Three years into a campaign by fathers and other caregivers to get online retail giant Amazon to recognize their role in raising children by broadening the “Amazon Mom” branding for its U.S. child-care discount program, the Seattle-based company has quietly changed the name to “Amazon Family.”
More than 13,800 people backed the new name in a petition started in 2012 on Change.org. Most of those supporters joined the cause this year — flooding Amazon with thousands of tweets, emails and Facebook postings — when friends of a deceased dad blogger took up the cause to honor him.
Though the Amazon’s subscription-based service for deals on diapers, baby wipes and such products had long been “open to anyone, whether you’re a mom, dad, grandparent, or caretaker,” as used to be stated on its web site, the name irked many as old-fashioned stereotyping in today’s society. The name, opponents said, failed to recognize men — single, gay or stay-at-home — as capable of raising children as well as those other relatives or adults who take on a parenting roles.
Stay-at-home father Oren Miller of Owings Mills, Md., who died in February at age 42 after a public battle with lung cancer, first wrote about his issues with the Amazon name back in 2013 on his A Blogger and A Father site. One of his main problems: Amazon used the more encompassing “Family” name for the program in most other countries including Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and France.
“It’s not about a name and it’s not about me personally being offended …,” Miller wrote. “It’s about a company that looks at the U.S., then looks at England, and then decides that over there, parent equals mom or dad, while here, well, we’re not ready for that yet. …
“In a way, it’s meaningless. Who cares about the name Amazon uses for its parenting program. On the other hand, what does it say about us?”
Following Miller’s death, several of his friends and online dad blogging acquaintances took up the name change battle to honor his memory.
“I know some accused those of us involved in this campaign of being a bunch of whiny dads with nothing better to do. I beg to differ — visibility is important. As a parent and as a gay man, I know this firsthand on a couple of levels, ” blogger Brent Almond of Maryland, a close family friend of Miller’s, told City Dads Group in an online interview. “Sure, it’s nice to have one less thing labeled as exclusively for ‘moms,’ but more importantly it’s one more way our society can be inclusive of all kinds of families, regardless of how many parents a family has, what gender they are, and what roles the parents have.”
Beth Ilise Blauer, Miller’s widow, said she was “shocked” to learn about the change last night from a friend on Facebook. “It’s done. It’s incredible that no generation of people going forward are going to be subjected to the discrimination inherent in that name,” she said in a phone interview with City Dads Group.
Miller would be “elated” with the change — noting that he was more baffled by Amazon’s name choice than angry about it — and with the love shown to him by his friends in helping making it happen, Blauer said.
“I don’t think he ever expected that this would happen but I don’t think it would surprise him that the change came about as it did – quietly,” she said
Despite the online campaign and numerous reports by major media outlets such as CNN.com, Fox Business and Parenting.com throughout 2015, Amazon never publicly commented on the name – not even with a “no comment.” Blauer said shortly after her husband’s death she even made a personal plea to a friend who is an executive with Amazon. She has never talked or heard from the person since, she said.
This time has been no different. The Amazon.com press releases page doesn’t mention the name change and the program merely says “Amazon Mom is now Amazon Family.” As of publication, Amazon’s media relations department did not return either a phone message or e-mail seeking comment for this article.
While it is unclear how much of a role Miller and the campaign on his behalf ultimately had, it did have a real effect on someone close to him: his 7-year-old son, Liam.
When Blauer told the boy what had happened and how his father’s friends worked to try to make the name change on his behalf, she said he responded: “Aba (the Hebrew word for father) really was famous, wasn’t he?”
UPDATE: 3:01 P.M. Geekwire reports it asked an Amazon spokesperson if the dads’ campaign helped foster the change, the person only responded that “We are transitioning Amazon Mom to Amazon Family because the name better reflects the program.”