Ragu Hates Dads

I hate how companies, movies and society likes to pick on the dads of the world by portraying us as clueless parents who don’t know our way around parenting. It is one of the main reasons I started Digital Dads and why I’m proud of Cast of Dads.

As a marketer I’ve worked with companies big and small to advise them on how to properly use online media, how to reach out to influencers and how to be smart about content. After years of successful campaigns I know enough to be able to say what works and doesn’t work.

Combine these two aspects of my life and you can understand why I’m so pissed at the stupidity of Ragu and whoever their agency is.

I’ve never interacted with Ragu on Twitter before and honestly don’t buy their product. So when I got the above @ message from them linking to a video I wondered what it was. A quick look at their Twitter stream showed me that they had @ spammed a bunch of dads with a link to the same video. Here is the video:

As the person in my household who does all of the shopping and all of the cooking I took offense to this video. Implying that dads can only cook the simple things and Ragu is somehow going to help make that easier. Give me a break!

I’m sure there are plenty of couples out there where this might be true, but once again we have a brand who has decided to only focus on the mom side of the parenting equation and play into the stupid stereotypes that dads get pegged with all the time.

When will brands wake up to dads and the active role we play in our children’s lives. I’m sick of seeing every company that wants to have a parenting focus completely forget about the male side of the equation. I long for a brand to embrace fathers and really step up and cover both sides of parenting.

Ragu, you failed. You tried to be clever and you blew it. Whoever your agency is that told you this was a good idea should be fired because they are doing things for you that snake oil salesman are selling companies on every day and you’ve written the check for it. You should have known better. They should have served you better.

I’m sure Ragu doesn’t really hate dads, but after this video I can firmly say that there are plenty of dads who will hate Ragu. I certainly now do.

Update: If you are just reading this, I hope you’ll read my follow up giving advice on how it could have been done better and then my final post after Ragu called me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/allenvanwert Allen Van Wert

    I don’t see anything being sexist in these videos. I am a dude with a girlfriend who happens to be one of these ragu women.. not in these videos however. I do all of the cooking and all of the shopping and we both enjoy it. Firstly think of it this way.. men historically decimate women at cooking and the proof of women using ragu instead of making their own sauce says it all. If women want to try to be cooks at home and feel good about it then I am all for it. Remember that they still make 75 cents on the dollar compared to men so if they are happy to be homemakers and poke fun at their husbands due to their lack of confidence or self appreciation.. that is fine. In THIS video there is no sexism at all and I am keen to sensing it.. like in this post I just wrote.. lots of sexism. This video is A OK with me!

  • http://www.facebook.com/allenvanwert Allen Van Wert

    Oh, also.. their ad got your attention and is being talked about.. yeah, on YOUR own blog. So I think you are wrong about it not being effective. Apparently you are ALL about their ad!

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      I love this argument that it was all fine and good because I’m talking about it. Not really the point when the commentary is a negative fashion.

      I write about things that catch my attention and yes I knew that by writing this I would draw some attention to it and I’m ok with that. As for if it “worked” that is impossible for us to know. Yes, it got my attention. But, it isn’t going to get me to buy their product and in the end isn’t that what they really wanted?

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  • http://twitter.com/justonpayne Juston Payne

    Given that slopping Ragu onto pasta is arguably the laziest meal anyone could possibly make, is their point that all the lazy dads in the world should run out and buy Ragu?

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      I do think that is exactly what they are suggesting and I’m sure some will do it. I’m just not one of them.

      • http://twitter.com/justonpayne Juston Payne

        It seems like a very strange way to position a brand. Brands typically appeal to their markets in a positive manner.  Branded gym chains, for instance, appeal to people’s desires to “look better,” “get fit,” or “be healthy.”  If a gym employed Ragu’s technique, they would commission men (or women) to rant about how fat their wives (or husbands) are, in the hope of pushing them into memberships.

  • http://www.techguerilla.com/ Matt Ridings – Techguerilla

    “Men are obviously better cooks, just look at the gender percentage of chefs.  Women are much better at the simple, less creative, stuff…like cooking at home”

    Pretty sure any marketing campaign that stated that would be roasted over a spit (yeah, I’m using a cooking metaphor).

    As the cook in my household am I offended by the video?  Not really.  It’s too badly done and ineffective to be offensive, I won’t give it that much respect.  I am however a little disheartened that some folks can’t at least see *why* it might offensive.



    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      Thanks Matt for chiming in as only you could.

      And yes, if rolls ever get flipped all hell breaks loose. But, do it in this direction and nothing happens since us guys are “over reacting.”

