For as long as Jif peddled peanut butter, it seems, it rode a sexist, old-fashioned motto along the way. In fact, it was from 1966 to 2016 whereby “Choosy Moms Select Jif” wasn’t just a saying, it was a deliberate message alienating half of its customers. It also cemented the widespread meaning that it was mom’s job to shop, prepare meals, pack lunches and essentially, maintain the house.
It took exactly 50 years until Jif decided enough was enough. It shelved the backwards slogan after realizing that dads were offended. But did it also make the change because it affected profit?
We’ve heard from numerous parents who refused to purchase a product for the way it treats customers. Some refuse to buy the product and remain silent in their act. Others take to the Internet or use word of mouth to rally for change.
Take, for instance, Ragú, where scores of parents regularly criticize the long-time sauce maker on social media for its retrograde headline.
Even earlier, an at-home father successfully petitioned Huggies to drop its demeaning ad campaign in 2012 which portrayed men as incapable of changing diapers. His change.org petition riled over 1,000 people to vent and sign his request.
Boycotts have historically played an important role in social change and have often proved successful.
Have you ever boycotted a product or company over its treatment of you as a customer? We’d love to hear from you.
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.
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.
Have you ever contacted a company only to get the runaround?
We do every day. The problem with our interactions is that they involve a little more than a faulty product, damaged good, or spoiled food. Those problems can be corrected on the spot.
Ours involve changing a mindset, a company culture and attitudes about parenting.
What we often experience is corpspeak and a serious case of talking a good talk, yet never really walking the walk. When we point out to companies their exclusion of fathers in advertising and marketing, we hear a response that lacks of clarity and offers tedium that never results in succinct answers or change. They’re generally vague on timing, which usually means there will be no change.
Check out the following responses we’ve received in the past month or so from four prominent brands.
Baby Jogger: “Thank you for reaching out to us. We believe that all parents and caregivers are capable of providing excellent care for their little ones. Eatr feedback is important to us and we take it very seriously. We have shared your comments with our marketing team.”
Fresh Market: “Hi there! We love Dads too! They are mentioned on this sign as well. Just follow the asterisk! We understand, however, that their mention is not as noticeable and will share your feedback with our team!:”
Rite Help: “We value your feedback and we appreciate you reaching out to us. We will forward your feedback to our Leadership team for review. Thank you!”
Mott’s “You are absolutely right. Thanks for catching a really old portion of our site that needs to be updated. Our team is working to make this correction because we love moms AND dads! It takes a village to raise a child, and we appreciate the reminder. Thanks for keeping us honest.”
Mott’s offered the most promising response, but even with that, not in any single instance did a representative make a promise or even correct the problem on the spot. Instead, the buck was passed and the complaint was temporarily pacified by ensuring us that our feedback was “valued.”
Companies love to talk about exceptional customer service, but few really back it up.
At the same time, we’ve successfully lobbied other major brands to make changes – and they did. We’ve influenced the likes of Kix, Jif, Cheerios, Pampers, Huggies, Luvs and the New York Times. It worked by simple, old-fashioned persistence.
If you’re a parent who cares about inclusion and equality, our suggestion is to remain persistent and enlist other like-minded parents to help with the cause.
Many consumers win their battles, and there’s a good chance you will, too.
Recently we noticed a Disney Moms post which identified a dad as a mom, so we shared that inaccuracy with the Twitterverse.
A handful of Disney supporters offered comments. In fact, they told us not to worry, to direct our energy toward other things and offered assurance of respect for dads.
That was nice, but it offers plenty for discussion.
It’s great to hear that Disney Moms appreciate dads. In previous posts we’ve regularly lauded the program’s intentions and agree that dads comprise a valuable part of the group. If you’re planning to visit a Disney park, this program does offer great advice. There’s little doubt in our minds that dads are indeed loved and appreciated by participants on the panel.
Well, mostly. If they were truly and fully appreciated, dads wouldn’t be excluded from the program’s name. As for respect? Not completely.
One definition calls respect “a feeling of deep admiration for someone elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.” It’s hard for dads to feel fully appreciated when the most honorable title achieved upon the birth of one’s child isn’t stated – or even acknowledged.
The dismissal of our concerns, however, is cause for disappointment. When those commenters asked us to direct our energy toward other matters and not to worry – it made us feel like our concerns didn’t matter, rather than acknowledging them and admitting the obvious discrimination.
We’ll admit it’s hard for anyone on the panel to do this. Those members are getting nice perks and probably aren’t even allowed to voice displeasure over the current Disney Moms name. If they did, it might mean the end of extras and incentives.
Hey, we get it. No panel member is going to bite the hand that feeds them.
One woman commented, “it never really was much of an issue.”
