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The Rat who is made of Stainless Steel

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Mothercare... What's In a Name?
Let's Have a Heated Debate!
As moosical and thelovebug will be aware of*, I'm not a fan of Mothercare.

*Much to their frustration I suspect! ;-)

I absolutely understand...

... the power of a brand, and the issue of changing the name (yet fail to understand why so many brands go through expensive and seemingly pointless rebranding).

... the reasons why Mothercare was called Mothercare.

... that Mothercare stocks products that only mothers use. Although of course it stocks products that fathers can buy e.g. formula, baby bottles, clothes and toys.

I don't have an E in GCSE Spanish for nothing you know!

But... in the 21st century parental roles are far different to what they were when Mothercare started, 50 years ago, for the better of course - much like a number of traditions, the inequality of the female role was one that desperately needed addressing. And this role change was also valid in the latter part of the 20th century. I knew at least one single dad, and I'm sure there were/are many more.

So surely this is a worthy case of rebranding? They could call themselves Babycare, Parentcare, Familycare, Mother and Fathercare. I don't really care, although Parentcare seems an obvious choice. And this blog post even suggests it was going to happen in March 2009, although (a) patently it hasn't and (b) the plural of blog is not fact.

I am sufficiently put out by the Mothercare name that I refuse to shop there, and I would encourage other fathers to do the same - we all know that "megacorps" tend to only respond to one thing, when someone feels up their wallet.

I'm also sure most of you will be thinking "what's the problem? what bothers you about this?". The latter I have covered above. The former is really just a case of personal opinion, although tradition plays a part in it as well, and tradition is a hard thing to overcome.

Anyway, I finally got around to writing to Mothercare, and got this response:

Dear Mr Mark Taylor

Thank you for your e-mail.

We know how much our customers expect from us, and we want both mums and dads to enjoy shopping with Mothercare. I'm sorry that you didn't feel this to be the case.

As you stated in your e-mail, Mothercare is a brand name which has been around for nearly half a century. It is a world wide recognised name which is ever increasing internationally.

We welcome both Mother's and Father's to shop with us and our advertising and literature is mainly aimed at parents rather than Mother's.

Your feedback is important as it gives us a chance to understand how our customers feel about us. We remain confident in our name and have no plans to make any changes.

I'm sorry once again that you feel disappointed. I do hope you will shop with us again in the future.

Kind Regards

Customer Care Advisor

So kudos to Mothercare for responding, although of course it is not the response I would have liked - no great surprise there.

But like any campaign, if enough people believe in it, and more so if enough people take their trade elsewhere, Mothercare will be forced to do something.

You can support this by (a) not shopping there (b) sending them an email, just like I did and (c) fan-erise my Facebook page.

And before you write off a Facebook fan page or group as having any impact whatsoever, read this.

Edit: At the time of writing I've managed to drop this blog entry into the No. 2 position on Google for "mothercare parentcare".

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I feel I want to respond but I dont actually know how to respond. I'm surprised that it provokes such a reaction though. It's just a name of a shop.

edited; I mean, I can understand that it's not exactly PC, but isn't it the same issue as Pizza Hut find themselves with these days and why they temporarily changed their name last year to promote their pasta dishes?

Edited at 2010-01-29 10:51 am (UTC)

I've tried hard to convey this over Facebook, but it's just one of those things that provokes a reaction in some. I'm sure you have causes you support, that others don't have any interest in? Meant with the greatest respect.

Not sure I understand the Pizza Hut connection...

It was just hat the name of Pizza Hut implies that Pizza is the predominant product whereas the name suggests it's just Pizza. Mothercare implies it's just for Mothers but is actually for anyone with a baby (just my 2 cents that's all - not criticising your opinion).

Pizza Hut is less likely to cause upset though I guess, but who knows...

Maybe so!

But I hadn't thought about Mothercare causing upset until reading your post today.

I'm sorry it upsets you so much.
Frankly I've never thought about it, but then I see it just as a word that represents a shop. I mean when you go to Boots you don't expect to buy boots, or for it only to be a shop for people wearing boots.
But then I'm not a parent, and I can't have children, so it's not really a shop that features in my life

I ought to put the upset into context. I'm not going to chain myself to the railings outside the Houses of Parliament, or go on hunger strike, but I do find it annoying :-)

Perhaps Boots should be just shoes. I mean it's shoe-ist, right? ;-)

when you go to Boots you don't expect to buy boots,

I do.

Re: when you go to Boots you don't expect to buy boots,

Had any luck with that?

Re: when you go to Boots you don't expect to buy boots,

No but i found some verruca socks...

Re: when you go to Boots you don't expect to buy boots,

Ahhhh nice! All the rage I hear.

Re: when you go to Boots you don't expect to buy boots,

yeah, he wears them in bed. very natty

Re: when you go to Boots you don't expect to buy boots,

Kinky! ;-)

Re: when you go to Boots you don't expect to buy boots,

Especially the ones with Apple logos on them.

Re: when you go to Boots you don't expect to buy boots,

I wouldn't buy any other sort.

I have a personal hatred of mothercare. When Hannah was a baby I took her out for the day shopping. We got to the point that her nappy needed changing. I was buying things in mothercare so I thought I'd use their changing facilities. The big problem was they had a policy that forbids men from entering the baby changing area (I don't know if this policy is still in effect). I ended up leaving my shopping dumped in the middle of the floor and took my daughter and our shopping to another store. I've not been back to mothercare since.

Heh, so their sexism extends beyond the name. Interesting.

A Facebook friend pointed out that their Guildford shop is one of the most child-unfriendly there. You have to sidle between some aisles, let alone get a pram through them.

That's definitely not the case in the ones I have been in recently. Their changing rooms are for anyone.

Thing is there are still places that have issues. Lots of pubs/restaurants that offer 'baby change' offer it in the ladies toilets. Assuming that it would be the woman doing the changing.

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