Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Philips Norelco 2: Now With More Offensive Marketing!!!

A week ago, after a month-long wait for a Philips rep to call or email me (as promised by another Philip representative), I went ahead and published my post about the ignorant way Philips markets their kids' hair clipper as "Made for Moms." That post showed Philips' previous cooperation with blogging dads for the cynical marketing ploy that it was--an attempt to gain publicity in a niche market, rather than a sincere attempt to as much as acknowledge fatherhood.

During this past week, I've also found a link to some of the top people at Philips, and sent them an email, reminding them of their promise to call me back, and linking to my post. Zach from 8BitDad sent an email to other Philips marketing execs, also linking to the post.

In his email, Zach mentioned other mother-only marketing by Philips, specifically for its Avent brand.

Philips offensive marketing

Now, some of the Avent items are breast-feeding accessories, and it would be silly to market them to parents in general. However, (at least) most fathers feed their babies with bottles now and then, so to market baby bottles as motherhood products ignores reality and intentionally excludes fathers.

And what about their inspirational baby-monitor tips page?

Philips offensive marketing

"As a mother you know there is nothing more important than the connection with your baby, this is something we really take to heart at Philips AVENT."

Good on you, Philips. I have to assume that when Mommy connects with our baby I will get drunk in my man-cave. If it's good enough for Philips marketing execs, it's sure good enough for me.

By the way, let's look at Philips Avent tip number 10 for new mothers, titled "You Time":

Philips offensive marketing

"You know that making the most of being a new mum requires a little bit of rest, make sure you set aside some time for yourself even if it just means getting a friend over to watch your baby while you do a little gardening. It's an important part of social development for your baby to enjoy time with new people."

Two things. First of all, this is the US site of Philips (usa.philips.com), so she's not "a new mum." Secondly, I agree that she requires a little bit of rest and needs to set aside some free time for herself. But does that mean she must call a friend (while she does the gardening)? You know, Dad is right here. True, he's probably otherwise preoccupied--getting drunk, watching UFC with his buddies 24/7, but hey, as long as Mum does the gardening I might as well pitch in...

I was also curious to revisit the kids' clippers page on Amazon. I was first made aware of this product by reading an Amazon review written by a mother, complaining about the way Philips ignored her husband in its marketing, so naturally I headed there. Scrolling down, I stopped at the product description.

Philips offensive marketing

Yep. It's "made for women's hands." That's why dads are ignored by Philips. Our hands are simply too big for parenting. However, there are two ironic points I must make:

1. Amazon itself has an equally idiotic marketing plan for parents. You can sign up for their parenting plan and get discounts on some items and fast shipping for a year. However, you will then be a part of "Amazon Mom." Now, dads, grandparents, aunts, foster parents, and all other--let's face it--secondary caregivers (you know, the ones who deal with kids when Mum is out gardening) are welcome to join. Mighty nice of Amazon to make us feel included in the b-list of parenting.

2. And the second point is that if Mum is out gardening as soon as she can take a break from her parental duties, her hands might become rough, and then what? Her man-hands won't be able to handle this delicate machine, obviously made for more princessy moms.

And finally, this happened:

Philips offensive marketing

That third one is a Dutch marketing firm based in Holland, which did (and probably still does) some of the marketing for Philips (a Dutch company). So the emails worked and finally Philips paid attention. I received this email on Sunday.

Thanks for your candor in reaching out and sharing your thoughts with us. I apologize that you did not receive a response sooner. With regards to your comments about the Philips Kids Hair Clipper, we fully appreciate that both moms and dads take an active role in parenting and our campaign was not meant to convey otherwise. Our research shows that moms are the primary shoppers and users of hair clippers for kids, so we designed a marketing campaign specifically for that audience. Some of the language that you reference speaks directly to insights that were shared by moms during our product research and development process, such as the smaller, more ergonomic design that makes the clipper easier to maneuver.

Consumer insights are a huge driver in Philips’ product and marketing innovation. As such, we develop campaigns that resonate with a core consumer group – in this case, moms. Again, it’s not meant to be exclusionary, but rather direct and relatable for the person who is most likely researching and seeking information about the product line.

Thanks again for your feedback and I hope this provides some insight.

Kind regards,

Shannon Jenest
Director, Public Relations
Philips Consumer Lifestyle

1600 Summer Street
P.O. Box 120015
Stamford, CT 06912-0015

Tel: +1 203 351 5769 Mobile: +1 917 279 0843

So everything is clear now. The kids' hair clipper is small and made for princessy hands not because Philips hates fathers, but because that's what their focus group wanted. Their focus group of moms.

Furthermore, Philips doesn't mean to be exclusionary when their parenting products specifically market only to single mothers with small hands. After all, if you're a mother whose hands are not that delicate, or if you're a dad, you're probably covered anyway by an extension on your Swiss Knife.

