Kimberley-Clark, to promote its brand Huggies, has started a grant program for innovative moms called MomInspired. The basic idea is that K-C will provide up to $15k in seed money to the moms who have the best ideas for an invention or startup business that will address a currently unmet parenting need.
Elaine Wong of Brandweek asked me to weigh in with my thoughts on the program (because I always have an opinion, right?) I think it’s a potentially fantastic idea, with a sadly lame execution. Here’s why:
What I like about the idea:
- “Mothers of Invention” line – fabulous!! I didn’t do a search to see if it’s been much used before in the “mom” space. If not, it should have been – brilliant way to encapsulate the reality that, as the saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and mothers are on the front line of necessity every day. When I see all the fabulous new products that moms have today – much more portable, convenient & cleanable strollers, car-seats, cribs, high chairs; better designed clothing, diapers & toys – I just wish there had been more “mothers of invention” in executive positions at Graco, McLaren, Playskool, Pampers, Huggies, etc.
- Good fit with the fact that many working women choose to stay home for a few years while their kids are little, and many who want to keep their hand in may want to start a business – So definitely a need.
What seems lame:
- “… Up to $15,000?” Really?! Wow, such a commitment. If this program is to have any impact, they will likely spend at minimum tens ofÂ thousands of dollars communicating the program (if all they do is changeÂ their packaging, and send out a couple of email blasts – which would limit the program’s impact to people who already buy their brand); more likely hundreds of thousands of dollars – assuming the reason they are doing the program at all is to get some “corporate halo” for supporting women – they won’t get much in the way of “props” if they don’t communicate it widely. So they are putting massively more money into the media than the message – Talk about “green-washing!”
- “First’ submission period starts soon.” Ummm…. Are they saying they’re going to SPLIT the big $15K across multiple moms? Come ON! Even if the whole $15K went to one mom, it will barely be enough to make a difference – especially if she actually invents something that will need to be manufactured (as opposed to offering a service, which wouldn’t have nearly the development, legal and capital requirements). If K-C splits it across multiple moms, it basically amounts to micro-lending in US terms. True – this is done all the time by companies and foundations, who offer $2K or $5K grants – but that just means ALL of them are lame, and K-C is just like everyone else.
Too bad, really. They could have done something truly meaningful with this… And that would have rightly earned them some true recognition – and spending support – from women, both current customers and, more importantly, customers of competitors.
If you’d like to read more, Elaine wrote a very interesting article about the MomInspired program, using my comments along with other well-informed opinions. Read the full Brandweek article here.