Friday, February 27, 2009

Three Years Ago Today

Three years ago today, my contractions were starting. I was trying to get work done between them. And I managed to, thank you very much. I was preparing for the best day of my life. I wanted all the extraneous details and loose ends tied so that I could do nothing but gaze at my son, trace the wrinkles in his baby skin and ponder my new role of mother.

Here I am today, three years later, preparing for a rockin' three-year-old birthday. I have more loose ends to tie than I can count. I need to re-cover my dining room chairs, I need to make 35 cupcakes, I need to burn 10 kids' CDs and print covers. I have a grad school project due. The boys' dirty clothes basket is overflowing. I need to get 'real' work - the paying work - done between all these things. I am so tired, it feels as though there are little elves behind my eyeballs leaning up against them trying to pop them out.
And I really need to paint my front door because it is driving me nutty, but I have to let go of that one. I know - there are limits.

Oh, have I embraced that role of mother.

I took my birthday boy to the doctor today for a check up. I listened to new moms in the waiting room - strangers to each other - sharing their brand tips. 'Do you have a Bumbo?' 'Yes, those things are amazing!' I laughed to myself, both as a researcher of mom consumer behaviors and as someone who was not long ago in that same situation. Oh but now I am a sage, of course. [She says facetiously.]

I reminded my big boy that tomorrow is his big day. I asked if he was ready to be three. 'Not YET!' he replied. Duh, mom. He'll be ready tomorrow; not today. Everything has its time. It's rhythm. He obviously knows this better than I do.
My front door will get painted in time. For now, I'll soak in this day and the next and be grateful for my little life changer. For how he's inspired me. For the past three years. For what's in store for us.
Happy birthday, baby.

Monday, February 23, 2009

DVR: One of Many Mom Superpowers

Could DVR prevent the ‘gimmies’ evoked by commercials?

The older Hawklet has only recently learned what a commercial is. Watching a show he was particularly in to recently (God only knows what that was if not on PBS), a commercial appeared and he promptly commanded me to put his show back on. Sorry, bud, but if this mom was truly that powerful, I’d be doing a lot more than just skipping over commercials. I explained that I had no control over this interruption, and by the way, it is called a commercial. “A com-MERCIAL?” he asked, volume crescendoing as he elongated his pronunciation of this new word.

Hmmm…did I want him to be more aware of commercials? Not particularly. Had I just encouraged him to tune in to this newfound phenomenon? Ugh. I suddenly sort of regretted drawing his attention to them.

I also realized two things in the brief course of this exchange: 1) being a conscious consumer is definitely a learned behavior, 2) DVR might be one of the most mom-friendly inventions of the last several years.

We sheltered our Hawklet from too much TV-watching in the beginning stages of our parenthood, fearful of ‘those’ studies that ‘those’ third-party research institutes that I now can’t name offhand said would give him ADD. And, I am that nerd who took on a two-year independent research study as an undergrad focused on the impact that advertisements during children’s programming have on perpetuating gender and racial stereotypes. Gender and racial stereotypes and my Hawklets don’t mix. And ADD scares me.

And besides cautions around greed, ADD, gender stereotypes and racial profiling (as if that isn’t enough!), a recent report from the Center for Media Research pointed to the fact that even commercials embedded within sports programming are unsafe for kids. They are violent and sex-crazed. More characteristics with which my Hawklets don’t mix!

Did you notice the number of times someone was flung from a window, hit by a bus, trampled by an animal, or generally knocked unconscious in commercials that aired during this year’s Super Bowl? Ever considered whether those 30 seconds could be causing your little one stress? Me neither.

But this recent study showed that one in six ads aired during a football game is inappropriate for kids. This is Sunday afternoon television, folks, not after-the-kids-should-be-in-bed-anyway kind of stuff.

DVR can save us from fretting over such issues. So now it has received a spot on my favorites list. (And if you’ve been following along, that means it falls in line right after drive-thrus and VapoRub.)

