Last week while listening to Pandora, I heard a commercial for VistaPrint promoting “mommy cards” (along with networking cards and dating cards.)
What exactly is a “mommy card,” I wondered (and tweeted.)
Now before, you jump in and think, “how stupid are you, Susan, to not know what a “mommy card” is,” rest assured, I had a pretty good idea of what was intended. I just thought it was a bit silly and more than a bit sexist.
Unless you also have a separate line of “daddy cards,” promoting the “mommy card” associates the act of parenting entirely with one gender. And that is sexist. Undoubtedly inadvertent but still….
The term “calling card” seems perfectly suitable if you don’t want to call it a business card due to the more personal nature of the information. Or if you need to be more descriptive, call it a Family Card or a Parent Card, since it lists important family information that a parent might want to share with a babysitter or the parents of their children’s friends.
But this isn’t a post about sexism or gender bias. If I was going to stop at my rant about “the mommy card,” this post would be over on my personal blog Snapshot Chronicles.
Here, I write about marketing and social media. And I’d like you to take away two marketing lessons from my Twitter exchange about “mommy cards.”
First, if your brand is criticized online, you need to figure out if the critic is a rational individual or a wing-nut. Ignore the wing-nuts and engage with the rational ones. VistaPrint figured out I was a rational human being, and reached out to me on Friday.
The company Twitter persona told me why they promoted them as “mommy cards” and promised to share my feedback with the product team.
As I said in my tweets, I like the company. I’m a customer. I just didn’t like the concept of the “mommy card.” Full props to them for monitoring the Twitter stream and actively engaging with a customer. Makes it that much more likely that they’ll get my Christmas calendar order again this year.
Lesson number 2: VistaPrint told me that they used the term “mommy card” because the research indicated they should. My reply was that research didn’t make the term any less sexist.I firmly believe you can market calling cards to mothers without calling them “mommy cards.”
Now, you may disagree with me on the “mommy card” point (and I fully expect someone to do so), so don ‘t get too hung up on whether you agree with me that it is sexist. What I really want you to remember is that sometimes the research is wrong. Or more accurately, it is right, but you still shouldn’t do it.
This is particularly true when marketing to moms. Just calling a product “for moms” doesn’t make it so.
Be very careful about playing the mommy card.