Small girl drags big company into 21st century.
A storm in a breakfast tea cup erupted this week over the wording on a cereal packet. Boxes of Kellogg’s Coco Pops are adorned with the slogan, “loved by kids, approved by mums.” It took a 10-year-old-girl to point out that a strapline which simultaneously belittles both mums and dads might not be appropriate on a box of sweetened rice, or indeed anything.
Hannah-Marie Clayton saw the slogan and immediately picked up pen and paper to write a letter of complaint. She told the Mirror:
“My mum was away so I was just with my dad when I saw it on the cereal box. It made me think that dads should be included as well because they are important too. Also, some people don’t have a mum and they might find it upsetting.”
In her letter Hannah-Marie wrote:
“I feel that quote is sexist, men are also able to make breakfast. My dad does it a lot for me because my mum works away a lot and is not always there for breakfast. I would recommend instead of putting ‘mums’, put parents or carers. It would just mean a small change. In this world today we shouldn’t just rely on women.”
It made me think that dads should be included as well because they are important too
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All PR is good PR
Kellogg’s responded in the only way a large corporation knows how: by grasping the PR opportunity.
A Kellogg’s spokesperson said: “We have now changed the wording on our new Coco Pops packs to say ‘approved by parents’. We agree with Hannah-Marie, dads love to have Coco Pops too.”
While we approve of Kellogg’s quick and decisive response, let me assure them that at least one dad doesn’t love to have Coco Pops, which is of course not really Hannah-Marie’s point anyway. But to be fair to the company, they wrote back and agreed to make the change, so that’s something.
What is more interesting is that nobody at Kellogg’s thought there was anything wrong with “loved by kids, approved by mums” until a ten-year-old’s letter of complaint.
“Incompetent, lazy, uninvolved”
OK, it’s not a big thing, but the inference of the slogan – mums do domestic duties, dads don’t – is irritating to everyone concerned. It also strongly implies that mums are in sole charge of the important household stuff, like nutrition, eating well, and so on.
We could take issue with the idea that Coco Pops is healthy eating, or that it is a breakfast choice of which mums in general “approve”, but in this case that’s not the point. What is the point is that, by implication, a clumsy strapline sidelines the role of dads, and simultaneously reasserts the outdated notion that mums are little more than domestic serfs.
Are we overreacting? Well, we’ve banged on before on DaddiLife about anti-dad bias in the media, and Popsgate (as it shall never be known) only confirms that there is much work to do. Dads in adverts have been portrayed as incompetent, lazy and uninvolved so often that the Advertising Standard Agency has threatened to ban ads that reinforce such lazy gender stereotypes. We’re not sure if that extends to slogans on cereal packets, but it probably should. The copywriters at Kellogg’s obviously need to be aware of just how involved in every area of parenting the modern dad usually is.
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Doofus dads in ads – the facts
- A 2012 study by The Parenting Group found that 66% of fathers think there is an “anti-dad societal bias.”
- The figure rises to 82% for dads with children under the age of 2.
- A 2016 BYU study found fathers were positively portrayed by the media less than half the time. Fathers were portrayed as “buffoons” 39.9% of the time, and in a negative light 6.7% of the time.
- According to a 2017 Saatchi & Saatchi NY survey, 74% of millennial fathers in the U.S. said they think advertisers and marketers are out of touch with modern family dynamics.