Will those seemingly harmless interruptions during the quickly approaching March Madness spill over into your little ones’ psyches? Perhaps DVR could make your household’s March a little less Mad. You go, Supermom.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The ‘Back-Burner’ National Crisis?

For the past couple weeks I’ve been doing my best to not blog about Nadya Suleman. Don’t act like you don’t know who she is. You’ve been just as ...disgusted? sympathetic? ...okay, intrigued by her story as I have. But I just didn’t want to go there. Whatever I have to say, you’ve already heard it from the countless others who have taken one side or the other in their judgment.

Then today I decided to see what would appear if I searched simply for the word “moms” in Google News. Guess what – there was Nadya Suleman, of course, being kept company by a college reporter's take on Bristol Palin’s TV interview, a story about a 13-year old boy who has fathered an infant in the U.K., and a report on Travis Henry, the NFL player who has nine children by nine women. (I say ‘the’ realizing that it’s quite possible he’s not the only NFL player in this predicament.)


I wasn’t necessarily expecting to be hit with controversy from that otherwise safe search term. I would have settled for a tips piece about working moms. I would have welcomed a feel-good feature about moms helping each other through hard times. Even a marketing trends story about moms and social networks. But instead I was reminded that there are a lot of national crises going on today, and some of them happen to center around parenthood and happen to involve little ones. This is not an exclusive club to which we moms belong, even though our members are responsible for raising our future leaders.

For her part Bristol Palin provided this sage point of view: “I hope that people learn from my story and just like, I don't know, prevent teen pregnancy, I guess.”

Things that make you go ‘hmmm’…

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Getting Your Groove On … in the Bathroom

It’s the newest dance craze sweeping the nation…er, uh, I mean it’s the newest marketing campaign aimed at moms of toddlers on that cusp of being ‘bid kids.’

And I can’t help but take note as one such mom in the throws of getting all jump-up-and-down-clapping-and-woo-hooing excited about peeing on the potty. Yes, I’m in that motherhood stage where talking about peeing and pooping is not only appropriate, but sometimes very exciting.

And what does this have to do with a dance craze? Oh yes, back to that.

Now, Kimberly-Clark, the maker of Pull-Ups training pants, which we use, has invented the “Potty Dance,” designed to get toddlers and moms dancing all Macarena-esque in hopes it will create a “ritual” that helps support that quest for big-kid-hood.

I wonder what those focus groups were like.

Just in case you don’t have enough to ‘teach’ your little one with regards to how this whole potty thing works, throwing some choreography in the mix is actually going to help. So the folks at Kimberly-Clark believe. What do you believe?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reflections on My Reflection

When you look in the mirror, do you like what you see?

It’s one of the things I love to watch my Hawklets do – they get excited to see themselves in the mirror. They stick out their tongues. They smile. They point. They’ve never done anything any differently when they gaze at their reflections but stop for a minute, linger and flirt with themselves. They have absolutely no reason to want to change anything in that vision bouncing back to them. But what about the rest of us? At some point we lose this love affair with our reflections. We succumb to marketing messages that we need this in order to be a better wife, mother, person. We need that to look better, dress better, spend more, eat less. We need to change. We are not good enough.

I don’t want these messages polluting my Hawklets’ love affair with themselves.

Over the past few years, Dove has done a ground-breaking job attempting to make us all feel better about what we’ve got in a way that sells soap. Remember when sex sold? You know, the age-old marketing ploy that robbed you of your self-esteem? Your desire to gaze into the mirror and smile back? It’s not a new campaign, but the genius inside the reverse psychology Dove packaged up into a marketing powerhouse continues to wow me.

When asked, moms have actually named Dove as the no. 1 brand for health. For health? For health. This is not a brand prescribed by doctors. Unless you’re battling chronic dirt, soap can’t cure what ails you. Yes, hand-washing is important in germ fighting, but we’re talking about soap…shampoo…lotion…these things are not meant to remedy the ‘sick.’ But Dove is the perfect example that savvy marketing and brand positioning can elevate you to the perception that you are about more than being clean, smelling good, and accomplishing a daily ritual. Savvy marketing can make moms think you provide them with the balance for which they are constantly searching. That you can make them emotionally feel something. That you offer heightened self esteem. That you offer an escape from pressures to be perfect. These are heady issues. And this is soap.


