After a week of harsh criticism, Huggies makes changes to its ad campaign, so are the voices of dads finally being heard?
Huggies found out the hard way that dads are quite good at changing diapers and no longer afraid to admit it.
In an ad campaign that was supposed to “celebrate fatherhood,” Huggies ran commercials saying “To prove Huggies diapers and wipes can stand up to anything, we put them to the toughest test imaginable: Dads, alone with their babies…”
This unleashed a firestorm of criticism on their Facebook wall from moms and dads. Blogs from the Good Men Project by me and Jim Higley blasted Huggies for treating dads as inept parents and were quoted extensively throughout the blogosphere. An online petition started by DaddyDoctrines blogger Chris Routly quickly gained over 1,200 signatures. CNN Headline News invited me on to explain how Huggies did not accurately portray fathers of today.
Then, last Thursday, Erik Seidel, VP of Huggies Brand, issued a statement on Huggies Facebook page that said in part, “I recognize that we need to do a better job of communicating the campaign’s message…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.”
By Friday, Huggies had changed their campaign from “Put our diapers to the ultimate test: Dad” to say “Have a Dad put Huggies to the test.”
Diapers are now the test, not the dads.
It would seem this would be the end of the controversy. It isn’t. Many now have begun to criticize those of us who demanded Huggies change their ad campaign. Moms, such as one who commented on Huggies’s Facebook wall, wrote “it shows a majority of dads basically… so why pull it over some whiny men.” Dads, such as one who commented on my blog last week, wrote “Time to grow up fellas. Like you all I believe I’m good at being a stay at home (dad). Because of that belief why would I give a crap about a diaper ad?”
After all the commentary, it seems there are still a lot of people who don’t understand why it was so important for dads to stand up and so significant that Huggies finally listened.
For decades, dads have been ridiculed for their lack of parenting skills. It is something so ingrained in our culture that Huggies didn’t even consider it as being offensive.
Dads, however, have begun to change, and, I believe, are engaged in a “Fatherhood Revolution.”
From 2005 to 2010 the number of fathers who are primary caregivers jumped from 26% to 32%. A 2010 study by the Boston College Center for Work and Family found that fathers “were deeply committed to care-giving and sharing the work as evenly as possible with their spouses.”
Moms who claim the Huggies ad showed the “majority of dads” are wrong. And they are not “whiny men.” They are dads who are great parents and love being involved fathers but are tired of people assuming they are not capable of being good caregivers. In fact, because of these “whiny men,” most men’s restrooms now have baby changing stations in them. Maybe, if people stopped laughing at dads, they’d use these changing stations more often.
A lot of dads didn’t find the merit in speaking out against Huggies either. They say they are already great dads and don’t need a commercial to tell them.
It is true, I do not need validation from Huggies to feel like I am a great dad. I also don’t need Huggies, or anyone else, assuming I can’t diaper my own baby. It’s insulting. But, more importantly, perpetuating the stereotype of dads as inept, makes dads think they are supposed to be inept. It allows dads to hide behind their masculinity instead of become the fathers their children need them to be.
I don’t expect a diaper company to fix all of this. I do, however, expect a diaper company to stop assuming dads can’t diaper their own babies.
They can. They do. And they are no longer willing to be silent when others suggest they shouldn’t.