Marketing to Moms Through Dads?

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Recently, I had the opportunity to attend and speak at the national marketing-to-moms conference. Sitting through presentations, workshops and general discussions with my marketing industry peers over meals and breaks during the two-day experience, I took mental note of a key theme permeating the conversation: Dads.

Do you notice your significant other being targeted by some of the same advertisers who typically target you? Does he notice?

A lot of the chatter about dads at this particular conference was that dads are more involved today than their fathers were. Yes, that’s true (well, for many of us and luckily I can count myself in that group). And that today’s Gen X and Gen Y dads are more present with their kids than their parents were, and are more likely to have some role in sharing household chores (yes and yes in my case, whew!). And thank goodness for that, too!

What bothered me wasn’t that people are interested in marketing to dads. Of course dads aren’t drones who take orders without input. In fact, research shows that while moms are responsible for approximately 85% of household purchase decisions, there are certain product categories for which moms seek input from dads, and sometimes even kids, and make the purchase based on consensus. (Though, mind you, moms still are ultimately in control of making those purchases, even if they get input and even if they have lots of hands on help from dads at home.)

No, what bothered me was that people claimed to be seeing a lot more marketing targeted to dads instead of moms. But in all of their examples, I realized this claim was based on a dangerous assumption. They were assuming that if an advertiser puts a dad in an ad, that ad must be targeted to dads – not moms. Huh? Have you ever seen this ad:

The whole story in it revolves around a dad. But do you think it’s intended to promote Google Chrome to dads? To moms? To both? Would you and your significant other have the same reaction to this spot?

I could think of several examples of TV spots featuring dads that resonated with me as a mom because the male actor mirrored my husband. Or the situation mirrored our lifestyle. Not necessarily because I saw a mom in the frame who reminded me of me (particularly if it’s a commercial wherein the actress looks to be enjoying herself while cleaning the house…)

My message is this: Marketers do too much assuming. Don’t assume that we moms are so literal. That we have to see a mom doing “mom things” to ‘get’ it… for the ad to break through to us, to resonate. If your ad mirrors our lifestyles, our beliefs, our perceptions of all the relationships and moments that make up motherhood, then we’re in your bullseye.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite TV ad of late? Do you think it was created specifically for moms?

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