Dove, on behalf of moms everywhere who delight in seeing their kids love the little people who look back at them from inside the mirror, thank you and keep it up.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Making Us Proud

Just received this email from Mimi, our co-hort in training exercises:

"Graham has on big boy pants and he peed on the potty. His words - Mommy and Daddy will be so proud."

More than he knows!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New Use for Old PEZ

PEZ was first marketed as a compressed peppermint candy over 70 years ago in Vienna, Austria. The name PEZ was derived from the German word for peppermint... PfeffErminZ.”

Now, at the Hawks house, PEZ is the tasty alternative to peeing in your diaper!

Yes, the potty training tips have run rampant in our circles of conversation lately, from putting M&Ms in a jar on the toilet, to putting Cheerios in the toilet water to play target practice, but I think we’ve created our own rewards system thanks to the abundance of PEZ we received in our Christmas stockings. (That's right, mom marketers, three different potty training strategies all which revolve around certain non-potty-related brands...!)

Peeing in the potty will score you two PEZ at the Hawks house. I’m not sure what pooping in the potty scores you, as we haven’t gotten that far yet. We should probably be ready. But so far, two PEZ for peeing seems to be working pretty well.

At least for now … so if you have a minute and any sort of potty training tip (brand-related or not), please leave it in the Comments section. Please. PLEASE! PLEEEEEAAAAASE! You don’t know how old it is becoming changing two toddler boys’ diapers.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Super-est Part of the Bowl

On the tails of a night of eye-peeling television advertisement watching, the mom marketer in me is stuck somewhere between giving pats on backs and putting people in time out.

The first commercial of the Super Bowl following the National Anthem was for … wait for it … Avon. Avon? As you can imagine, the men in my family room weren’t necessarily taking note. I think rather than spur makeup and jewelry party chatter, that Avon spot gave the guys a hall pass to the kitchen where the Bud Light sat awaiting some attention. For me, though, that Avon spot, so carefully placed at the pivotal moment between anthem and kick-off was the manifestation of what we know from research: that women are indeed in charge at home. We are the spenders. We are the decision makers. And we are watching sports, too, especially when we can make an event of it because we are the ones responsible for the family’s fun and togetherness. We organized the parties, we bought and prepared the snacks, we cleaned with our household products (although you know that at the Hawks house, Hubby and I cleaned together).

Yes, we females were marketed to in the Super Bowl! New proof we are slowly taking over world domination! And putting the ever-so-obviously-female Avon ad aside for a moment, women weren’t necessarily left out of the rest of the equation last night. Budweiser did its thing to capture its softer side with a horsey love story. Pedigree depicted women and some beloved, though oversized pets.

The problem, for me, was that while women were given some advertiser love, moms weren’t. Yes, women like animals. (Alert the media!) But what are moms looking for, separate from women generally? According to national researchers, like those at the Marketing to Moms Coalition, there are big differences. Last night’s major ad players didn’t seem to care.

Where were the funny mom moments? The spit up? The poop? If I’ve learned one thing from motherhood, particularly as a mom of toddler boys, it’s that bodily functions can be funny. (And sometimes those functions best be funny just so you don’t kill yourself.) And if I’ve learned one thing about marketing to moms, it’s that moms want more mom-centric humor in advertising. They want to know that advertisers understand their trials and tribulations in a humorous way, a way that includes kids, and that acknowledges the many hats moms have to wear.

So, I lift my Budweiser to you, advertisers. May you become a little more intimately familiar with me – and all my world-dominating mommy cohorts – before next year’s big game.

Thank you for listening. Apology accepted. Now give me a hug and time out will be over!