Huggies Starts to Wipe Up their Dad Mess

Huggies “Dad Test” campaign set off a heated debate. Jim Higley finds it interesting to have his hand in this whole diaper thing.

A couple of weeks ago, after writing about my disappointment with Huggies new “Dad” campaign, I never would have dreamed that I’d be sitting face-to-face with one of the folks behind the campaign, Joey Mooring, Senior Manager – Global Marketing & Brand Communications for Kimberly-Clark, which owns Huggies.

Welcome to the game changing world of social media.

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My initial reaction to the campaign was simply disappointment to see yet one more depiction of dads as bumbling idiots. That’s all. This wasn’t about world peace. Disease. Or other critically important issues. My negative reaction didn’t place the blame of the greater social perception of dads at the doorstep of Huggies corporate offices either. I was just disappointed. I expected more. I’ve seen more – from other brands. And I just felt, personally, that Huggies missed the mark.

So I wrote about it. As did a number of other dads. And moms. Then the Washington Post. Then Ad Age. And numerous others, I’m sure. Oh yeah, and I started a national petition. And mine wasn’t the only one.

If you were to look at Huggies Facebook page in those first few days, you’d see a firestorm of comments from moms and dads on the topic. I never took a tally, but my sense was that the “I-think-these-ads-suck” sentiment tipped the scale. But there were plenty of other people who felt that everyone was overreacting. Some of the conversations were civil. Some weren’t.

What was really surprising was the lack of commentary from Huggies on their Facebook page. It surprised and disappointed me that they just sat idle.

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Huggies Speaks

Huggies eventually broke their silence last Thursday, however, with the following Facebook comment:

“Hi, I’m Erik and I am responsible for the Huggies advertising you are seeing. We have read your feedback on our Dad commercials and, as a father of three young children, I recognize that we need to do a better job communicating the campaign’s message. Our singular goal with this campaign was to demonstrate the performance of our products in real life situations because we know real life is what matters most to Moms and Dads. A fact of real life is that dads care for their kids just as much as moms do and in some cases are the only caregivers. 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.”

Ironically, when I first read that comment (which, by the way, received over 130 “likes” and over 100 comments) I had just arrived at the inaugural Dad 2.0 Summit – a gathering meant to elevate communication between dad bloggers and brands – in Austin, Texas. A few of us had noticed Erik’s comment and were discussing our optimism for getting the attention of some of the folks behind the diaper debacle and hoped they, in fact, would continue to listen and react.

Within 24 hours, we got our wish. Huggies took advantage of the Dad 2.0 Summit gathering and sent a few of their top personnel to Austin to have one-on-one chats with anyone who cared to share.

And that’s what brought me face-to-face with Joey Mooring and his associate, Aric Melzl – Brand Director for Huggies.

Huggies Listens

I give these guys credit. A lot of it. Sure, they tried to make sure all of the dads present understood that they, in no way, meant for the campaign to portray dads in a negative way. But we all understood that going in. The most important thing Joey and Aric did, however, was listen. And I’m quite sure they walked away with a better understanding of the passion and pride many men have with regards to their roles as dads. In fact, a new survey by the National Fatherhood Initiative (a participant at Dad 2.0 Summit) clearly states that a man’s role as a dad is central to their image and self-worth.

We’re not looking to be canonized. We’re not looking to be put on a pedestal. We’re all in favor of humor – parenting is a pretty funny experience most days. What we are looking for is reality. We’re looking for brands to not rely on old stereotypes when depicting us. And that goes for how they depict women, too. Moms and dads have gotten pretty comfortable in their own skin.

And we appreciate it when brands and society reflect that.

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Joey and Aric have committed that there will be changes in the campaign and apparently, some of those changes have already taken place. I haven’t seen anything, yet. But that’s okay. Candidly, I’m less worried about the details (or the bottom-line reality that women are still the number one focus for Huggies and that dads are minutia when they look at market segment).

That’s fine. We’re talking. We’re all listening. And as any parent knows, that’s a great start.

Originally published on Jim Higley’s blog: Bobblehead Dad

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About Jim Higley

Jim Higley, the Bobblehead Dad, is a writer, speaker, life observer, and cancer warrior. His favorite role, however, is being "Dad" to his three kids. Check out his blog here. He can also be seen as one of the iVoices on iVillage and can be heard on his weekly radio show on fatherhood, Bobblehead Dad. Jim is a regular parenting and health contributor to The Huffington Post. He is the author of Bobblehead Dad: 25 Life Lessons I Forgot I Knew. He was recently named World’s Greatest Dad by Man of the House. His kids are contesting this, however.

Comments

  1. We are looking at a sea change in how our culture views Dads as primary care givers and full time parents. The legal and social systems have yet to catch up to the fact that Dads are parenting full time and fulfilling all the roles a parent needs to fulfill. We’re not part timers. We’re not filling in. We’re it.

  2. hey congrats jim on yours and others success, in getting the ads removed. i tried to sign your petition when you first posted it here, but i had the same i had with other petitions. my firefox scriptblocker would not show the page properly

    anyway congrats

  3. Guys, really?! I just saw the Huggies controversy on the evening news and you have got to be kidding me! Come on and grow up a little bit. Your feelings are hurt because of the ad regarding children and the Dad test? The commercial was hilarious and depicts the majority of men out there. No, I am not saying that your job as a stay at home dad is not appreciated, but please have a thicker skin. The traditional sense of a Dad, is just as it is depicted. Perhaps you should spend more of your time with throwing a ball with your child than worrying about such a “metro-sexual” issue. This is precisely why people in this country are getting soft and expecting more and more entitlements.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] note that I’m not trying to bash on Huggies here, because they showed remorse and humility by showing up to the Dad 2.0 Summit in Texas to take the wrath from all the Dads in attendance. [...]

  2. [...] more on dads and advertising, read Huggies Starts to Wipe Up Their Dads Mess by Jim [...]

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