Jun 28, 2013 • By

The Families Project, by Betty Crocker

For decades, family has been at the heart of the houses we pass by on the streets of America, in cities and towns of all sizes.

But when you think about the neighborhood you live in today, one thing is clear – the definition of family has changed. Many new models have emerged for how families are formed and how children grow up.

To better understand the changes in family dynamics, the Betty Crocker team established The Families Project, now available at BettyCrocker.com/FamiliesProject.

The website features a compilation of research and personal perspectives to demonstrate who families are today, and how they are succeeding. It includes documentary-style videos, like this, to highlight how the “homemaker” is not who it used to be.

Leaders I talked to within Betty Crocker told me it makes good business sense for the brand to take a closer look at the family.

“I think we’re at a remarkable time in our country’s history where the facts about family are really evolving,” says Ann Simonds, senior vice president at General Mills, and president of Baking Products. “It just seemed like a logical time to step back and get smart about that. Much of our industry was built on a fairly traditional model of what a family included – a husband, a wife, 2.4 kids – and it was time to update our factual understanding so that we could really unleash our feelings about what family has always been about.”

Ann talks more about why the Betty Crocker brand sought to formally modernize its thoughts about what it means to make home today in this video clip – it also features insight on how The Families Project will inform product and marketing decisions, from Laura Forero, marketing manager for Betty Crocker.

From a business perspective, it’s necessary for adults and children in today’s family models to see themselves reflected in culture, including advertising, according to Stephanie Coontz, professor of History and Family Studies at The Evergreen State College.


“I think it’s very important that we provide a context in which people that are in these different kinds of families understand that they are valued,” says Coontz, who also is the director of Research and Public Education for the Council on Contemporary Families.

But, she told me in this audio clip, the business world has been slow to respond to the changes in the American family.

The Families Project reached out to Coontz to help tell the story of the unique strengths of today’s families.

She says she was interested in offering her insight because, in part, the project recognized “the tremendous variability of family life and the tremendous enthusiasm that most families – whatever their form and arrangements – have for treating each other in a respectful and loving way.”


The campaign came about quickly, as the Betty team enlisted the creative help of Zeus Jones, who was eager to focus on the brand’s purpose.

“This is exactly the kind of project that we started our company to do,” says Christian Erickson, founding partner at Zeus Jones. He told me the agency – for the first time – involved all 30 of its employees in the process to develop ideas.

“Betty Crocker set an aspirational view of family from her very beginnings. We were really inspired by that history,” Erickson says. “Within all kinds of family structures today there are aspirational elements. So we set out to have Betty Crocker participate in this national conversation about what a family is today, who the homemaker is, and to develop something that took an optimistic view of how families are being reinvented every day.”

The Families Project developed a list of five traits that are critical to happiness in modern families:

  • Love
  • Communication
  • Working Together
  • Playing Together
  • Support Systems

You can read more about those components in the “Home – The State of Family in America” report at BettyCrocker.com/FamiliesProject.


Would you like to share your perspective on family life in America today?

Scroll to the “Join The Families Project” section of the campaign’s site and answer these three questions:

-What makes you proud of your family?

-What is the biggest struggle your family faces?

-How do you work together to make a home?

Your answers could be featured in the responses posted on the site.