Branding pioneers and the way to a dad’s heart (and wallet).

Much has been said recently about dads and there place in the hearts and minds of brands. There is plenty already out there to read on the subject (and very different opinions) so I am not going to rehash the debate, but I wanted to give you guys a peek into a relationship I have had with a brand that is very supportive of the idea that dads are half of the parenting equation. Those who have followed my posts will know that I have talked fondly about Bugaboo on several occasions. One of my very firsts posts in fact was about my beloved Cameleon (aka The Thing-a-ma-jigger) so it was easy for them to start a conversation with me knowing that I was already a fan. Setting aside the pros and cons of their products (I am sure we all have our preferences) I wanted to tell you about something that they shared with me that does not really fall into the product review basket for which they usually contact me. What they wanted to talk about was advertising. Their new campaign – the “all-in-one-and-only” – was about ready to roll out and they asked me what I thought. Now as you may know from my info or from having met me, I am a Brand Strategist by trade, so this kind of opinion is what I get paid to give each day. I was too tempted and intrigued, though, by the possibility of giving my input on a brand that I admire to say no to a simple barter deal. What really got my attention was that Bugaboo presented me with two campaigns and said they felt that one campaign would resonate with men and dads. The other they felt was too “emotional” and had a greater affinity to women. I looked at the two campaigns and shook my head. They didn’t get it.

I was surprised because they had done so well in reaching out to a small, but vocal and growing group of men who they felt could help get their message out there, but the campaign they felt would attract us most to me just fell flat on its face. It is by a famous photographer and it is aesthetically very pleasing, but it is art and a Bugaboo stroller is first and foremost about family life, kids, going places together and doing things together. It is also a well made, form and function piece of design. At least that is my take on the brand.

I then looked at the “emotional” campaign that they felt was more appropriate for women. The first photo was a family with the father holding the kid standing next to the stroller.

The second photo was a family, again with dad in the picture (albeit they look like they live in Park Slope, Brooklyn).

Not until the third image was there a “mommy only” scene. Why in the world would I not connect with seeing a dad included in a picture with the product? Isn’t that the whole point of getting me to want to buy the product? If all I see is an “artistic” portrayal of the product how does that get me to project myself into that scene and find any sort of emotional connection (and subsequent loyalty if the products also performs to expectation).

You are right. This post is not about my son or parenting. It is about marketing. About how we interact with brands (as a blogger and as consumers).

The fact is that Bugaboo shot a campaign that included “dad” in the pictures and if it is true that a picture is worth a thousand words it is true that Bugaboo spoke more to me as a dad with that inclusion than many other brands that say they want to cater to men and dads; and yet, they continue to show only mom with baby and use mom-centric language in their descriptions. There are the pioneers who are willing to take on challenges and beat new paths and there are those who are content where they are safe and sound. One is not better than the other and in the world of marketing it is nonetheless a never-ending debate, but I’ve always admired the pioneers.

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Is this thing on?

I’m not the first and I will not be the last. I do hope, though, that those who choose to check in from time to time will find my thoughts and insights interesting and useful. I will share my likes and dislikes on whatever I come across on a daily basis. I’ll try to stick to product reviews about the baby and children products that I use as well as all the other gadgets that I love, the stationary I obsess about, the fountain pens that I collect, the watches I pine over and anything that a daddy might need to survive with a kid in the Urban Jungle! You will think things I say are thoughtful and other things I say are silly. You will agree and disagree. So here we go…