A diaper ad that depicted fathers as hapless offended many dads who take care of their children, including routinely changing their diapers.
Huggies recently launched a new campaign called “Have Dad Put Huggies To The Test” that urged parents to put the company's brand of diapers to the "Dad test."
According to the Baltimore Sun, a "television commercial that made dads look like dummies" ticked off many fathers with a stereotype that showed fathers as inept caretakers of their children.
The commercial showed five moms handing off the kids to dads for five days while they went out. The ads highlighted dads as appearing to be incompetent in taking care of the kids and ignoring changing their diapers in favor of other activities, such as watching sports, while the moms were absent.
A marketing campaign backfires
While Huggies intention was to "celebrate fatherhood", many fathers weren't feeling very festive after seeing the commercial. In fact, several were angered when they saw Huggies new ad campaign. Enough dads felt strongly enough about the issue, they decided to take the concern to where else? Social media.
Effectiveness of social media
Chris Routly, of Allentown, Pa., is a stay-at-home dad. He cares for 3-year-old Tucker and 14-month-old Coltrane while his wife, Anna, works in the field of engineering.
"As a dad who stays home every day taking care of my children, I don't see myself in these ads at all," said Routly, reported the Baltimore Sun. "Men and women learn from these sorts of things that no matter how much a dad loves his kid, no matter how much he tries to be involved and get his hands dirty with feedings and diapers and anything else, he can't and won't do it right because he is, after all, just a dad."
Taking to his blog, Daddy Doctrines, Routly criticized Huggies commercials. "Another commercial even touts the ability of HUGGIES to remain leak-free when dad is too busy watching televised sports to change a soiled diaper until after the game," Routly wrote. "Is that what HUGGIES thinks dads do? We leave our children in overflowing diapers because sports is more important to us? Really?"
Routly set up an online petition on his blog “We’re Dads, Huggies. Not Dummies”, and it got enough attention that Change.org reportedly contacted him to see if he was willing to let the website post his petition. Suddenly the issue took notice across social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. The petition received over 1,300 signatures in a short period of time.
As Routly was writing and drawing attention to the issue on social media, others were doing the same, such as Jim Higley, who runs a blog called Bobblehead Dad.
Higley wrote, "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."
Ads are pulled
The power of social media once again shows its effectiveness. Routly received a phone call directly from Kimberly-Clark, the maker of Huggies Diapers. In a call that Routly described as "sincere," the company thanked Routly for his tone and said the company wanted to "do right." The whole situation has been described as "very polite."
ABC News reported the company issued a statement. “We have heard the feedback from dads concerning our current ‘real life’ dad commercials,” said Joey Mooring, spokesperson for Kimberly-Clark and the Huggies brand, in a statement. ”We recognize our intended message did not come through and that we need to do a better job communicating the campaign’s overall message.”
Huggies pulled the original ads showing fathers as bungling caretakers and replaced with a new commercial that depicts fathers as loving and nurturing. Meanwhile, Huggies also issued a public statement about the campaign. On where else? Facebook.
Social media has proven to often be an effective medium to get a message out or share news. Active discussion about the campaign still taking place, including on the Huggies' brand Facebook page with opinions for and against the initial campaign.