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Huggies Working to Clean Up a Diaper Mess

Posted by Vincent DiCaro

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Mar 13, 2012
In The Godfather: Part II, Michael Corleone says, "I hope they will have the decency to clear my name with the same publicity with which they now have besmirched it."

In the spirit of those wise words, I am blogging today to follow up on a recent post I did about a Huggies ad campaign.

On March 1, I blogged about a dad-unfriendly ad campaign from the diaper giant. In that post, I accused Huggies of playing into stereotypes about fathers being less competent parents than moms, especially when it comes to changing diapers and caring for babies. We asked you, our readers, to let Huggies know what you thought about their ad, and you did, voicing your concerns on Huggies' Facebook page.

At the time, I had no idea my blog post was part of a "movement" of daddy bloggers all over the country saying similar things, and inspiring many others to speak out, too.

There was so much noise being made about this that Headline News contacted me on Saturday to do a live interview on their network about my blog post and about the response from the community of dads. You can watch the HLN interview here.

To add to the providential timing of all of this, I happened to be in Austin, TX over the weekend for a brand new conference called the Dad 2.0 Summit, where the very community that called Huggies out had gathered to talk about strengthening the online community of dads and strategizing on how dads and brands can work together for mutual benefit.

This was a "perfect storm" that may indeed be a watershed moment in the "fatherhood movement" (for lack of a better term). For years, various other communities have coalesced to the point that if a brand "messes with them," they will make a big stink and force that brand to change its tune. Moms, for example, have done a great job of this, and are rightly recognized as a market force to be reckoned with. But this Huggies incident could mark the first time that the community of dads forced a major brand to change its course.

Huggies, to their great credit, did a couple of positive things. First, they pulled one ad in the series off the air immediately. Second, they are working to change the voice overs in the other ads to make them less condescending. Third, they changed the copy on their Facebook page from "put our diapers to the ultimate test... dad" to "Have dad put Huggies to the test." Fourth, Huggies sent several staff, including executives, to the above mentioned Dad 2.0 Summit to sit down with dads one-on-one (myself included) to hear our concerns and explain what they are doing to make amends.

This Huffington Post article summarizes how this whole thing played out.

So, what's next?

Huggies has a great opportunity to really separate itself from the pack by capitalizing on the mistake it made and the subsequent steps they have taken to fix it. Huggies is smack in the middle of the radar screen of the dad community right now, so if they do things right, they can really establish themselves as a brand that cares about and responds to fathers.

We at National Fatherhood Initiative stand ready to afford brands the opportunity to do this in a big, national way.

For you, take a moment to head over to Huggies' Facebook page and thank them for responding to dads' concerns and changing course. Continue to hold them accountable. But don't tell them Michael Corleone told you to do this...

Let's not forget what happened here. We dads were able to accomplish something that every significant social movement has been able to accomplish. Let's keep it up!

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