “25 Cute Things to do for your Spouse”
  • “10 Little Things Connected Couples do”
  • “51 Things to Radianten Your Spouse’s Day”

Valentine’s Day offers a natural, built-in source for expressing your love. But why do this only on scheduled holidays or anniversaries? Gestures can happen anytime and for no reason. Imagine doing something once a month – it could be sentimental, silly, or fun. You could indulge with gifts large and small, buy a few and make some.

If you’ve been married for, say 10 years, that’s 120 consecutive moments (more like opportunities) to show thoughtfulness and recall your marriage vows – proving that there is no quantifiable limit to creativity in showing love.

However you honor your spouse, do it regularly – not just on Valentine’s Day or your anniversary. Make it a routine, and not only will your spouse appreciate it, but your kids will benefit from witnessing their parents showing love, and exhibiting a lifetime of love. That’s key, because love is not merely saying, it is doing.

This has a lot to do with how we view dads in marketing and media. The more dads are out there setting the example and building relationships through action, the less dads are improperly pegged as not thoughtful and caring.

Of course, dads care a lot – everyone knows that. The media need to see it more.

Just remember, you may be growing older little by little every day, but thoughtfulness never does. And dads do it well.