Huggies seems to be listening… sorta.

Huggies seems to be listening… sorta.

Progress?

One of the more frustrating aspects of the last few days being this accidental activist has been the feeling of being completely ignored by the people who you are trying to engage.

I understand all of the issues involved, sure. Give us attention and you give our petition more legitimacy. And after the PR nightmare cause by the initial Huggies “background information” on their insulting ad campaign which made this so much worse, I understand not wanting to do that again.

But for a company that has made such a point of declaring how much they love dads and appreciate our equal parenting role, the silence has been rather deafening.

So when this was posted to the official Huggies Facebook page this afternoon it was very welcome:

Hi, I’m Erik* and I am responsible for the Huggies advertising you are seeing. We have read your feedback on our Dad commercials and, as a father of three young children, I recognize that we need to do a better job communicating the campaign’s message. Our singular goal with this campaign was to demonstrate the performance of our products in real life situations because we know real life is what matters most to Moms and Dads. A fact of real life is that dads care for their kids just as much as moms do and in some cases are the only caregivers. We intended to break out of stereotypes by showing that Dads have an opinion on product performance just as much as moms do. That said, 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. For instance, we have already replaced our initial TV ad with a new one that more clearly communicates our true intent; and are in the process of revising the wording of our online communications. We appreciate the honest feedback and look forward to the continued discussion on the brand.

_____
*Erik Seidel, VP Huggies Brand at Kimberly-Clark

This is great news, and I really appreciate they they are finally taking this seriously.

How in the world they went from the above stated goals to the finished product, I cannot imagine. But that their intentions were as stated? Okay, I’m willing to accept that.

That said…

It is over 15 hours later now, and their Facebook page still features the exact same “Nominate a Dad!” promotion on the front page (nominate for exactly what, no one has yet to figure out), and their profile photo is still that strangely smug dad (who weirdly looks to me like he has some sort of crazy hillbilly overbite if you stand back… or is it just me?) and a call to “Put them to the Dad Test!”

How hard is it to swap out your profile photo?

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how serious they are about fixing this. In the meantime, the petition continues.

I really wish I was heading to the Dad 2.0 Summit in Austin this weekend to ask them myself, as they are apparently sending a team to “engage” with the dadbloggers who are attending. Very interested to hear what goes on though.

UPDATE

After posting this, a new version of the “Nominate a Dad” promotion went live:

Better, definitely. At the very least it’s much clearer that the idea is supposed to be dads putting the diapers to the test, rather than the dads themselves being tested.

But there is still a very fundamental problem here, in the whole idea that dads test diapers in any way different than moms, whether better or worse. You want to know how a “seasoned diaper duty pro” dad changes diapers? Just like a “seasoned diaper duty pro” mom.

If this was an actual science experiment, that it was being done by dads is still the most important variable. The big question laid out to Huggies — why and how are dads a test? — remains unanswered.

2 Comments


  • Chris, My name is Mary Macdonald and I live in Bloomfield Ontario. I listened to your interview on Q. Great job! Please read my response which I posted to Q on their fb page and to their comments sections on their website,the last few lines especially!

    Nice work, man!!

    It is interesting that you did not even list the name of your “stay-at-home father” on the line up list of guests. Stay-at-home parents are not afforded much status but perhaps it was because Chris Routly is just an anonymous blogger that he was not properly introduced?
    Chris Routly criticizes the offensive nature of television images of fathers as bumblers, at best, and disengaged, at worst, and Bambury seemed to fully grasp Routly’s astute critique.
    The clip of Terry O’Reilly explaining the rationale behind the “woman-as-expert” concept in advertising was excellent in illuminating an idiocy of mass advertising campaigns and marketing in general. The idea of discussions between intimates about our incompetencies as mothers and fathers gets taken up by companies whose job it is to insinuate their products into our lives; The perspective explored on a personal, nuanced level becomes ammunition in the company arsenal. The idea that ads are reinforcing the empowerment of women by assigning them expertise is not a new one but merely a re-fashioning of the old gender roles. O’Reilly and his ilk are appealing to a low common denominator, the knee jerk unthinkingness that pits “us” against “them” and sees no fault in belittling one group in order to elevate the other, to curry favour and brand loyalty. The problem with this approach in the instance of parenting, as Routly pointed out, is that thinking women do not like seeing men belittled any more than we like to see ourselves imprisoned by gender. Nor do we like the implications underlying the distracted father who is more engaged with sports than his own baby: that there are much more important things for men to do than raise children. This is implicit in the ad campaigns with bumbling men. It is not only that society gives men permission to foist this seemingly unimportant job onto women but the same style campaigns are used to sell cleaning products and other icons of the domestic sphere, further complicating the value of women in relation to domestic tasks. O’Reilly can assert that women are the depicted experts when it comes to raising children, a very complex and vital undertaking for the future functionality of society, yet the same tone is used for completing the simple, mundane chores of domesticity. One sees these style campaigns all over television from appliances to home decorating and so on (ad nauseum, haha).
    I wholly applaud Routly’s campaign and am interested to hear that Kimberly Clarke has set up a round table discussion with Routly and others concerned about the social construction of fathers and, by extension, mothers and parenting, and further, gender construction. I suspect Kimberly Clarke has a full understanding of the psychological underpinnings to advertising and although one may accuse me of taking my argument a bit far in regards to gender, I think we can see how multi-million dollar companies benefit from expertise in customers’ psychological make up and motivations. However, it seems that the only widely available forum for the presentation of important sociological concepts is taking place within the sphere of consumer culture and I find it disquieting. I hope (and suspect) that Routly will sit at the table (as it were) with his eyes open.
    Thank you to Q for bringing this issue to light. It gives me hope that there are other thinking individuals in my world and that I still have a place where I hear my concerns and thoughts expressed, other than at home with my family, in front of my television, preaching to the choir.
    Yours very sincerely,
    Peace
    Mary Macdonald

    Reply

  • Hi Chris,
    I read about your challenge to the Huggies campaign in the National Post in an article by Seth Stevenson. I have 4 children from 20-28 and although I have never been a stay-at-home parent, when the children were small we both worked part-time so that we both were with the children. I can so identify with your frustration. In the early eighties the Berenstein Bears books were popular. I refused to read the books because the Dad was portrayed as somewhat dim-witted, socially-inept, insensitive and hopelessly clumsy family member who everyone tries to love despite his shortcomings.
    Good luck,
    Frank

    Reply

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