Rebel Creative Marketing Concepts

Huggies PR Crisis: How to Do Damage Control with Daddies

By Courtney |

This Albany marketing firm would love to be a fly on the wall at Huggies, the diaper powerhouse owned by Kimberly-Clark Corp., the past week!  After the company launched a campaign that inadvertently implied that Dad’s weren’t good at changing diapers/taking care of their babies, they had quite the backlash to deal with!

You would think in this day and age that gender stereotypes would be an area to tread carefully in the advertising world, especially for a huge brand like Huggies.  The debacle started last week when Huggies posted a video on their Facebook page for its “Dad Test” campaign.  The overall gist of the campaign centers around the strength of a diaper after a baby’s been alone with their Dad for five days (with no help from Mom).  “To prove that Huggies diapers and wipes can handle anything,” the female voice-over explains in the Huggies video, “we put them to the toughest test imaginable: Dads.”  To add further insult to injury, one of the ads shows fathers so involved watching sports on TV that they appear to ignore their babies’ overflowing diapers. The brand’s Facebook page encouraged  Moms to “Nominate a Dad…Hand him some diapers & wipes and watch the fun…Tell us how it went on Facebook!”

Oh boy!  So, Huggies…what you’re telling me is that Dads aren’t very good at taking care of their babies when Mom isn’t around to help?  For a whole five days!? EPIC FAIL!

(Side note: one of the less offensive Huggies videos can be viewed here as it wasn’t pulled from the Huggies Facebook page).

The backlash started almost immediately as soon as the campaign went live.  Parents, especially Dads, weren’t amused at being painted as a dimwit. How did the angry Dads react to being the butt of the joke?  The Huggies Facebook page exploded in a storm of negative comments, Dad bloggers spoke out and even a Change.org petition was launched proclaiming “We’re Dads, Huggies. Not Dummies!”

As things went spiraling out of control, Huggies took to Facebook and posted the following update:

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.”

Their timing for the launch of the campaign couldn’t have been worse as the first ever Dad 2.0 Summit, a conference for Dad bloggers, was being held March 8-10th in Texas.  How did Huggies handle all of their toughest critics in one place for a whole weekend?  They were smart enough to rush a Huggies rep down to Austin to apologize, repeatedly, to the 200-plus Dad bloggers gathered at the convention.

Our suggestion to Huggies in the future?  Don’t offend 50% of the demographic that is most likely helping to finance the purchase of all those diapers!

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One Comment

  1. Posted March 16, 2012 at 2:58 PM | Permalink

    Heh, My kids got their first diaper change from their dad and they both survived … so far.

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