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  • Bobbie {OneScrappyMom}

    I think you took the message completely wrong in this video. Ragu wasn’t saying that dad’s don’t cook or that dad’s cook simple things, the message is that when dad cooks it’s different. I don’t know how you (being a father and the primary cook in your house) can disagree with that. SInce you are the primary cook, it’s probably different when you wife cooks. That’s not to say she can’t or she cooks a simpler meal. 

    Personally in my house, we have “daddy” dinners and we have “mommy” dinners. This probably stands true for most families. There are MANY reasons for that. The lasanga recipe we make is my grandmothers. It’s not hard, my husband can make it but he doesn’t. That’s a mommy meal, mostly because the times I make it, I like the kitchen free of the kids and everything else and it brings back the memories of cooking it with my grandmother. Now the grill.. I won’t touch it! It scares the crap out of me. My husband does all the grilling. Grilling takes more skill then some of the meals I throw together! 

    The underlying message in this video was not that dads can’t make dinner or take the easy way out, it’s simply that dinners, when cooked by others, are different, no matter who the other is (grandma that lives with you could have a completely different dinner routine then you and your spouse, etc). 

    On a side note, I had a visit to the Unilever kitchens and there was a dad in our group. Ragu is working on making dinnertime easier, no matter WHO cooks it. 

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      I appreciate your input on this discussion because in my mind every voice and opinion helps, but I disagree with you.

      No one can tell me how I feel and to me I didn’t like it. Ragu themselves told me this morning they made this video for moms. I’m a Dad. I didn’t like it. Some others will.

      To each their own.

      • Bobbie {OneScrappyMom}

        I am not telling you how to feel. I am very aware that many things are going to cause reactions in this world, especially in the blogging world. The title of your post “Ragu hates dads” is simply not true. PERIOD. Look at their facebook page and the interaction they have with dads. If they were anti-dad they would not reach out to the dad’s that reached out to them. While this particular video and topic was targeted for moms, would you opinion be the same had they interviewed 3 dads and said What is dinnertime like when mom cooks? 

        You always have to look at both sides. I am not trying to be hasty or force an opinion, but when controversial things like this come up.. flip the coin and look at the other side. Would your opinion be the same? 

      • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

        I did look at the other side. Did you read the two other posts that have gone up since this one did a couple of days ago?

        I talked to Ragu today. They TOLD me this was only made for Moms and I told them that it was not a smart move to try to attract dads if the video was made for moms.

        As someone who works in this space I always look at both sides, but in my opinion there is only one side being shown. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, but then trying to start a conversation with me and other dads about it? That was the dumb and insulting part to me.

      • Bobbie {OneScrappyMom}

        I have not read your other posts. Personally the way you headlined this post, I would be inclined to never read a word you have to say regarding another topic again. Sorry, but you came across very demanding and insulting of a company that you had no knowledge of the campaign. Many dads are completely fine with the topic, so no, it was not in bad taste of ragu to want the opinions of dads. Attacks? That’s a whole different topic. 

      • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

        Sorry you feel this way.

        Best part about the world we live in is that we are all entitled to our own opinions.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G7PMFLXXPPBLBPIMIQX3UJJS7I Berny

    Consider the source. Ragu is to real spaghetti sauce what grape Kool-Aid is to Beaulolais.

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      Zing! Wow…..

      Thanks for the laugh.

  • http://www.joemanna.com/blog/ Joseph Manna

    Someone is going to lose their job over this. And I hope they don’t put this on their resume as a ” successful social media campaign.”

    Thanks for sticking up for us guys, C.C.!

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      After talking to them today I really don’t think they realize that anything wrong was done so in their mind it is a successful campaign. Look at all the traffic they got.

  • http://twitter.com/allarts1 Bob Prout

    Yeah, and the moms in the commercial weren’t all that cute either

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=619110218 Liz Gumbinner

      And you’re a looker? Thanks for adding no value at all to this conversation, Bob.

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  • Anonymous

    Wow! That’s really offensively sexist! I cook loads of things from scratch that are healthy and nutritious for my children. I’ve been a home-dad for over ten years! Wouldn’t touch Ragu with a barge-pole. I make my own sauces!

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  • Niri

    I just have to say how disappointed I am to see how this conversation has turned.

    I agree that stereotyping is bad, no matter which way.
    I agree that tweeting someone into a link when there has been zero engagement is poor taste.


    I think the heading of this post is really inflammatory and wrong. Ignoring a sector of your audience is not the same as hating. Unwise maybe but hateful – no!