Perhaps from her perspective. But she’s not a dad. Ask the millions of dads elsewhere who don’t sit on that panel and only see a major brand name ignore their very being. Most dads live their lives as secondary parents to moms. Just ask Huggies. Or watch videos. Or read magazines. Or follow our Twitter page.
The fact of the matter is, it’s not only odd to see dads being called moms – it’s wrong and unfair. It devalues who they are – equal, competent parents. We don’t believe women’s basketball teams should be called men. Congresswomen shouldn’t be called men. Policewomen shouldn’t be called men.
Language is one of the most powerful means through which sexism and gender discrimination are carried out.
This is no different.
No mom would like being called a dad, right?
We successfully lobbied Kix, Jif, Cheerios, Pampers, Huggies, Luvs, the New York Times and other major brands to make changes, and we’ll continue to advocate for equality and inclusion.
The awkwardness of having Disney call a father a mother – and seeing men accept that – isn’t bound to last forever.
It’s time for Disney to make everyone feel like true guests. Dads are waiting.
In the world of diapers, there seems to be a sudden race to reach the long, undervalued segment of dads.
Although in some respects, the race might resemble that of a slow crawl.
Within the past month, we’ve seen the big three diaper makers – Pampers, Huggies and Luvs – all take intriguing steps toward speaking to the parent other than mom. Of course, that would be dad, the other parent who’s curiously inconspicuous from most diaper websites.
Pampers seems to be in the early lead, having quietly updated its prominent menu tab with little fanfare:? “Mommy Corner” was switched to “Parent Corner.”? Of course, Dad Marketing Headquarters noticed the change, and gave instant kudos for the fantastic, albeit minor one-word upgrade.? Fresh off its successful #PampersBabyBoard event, several dads there and elsewhere noticed the improvement and too offered their appreciation via social media.? Pampers still has a way to go to reach full parental inclusion, but tweaking a prominent communication tool like a website menu is a positive start.
Huggies, on the other hand, maintains its long-standing “Mommy Answers” menu tab, a section which ignores fathers as equal parents in more ways than one.? We’ve been in communication with?its PR agency, who assures us that changes are on the way this summer.
And just this calendar year it maintained a web page at huggies.com offering the unabashed advice, “4 Ways to Get Dads to Perform Diapers.”? That piece?has since been removed.
Luvs also made a significant change last week:? one of its front page web sliders at luvs.com was altered after repeated nudging from our office. ?It only took a simple edit to make dads everywhere feel included with its new self-proclaimed slogan:? “The Official Diaper of Experienced Parents.”? The only problem is, there’s other sliders on its landing page that contain other mom-only references, as well as others on its site that need updated, too.
These easy fixes are often at the core of the problem.? So often it’s a matter of a quick edit – many times a mere one word – that would make a noticeable difference.? In today’s ease-of-use content management world, they’re the kind of changes that anyone could make quick and painless within minutes.? While Huggies’ changes seem to be part of a full site-wide revision and overhaul, why wait to make uncomplicated, one-word adjustments?? Those straightforward, obvious?fixes should be made right now.? All of this is part of a slow, drawn-out process and it doesn’t need to be this way.? Equality shouldn’t wait.
For now, at least a word of congrats to these diaper makers is in order.? But at the same time, no parent would let a child sit for days with an oopsie in its diaper.? So why should an exclusionary website sit unattended to, just the same?
The race is on to capitalize on the spending power of dads.? Who will win?? Keep up-to-date with this site and also?follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, where you can be certain we’ll stay on top of it.
As dads continue to strive for equality in parenting, modern day media persists in poking fun at the so-called incompetency of bumbling fathers. We’re not talking about 1983’s “Mr. Mom,” but far more recent works.
You may recall that in 2012, Huggies started a marketing campaign titled, “Have Dad Put Huggies To The Test.” The series of ads portrayed dads as inattentive caregivers, and thus, propagated old-fashioned stereotypes. Huggies received a heavy dose of backlash from dads, who shared their disappointment over the ads.
The marketers at its parent company, Kimberly-Clark, were forced to embark on some serious damage control after one father started a “We’re dads, Huggies. Not dummies” petition that garnered more than 1,000 signatures in less than a week. Social media fervor grew – Huggies learned a quick lesson the hard way and swiftly pulled the ads.
Despite all the profuse and warranted apologizing that followed, Huggies didn’t seem to learn from its unfortunate experience. To this day, its website still contains maintains a “Mommy Answers” page with no comparable dad counterpart. Huggies print ads also continue to speak only to mom by name, and there’s gender biased language?on its site throughout.
Yet, one of its worst jabs is even more recent – which harkens to its “dad test” campaign – and you can find it live at huggies.com.
