The latest ad campaign from Huggies gets put to the test by dads who refuse to be labeled as inept parents.
Huggies believes the campaign will “celebrate fatherhood.” The truth is they are ridiculing fatherhood.
On their Facebook page, Huggies asks consumers (moms presumably) to “Nominate a dad. Hand him some (Huggies) diapers & wipes and watch the fun. Tell us how it went on Facebook!”
“Watch the fun.”
You’re kidding me! This phrase is loaded with stereotypical assumptions that dads don’t know how or when to change diapers. It seems to me they’re hoping for comments like “Huggies diapers are so good, even dad can use them.”
Along with their Facebook campaign, Huggies has a series of TV ads. The first ad I saw was a teaser announcing the campaign saying “To prove Huggies diapers and wipes can handle anything, we put them to the toughest test imaginable: Dads, alone with their babies, in one house, for 5 days while we gave moms some well-deserved time off. How did Huggies products hold up to daddyhood? The world is about to find out.”
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. Also, Time Magazine, in article last year titled “Chore Wars,” found that dads are nearing equality to moms in time spent with their children. 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 second ad I saw had five dads feeding and then rocking their babies to sleep. It was a very sweet ad that showed dads can lovingly and competently care for their babies.
Unfortunately, I wished I had the sound off. The voice-over softly explained, “To prove Huggies diapers can handle anything, we put them to the ultimate test: Dads, alone with their babies, at naptime, after a very full feeding. Can the leaks stay locked through a long, milk-induced slumber? Grab a dad and see for yourself how, compared to Pampers Baby Dry, all new Huggies Snug & Dry stops leaks better.”
It is not an ultimate test to leave dads alone with their babies. Shocker alert: most dads CAN handle their babies alone, at naptime or any other time. Suggesting otherwise is ill-informed at best and offensive at worst.
In a response to mounting criticism, Huggies replied “For our recent ads, Huggies recruited real Dads and their babies to put our diapers and wipes to the test in real life scenarios. …we wanted to celebrate fatherhood and all the fun – and challenges — that go with it.”
It’s a weak response that is completely disconnected from the concerns raised. Many have angrily blasted Huggies for making it seem like dads might not be able to take care of their babies alone. Somehow Huggies has missed how their ad campaign is so poorly worded.
Let me explain. In order for Huggies to say it is the “toughest test imaginable: Dads, alone with their babies” the underlying assumption is that dads can’t do well alone with their babies; that only with Huggies, can moms feel good about leaving dad alone with their babies.
This is not how to “celebrate fatherhood.” This is how you tell dads they aren’t competent parents. This is how you perpetuate the stereotype that dads are screw-ups and moms, or leak-proof diapers, need to save them.
The only thing dads need to be saved from is ad campaigns like this.
Several petitions have been started on Change.org asking Huggies to reconsider their ad campaign: Huggies New “DAD” Campaign Casts Dads in Old, Negative Stereotypes, We’re Dads, Huggies. Not Dummies, and Huggies Offensive to Dads.