As you may have caught on Facebook lately, Huggies is in hot water with Dads.
The issue: the Kimberly-Clark diaper brand's male-targeted social marketing campaign featuring real dads and real babies, which aimed for the funny bone but landed in the solar plexus. "To prove that Huggies diapers and wipes can handle anything, we put them to the toughest test imaginable – Dads," intoned a female voice-over in the videos ("Dad Test" and "Easy Chair").
Befuddled dads may have seemed like a cute way to make their point, but it (inevitably) irked parents. Consider that dads are increasingly stay-at-home caregivers, one out of three according to the US Census, it was no surprise that many of them took umbrage and took to social media to be heard.
Sparking news reports such as the one above, the Huggies' Facebook wall also quickly filled with complaints, while a Change.org petition titled "We're Dads, Huggies. Not Dummies" was posted by Chris Routly, a dad from Breiningsville, PA. Other petitions have surfaced on Change.org asking Huggies to reconsider their ad campaign: Huggies New “DAD” Campaign Casts Dads in Old, Negative Stereotypes and Huggies Offensive to Dads.
Daddy bloggers have also been up in arms. On The Good Men Project, Al Watts wrote,
Huggies believes the campaign will “celebrate fatherhood.” The truth is they are ridiculing fatherhood…To find out if dads will make it for 5 days alone with their babies is NOT a way to “celebrate fatherhood.” Most dads don’t struggle with infant care today and, in fact, 32% of dads are the primary caregiver…Clearly most dads know what a diaper is and how to use it. Celebrating fatherhood would be showing how dads parent well, not wondering if they would survive without their wives. The only thing dads need to be saved from is ad campaigns like this.
The Blogger and a Father is fed up with the poopstorm:
“A couple of weeks ago, I found out about the Huggies ad that has since created a giant backlash and a possible PR nightmare for Huggies. Before the backlash reached its current peak, being mentioned in the Washington Post (as well as on dozens of blogs) and forcing Huggies to apologize on its Facebook page, I left a comment on Huggies' Facebook page. My comment was answered by Huggies, and I moved on. I've been ready to move on ever since, and I'm waiting for the rest of the Internet to do the same.”
It certainly helped that Kimberly Clark's VP of the Huggies Brand, Erik Seidel, took responsibility for the flap, posting a 'mea culpa' on Huggies' Facebook page on March 8th that noted, in part, "We intended to break out of stereotypes by showing that Dads have an opinion on product performance just as much as moms do. That said, we’re learning and listening, and, because of your response, are making changes to ensure that the true spirit of the campaign comes through in the strongest way possible. For instance, we have already replaced our initial TV ad with a new one that more clearly communicates our true intent; and are in the process of revising the wording of our online communications. We appreciate the honest feedback and look forward to the continued discussion on the brand."
But just to be sure, Huggies reps showed up in Austin at SXSW Interactive last week to meet with 200-plus Dad bloggers convening with brand reps at the Dad 2.0 Summit. We assume some hearty Texas grub and a few cold beers helped smooth over any ruffled feathers.