This week Huggies unleashed its new dad-centric “Ultimate Dad Test” commercials, and they’ve ignited another mini-firestorm.
First of all, Huggies, I want to say what you got right here. Like in this video (sorry, can’t embed Facebook videos).
The dads in the commercials look like real dads, and are actually displaying a level of competence and general daddy-baby affection that is, frankly, rarely seen. The image of these guys with their content, sleeping, well-fed babies is really nice. So good job on that. I don’t know who these guys are, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they are all actual dads with their babies. Nice. Yeah, five guys with five babies is going to be a chaotic scene at times too, which we see, and kudos for showing what parenting really looks like: controlled chaos. On first viewing the two videos you have posted both seem pretty good. Cute, even.
So no, the problem isn’t in what you have the dads doing or how they are parenting, it’s in the whole concept of the campaign.
Why is DAD doing it the “Ultimate Test” of a diaper? What does the gender of the parent have to do with how well a baby with a full tummy is able to survive nap-time leak free?
Check this one out.
[voiceover] “To prove Huggies diapers and wipes can handle anything, we put them to the toughest test imaginable: Dads, alone with their babies, in one house, for five days, while we gave moms some well deserved time off. How did Huggies products hold up to daddyhood?
The world is about to find out . . .”
Oh no! Those poor babies! Alone with dad for five days!? Someone call child protective services! Thank God they have HUGGIES or this could be a REAL disaster!
And don’t even get me started on the version where the concept means babies being cared for by dads too distracted by the “big game” to change their overflowing diaper.
Yes, to the good people at Huggies, there is no better way to demonstrate how tough and leak-proof their diapers are than to subject them to the “Ultimate Test” of being used by (DUN-DUN DUUUUUUUUN) a DAD.
But where things get particularly ridiculous about this campaign is actually on the Huggies official Facebook page, where this currently greets you:
“Dads push diapers and wipes to the limit. Help us prove that Huggies diapers can stop leaks better, and that our wipes can clean messes better, by putting them to the ultimate test . . . Dad.”
So, you mean like, how dads tend to roll around on the floor having a little rougher horseplay with their kids than a lot of moms? So, like, the diapers stay on better? I guess that’s–
“Nominate a Dad > Hand him some diapers & wipes and watch the fun > Tell us how it went on Facebook!”
Oh. No. You don’t mean that at all, do you?
You actually mean that dads are so bad at this that only the roughest, toughest, longest-lasting, leak-proof diapers could possibly withstand such manhandling.
“Nominate a Dad” for what? As a great dad who defies your stereotype? No, that can’ t be it. You’re looking for people to nominate a dad, then put him on diaper duty, watch with glee at the “fun” he has screwing it up, and post on Facebook about how hilarious it was.
Predictably, people have been complaining about this ad campaign, and Huggies has definitely noticed. After all, they posted this wonderful response:
We appreciate the discussion about our commercials, and wanted to give you a little background. Huggies recruited real Dads and their real babies to put our diapers and wipes to the test. Why? Because we love Dads. Many of us are Dads! And like Moms, we change diapers, wipe messes and are hands-on participants in raising kids. Yes, we could’ve done the Mom Test. But for the first time, we felt that Dads deserved to be celebrated just as much.
Oh, I see, you “love Dads” and want to “celebrate” dads so very much that you felt the best way to do that was to promote how well your diapers stand up to being used by such incompetent idiots.
I believe it was Pulitzer Prize and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Maya Angelou who said (and I may be paraphrasing): “Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.”
Predictably, there is no lack of people saying that dads like me who see this whole thing as incredibly insulting are overreacting. That we need to lighten up, get a sense of humor, realize it’s “only a commercial,” etc.
Perhaps. There are far bigger issues in the world right now, true.
But the equal truth is that it wasn’t until people started complaining about unfair gender stereotypes that ads like this disappeared:
Can you imagine a car insurance company advertising in the 21st century that they’ve got you covered when your wife inevitably wrecks the car? Or advertising for office supplies that focus on being easy enough for even a woman to use?
I’m not putting it past some Madison Avenue idiot to think either or both of the above would be hilarious and actually put them out there. But the reactions would be swift and harsh and “get a sense of humor, ladies” would be an entirely inappropriate way to react to those offended.
Huggies, it’s not too late. Admit you screwed this one up and change the campaign. You’ve got great footage of great dads being great dads. Use it. Just stop acting like the fact that they’re dads means anything about how well your product works.
These ads tell us nothing about your product, but they tell us plenty about the people who sell them.