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The Father Factor:
Fatherhood Matters

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PBS Parents Engages in More “Dads and Clueless” Stereotyping

One of the reasons NFI gives out the Fatherhood Award™ to worthy individuals and corporations is because we believe that “lighting a candle” is often more effective than “cursing the darkness.” However, from time to time, we feel it is necessary to curse some darkness, as we did about a Huggies advertising campaign in March.

Pampers Gets Pops

Last month at Pampers Cincinnati, OH headquarters, NFI president Roland C. Warren presented the big baby care brand with a Fatherhood Award™ for its “A Parent is Born,” “Welcome to Parenthood,” and “Love Comes Early” video series.

The Huggies Conversation Continues...

As regular readers of The Father Factor know, NFI recently played a key part in a firestorm of social media commentary that led Huggies to respond to the complaints of dads and modify an ad campaign to portray dads more positively.  (If you missed it, check out our blog post rebuking Huggies for their original campaign and the second blog post applauding them for listening to the feedback of dads.)

So Easy, Even a Dad Can Do It

I have to take a deep breath when I write blog posts like this.

While more and more advertisers are starting to realize that dads are competent parents that make or share in family purchasing decisions, there are still far too many stragglers that continue to play the “dads are dumb” line over and over again.

Huggies, the huge diaper brand, is one of the worst offenders. Their most recent ad campaign may take the cake for advertising that is condescending to dads and out of touch with reality. Watch the ad here.

The imagery in the ad is great – dads taking care of their babies. We need to see more of that. But it’s the voice over and premise of the ad where the problem is: “To prove Huggies diapers can handle anything, we put them to the ultimate test: dads… alone with their babies….”

What this reminds me of are the Geico commercials with the caveman. Remember those: “So easy a caveman can do it.” These Huggies ads send the same message: our diapers are so easy to use that even a dad can’t mess this up.

Congrats, dads! You are in the same camp as cavemen! The problem of course is that cavemen don’t exist anymore, but dads do!

Compare the Huggies ads to ones where products have to pass the “mom test” and you will find that those are handled in the opposite way. To pass the mom test, a product has to prove that it lives up to the high standards that moms demand. Like the old Kix cereal commerial, whose tagline was, “Kid tested, mom approved.” But the Huggies ads take the opposite tack; the product has to be tested by dads so that it survives the low standards that dads set.

If you are not yet convinced that these ads send a terrible message about fatherhood, or that these ads are harmless and mean to be “funny,” think of it another way. There is a stereotype out there that women are worse drivers than men. So imagine a car commercial that says, “We are putting our new car to the ultimate test – giving it to a woman for 5 days to see if it survives!” The outcry would be justifiably enormous…

I have to wonder who in the heck Huggies is testing these messages on or what research they are looking at that shows that these sorts of insulting messages to dads are still acceptable. The reality is that dads are changing diapers, caring for babies, and being involved dads. And where they are not, we need to be encouraging them to do so because it is what kids and families need.

Huggies’ ad plays to old stereotypes and ultimately discourages involved fatherhood by playing up the idea that dads just aren’t as good at parenting as moms are. At a minimum, I imagine this ad is discouraging dads from buying Huggies – there appears to be quite an uproar about it online.

What do you think of the commercial? Click here to view it and make a statement. If Huggies is in fact committing a “violation” here, they need to hear from you so that things can change for the better.

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