It can all end here, with yet another tone-deaf company with idiotic and cynical marketing, stuck with ancient ideas about parental responsibilities and hand-sizes. Or we can try to push forward to make a change.

You can join me in emailing the Philips execs listed on their marketing page, or email Ms. Jenest, whose email address was included in the email she sent me, and express your concerns.

I'm terrible at self-marketing, so it's uncomfortable for me to say that, but as long as I believe it's for a good cause--you can link to this page and/or to last-week's post on Facebook and on Twitter. Even better, you can write about it yourselves if you have blogs.

The last thing I will try to do, and hopefully get some support from readers (because I have no idea what I'm doing), is try to get some media attention. It's one thing to write a blog post about the exclusion of dads in marketing, and it's another thing for the national media to pay attention. It's not just me and it's not just Philips. Maybe we can create interest in the way blogging dads in general try to push companies to accept the shocking fact that fathers love their children too.

1/24/12 Update: Philips changes its website: Thanks*, Philips!


  1. I am offended. I am a woman with non-princess hands. I am not a mother but my boyfriend is a divorced father. Fathers involvement is very important. My sister's husband does the haircutting for all three of their boys and even cuts her hair to save money.
    Marketing needs to focus on parents in general.

  2. Rach, thanks. Although I bet your brother-in-law doesn't cut his kids' hair with a hair-clipper. Real men use chainsaws.

  3. I loved your post here! Very interesting to read the responses from Philips. I actually mentioned your post in a post on my blog. Im a guy and I work as a nurse, so the similarities between many of the ads for parenting and nursing are pretty obvious when it comes to them being directed towards a female readership. I didn't really expect it to be any different. But it does really make you feel like an outsider. Thanks for providing such an interesting post and keep up the good work.


  4. Thanks, Steve. The thing is that we get all these mixed messages too. Dads are being told to "step up" and be partners in parenting, and then when we do that, we're basically asked to make way for the real parents (the moms).

  5. I just finished, reading both blogs, on the Phillips marketing strategies, and have found myself disappointed yet again by more....MOM only ads.

    I have seen this far to often on many different lines, and am about to embark on item myself in hopes to better a SAHM product, which I rather like, but is only available in pink....lol

    I just Recently took over parental leave, and am loving my SAHD status, but am frustrated at how differently we are treated over-all

  6. I know. Everyone keeps telling us we should be good responsible parents, but then when we do, they tell us to make way for the "real" parent.

  7. That is disappointing :( It's interesting to hear Steve mention that it's the same stereotype for male nurses. Kudos to the companies that treat dads, guys and SAHD with intelligence.

  8. Trey, in case you haven't seen the latest post, Philips has changed the description for the clippers from "Made for Moms" to "Made for Parents." The Philips Avent stuff is still the same, but it's still kind of a big deal.

  9. Awesome... I was directed here after the link was posted on my original Amazon Vine review complaining that my Husband was ELIMINATED from the products advertising and tutorial video. I was offended... I can only begin to imagine how fellow co-parenting fathers felt. Wonderful movement that I wish I had known about sooner.

  10. Thanks, Sofia. And like I said, the only reason I even thought about contacting Philips was your review (so you've been a part of it from the beginning).

  11. That certainly was an interesting read. It is appalling that there are companies that seem to blatantly disregard fathers. It is, however, good to know that there are people working to get rid of the issue. Equality is always the best policy.

    seo reseller

  12. Late to this but I'm curious how much of this is driven by what the market feedback is telling them locally. I know for certain that Phillips, a Dutch company, is very much inclusive and a very progressive thinking company overall.

    This seems quite out of the norm for them.

    1. See, for me that's even worse, because it might be 100% about marketing in both cases. They're inclusive where their marketing shows they should be inclusive, and they ignore dads where it's beneficial to them to do that.

      When I talked to the Philips Norelco marketing guy, he gave me the "We take these things seriously" BS, adding that because it's such a large company that's based in Europe, change will take a long time, as if the Dutch owners are the ones who stand between Philips and an inclusive marketing campaign...

    2. It really makes me wonder what is driving what, the marketing driving conventions or vice versa. I suspect local convention is leading, simply because it's easier (cheaper) for marketeers to preach to the converted.

      So what makes local conventions in one advanced western society so different to another?

      I some bits of this from a while back highlight the Dutch ideas - http://martinfitzgerald.me/?page_id=22

    3. Reminds me of the health-care debate here. A relative living in London asked me why people here were supporting insurance companies over their own interests--why they thought getting cheaper/free health-care would make them less free...

      For some reason, my "Because there are millions of idiots in this country" wasn't enough for her.

      Congratulations on your new blog!

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