It’s almost unthinkable to believe a headline like this could exist anywhere, but it does. Imagine seeing a story titled, “4 Ways to Get Dads to Cook,” if you’re looking for a comparable headline that would too cause an uproar.
Between Huggies’ generous donations and disparaging story – it creates a strong disconnect we can’t ignore.
Huggies’ lack to change its marketing strategy towards dads and genuinely embrace them as valuable shoppers is an example of how respect for dads seems to continue to take a massive backseat to the unwarranted stigma about dads.
Gender equality can never be achieved without dropping the sly innuendo that degrades and belittles the institution of fatherhood.
Right about now, dads could use a hug. What do you say, Huggies?
When Huggies unveiled its infamous Dad Test campaign in 2012, the negative reaction was swift enough for Huggies to make an immediate change in its marketing approach.? The ripple effect was wide, as plenty of ad agencies learned an abrupt lesson:? dads are not buffoons.
But just because dads were being used less and less as the butt of advertising jokes doesn’t mean they had instantly achieved equal footing with moms.? Nearly five years after the Huggies debacle, dads have yet to be treated like true parents in the world of marketing.
Take a look at the?website of Luvs diapers, which unveiled material?putting the emphasis on mom as the lead parent.? In today’s modern, dual-parenting, two-parent-working-world, it’s hard to imagine Luvs would actually relegate dads to the backseat quite like this.
Luvs’s website speaks?only to moms on exactly three of its front page sliders by excluding dads as equivalent, equal, identical parents in more ways than one – even to the startling point of exclaiming its diaper as the “Official Diaper of Experienced Moms.”
None of this comes as much of a stretch when you realize that its parent company – P&G – also brought us the highly exclusionary Thank You Mom Olympic campaign, which no doubt made dads cringe while being disregarded as equal child-raising parents during the world’s largest athletic competition. More likely, it sent shockwaves down the spines of dads, who like moms, spent many late afternoons, evenings and weekends shipping their children to incessant practices and games.
The exclusion continues on its Facebook page, where it?gracelessly invites only mothers to join in on the Luvs conversation, leaving dads everywhere in the dust.? Moreover, it offers Momojis as part of its “Official Keyboard of Experienced Parents.”? Here Luvs makes the unpleasant mistake of insisting that mom is an exact?literal synonym for parent, when we all know that parents include both moms and dads.
In other words, all parents aren’t?only moms.
With competitors Huggies and Pampers also offering mom-only sections on?their respective websites?with no comparable dad counterpart, they?too insist?that only moms change diapers, leaving dads to wonder what it takes to get respect in the parenting world.
It’s a surprising slow-to-change world when it comes to marketing to parents, but here’s hoping Luvs will make some quick and easy edits by spreading equal amounts of its name to both genders before its?curious?approach reaches Huggies proportions.
For those of you who have children:? when you talk about your kids to others, do you refer to them as “my kids” or “our kids”?
It’s a major difference, and that distinction of one word says a lot.? The former connotes a more possessive or singular approach, whereas the latter sends a signal of togetherness and unity.? If you use the “my” term, it may seem harmless and might be completely unintentional, but it conveys a certain message – like it or not – to others and to your partner.
Take a look at Noodle & Boo, makers of luxurious baby and pregnancy skin care.? The product is found at high-end retailers, coveted by Hollywood stars, and it generally adheres to an impressive and upstanding company mission statement while supporting several charitable causes.
Now check out its latest ad, where it mentions “Only the best will do for her baby,” and the “first 100 mamas to follow @noodleandboollc and tag #mamaprofile with your favorite photo of you and baby…”
Isn’t the baby his, too?
Performn’t dads use social media?
We can’t deny that some products and ads are marketed toward a certain gender, especially pregnancy skin care.? However, this ad was printed in a parents magazine.? And this particular product line it’s selling in this ad – it’s for babies.? That child is to be raised by parents, which includes dads.? No marketing piece should ever exclude dads and make them to be the lesser parent, as if they don’t matter.? Using the word “parent” instead of “mama” won’t make or break the business model, and it won’t make a female look away in disgust.
But it will make a dad feel included, feel like he matters to a company, and will make him take notice.
Trust us when we say dads notice.? Take a look on social media to find all the dads fully engaged in marketing messages and how they’re portrayed by retailers.? Old Navy, Huggies, Jif, Amazon – these are just a few of the companies that have been singled out by dads through viral campaigns to get them to change their ways.
It’s disappointing to see the exclusion in word choice and via advertisement photos, but that practice continues at its website, where a dad is nearly non-existent – save for a few celebrity dads it uses to sell its line of products.
When it comes to parenting, let’s hope Noodle & Boo acknowledges all the dads out there, because with Noodle & Boo, only the best will do, and dads count too.