    I do think that the entire campaign was judged on the video/s. Videos which were separately created and not any of them were  the “ambassadors” Facebook page pasted in the post following this. I am one of those on the FB page and if you read any of the 20 somewhat posts you would see amazing content creation from recipes to ideas.

    I think valid and key points got lost when cheap shots (which I honestly hoped would have been doused to prevent them going on) like the women not even looking good in the video. Like I would tell my 4 year old – be nice and be fair. That was really a mean comment.

    Speaking about the quality of the sauce is another thing. That had NOTHING to do with the point yet was ranted often about.

    The worst was the lashing and defensive statements about who is really the better cook (famous and better used interchangeably) . These statements do not help, nor does judging the “laziness” of using sauce in a jar. I drag my special needs kid to therapy and sometimes arriving home late I have to opt for a sauce out of a jar, even though I cook most days. Don’t judge – you are not helping everyone see us as one. 

    I guess it may be fun for so many to jump on a bandwagon – but maybe this wagon better be steered back to what was once a valid point.

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately, Ragu is the cheapest brand at our store, and wife does the shopping. Yes, your takeaway from here should be that Batman is indeed, married, with two kids, that look great in capes and cowls 😉

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  • http://twitter.com/Hip_M0M Sondra Santos Drahos

    I didn’t hear about this until I found your post. Didn’t bother clicking on the video since in my house, my husband does the cooking and my oldest son actually prefer it when he does. I even have to offer up a little white lie every once in a while to tell him that I used my husband’s recipe when I cooked so he’ll actually eat what I’ve prepared.

    And we don’t buy Ragu in our house. Never have, never will and as a mom blogger who receives pitches from various companies all the time, I have to say that I agree 100% with what you have to say. My site has the word “parenting” in the title and even though my primary readers are women, my goal was to create a space where both moms and dads, straight or otherwise, married or single, feel comfortable and find a sense of community and support there.

    Dads of our generation are a different breed. It’s time the media and larger companies who cater to families start recognizing this.

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      Thank you for chiming in and focusing in on the fact that the biggest mistake was the way they went about trying to engage dads rather than the actual video itself.

      I’m glad to know there are plenty of other parents out there that are bothered by this. It isn’t only a mom or dad issue.

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  • http://investinsocial.com Jason Keath

    So weak. In so many ways.

    • http://investinsocial.com Jason Keath

      Ragu of course. Not you CC.

  • http://twitter.com/jonmikelbailey Jon-Mikel Bailey

    I make dinner every night. God bless my wife, she is a great mom, but no culinary master. 

  • Hans Frans Begans

    Eh, I honestly don’t see how this is so bad.

  • Hans Frans Begans

    Eh, I honestly don’t see how this is so bad.  I see our oversensitivity to every-fucking-thing as a bigger problem.

    I teach my kids to be non-racist, non-sexist, non-asshole, critical thinkers and they’ve gotten the lesson by themselves that they should pretty much just ignore any advertising or retarded opinion hocking on the TV or internet altogether.

    Sorry, I don’t see the big injustice here.

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  • SE

    Another example of Social justice in rare form. I would love to see the communications you had with Ragu before this post.  I am sure you tried to work with them first before taking to skewing them for a single marketing idea across your platforms.  The point of the campaign was simple, even if it was not a fit for you or your way of parenting.  Surely the agency made a mistake in contacting you in the first place but don’t you think, given your personal “klout” you owe the company a private response before you do something like this?

    • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

      No, I don’t believe I do since they reached out to me with their @ spam like they did to some other dads.

  • Swid00

    I’ve been making my own red sauce from scratch for 15 years.  It tastes much better than any Ragu product.  I will never buy any of there products because there will never be a need for me to eat sauce from a can.

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  • Katja

    Yes, families are all very different, and Ragu missed the mark. I just discovered this site, and on another note, I am a feeding specialist and the information on these videos is pretty atrocious. Yes, we can related to being worried our kids aren’t eating enough, or too much, but this site normalizes really abnormal feeding behaviors, “if you don’t eat, no Santa!” Really? I often see dads actually do better with feeding because they seem less anxious and less controlling. Not always, but often. Maybe you can write about that? I remember doing workshops with a dad’s parenting group and almost every question was, “My wife wanted me to ask you about,” or “My wife is worried about…” These were SAHDs for the most part who were orchestrating the meals. It is a fascinating dynamic. Anyway, just wanted to throw in a random thought, and here is my link..http://familyfeedingdynamics.com/2011/11/normalizing-abnormal-feeding-one-mommy-blogger-at-a-time/ Can the Daddy bloggers do better? I’d love to see it! Give me links! Thanks!