Friday, March 09, 2012

An Open Letter to Huggies

I know what you are thinking. Why an open letter to Huggies now? Didn't you miss the boat?

It is true that the controversy caused by the Huggies campaign seems to be on its way to a resolution.

Many dads and moms were offended by the campaign theme of dad as the "ultimate test."

Dad and blogger Chris Routly set up a petition that over a 1,000 people signed. Media attention came. Then came this response on Huggies Facebook page.

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.
And they have changed the wording on the Nominate a Dad page.

So why I am writing a letter to Huggies now? Because it seems to me Huggies is at a crossroads. Is their goal not to offend dads or to actively engage dads as customers.

Looking through the post from Huggies on their web page all most all of them are directed to "mom." They literally begin with things like "Hey Moms."

It is OK to talk directly to moms, especially about certain aspects of pregnancy or your MomInspired Grants. But many of these post could have easily started with "Hey parents." If you want to engage with dads you don't always need to address them correctly, but you cannot address them as "mom."

If it is true, as there first response to the controversy said, that they wanted to "celebrate" fathers then I am guessing they are trying to find ways to include dads. I'm sure they know that dads buying of child related products is increasing not decreasing. And the 1/3 of every at-home parent is a dad.

And this campaign, even though it had dads in it was still marketed to moms. It wasn't speaking to dads it was speaking to moms about dads. In some ways it still is.

It may mean a radical change in corporate culture. It cannot be easy going from a product that was, since inception, targeted to moms and rethink that you need to target both moms and dads now.

So sure, changing your campaign to not offend dads is a first step. But it is up to Huggies now if it is a first step or if it is the conclusion. If they are satisfied with not offending dads or if they want to start marketing to dads as parents as well.

If they want to actually start marketing to dads, they still have a lot of work to do.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Mad Men 2

So yesterday I wrote about Mad Men. The fact that men were fighting for respect and recognition in the home. I pointed out various fronts on which this battle was being waged and focused on the government and the petition to change the way Census counts parenting (you know, including dads as actual parents and not "alternative child care.")

Then Huggies comes along with their latest ad campaign, "the Dad Test" to remind us of another front we must fight. Actual Mad Men. Madison Avenue.

Here is some text from the Huggies campaign, "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."

That is right gentlemen. YOU are the ultimate test of diapers and wipes. We know you would let your child sit in soaking, stinky diapers a lot longer than any woman would. I mean a mom would know when to change a diaper, but your just a man. And men folk don't know how to do those things.

And how do you preform the ultimate test, "Hand him some diapers and wipes and watch the fun."

That's right ladies, not only is your man incompetent, but watching that incompetence provides lots of laughs and fun. I can hardly wait for the TV show that comes out of this campaign, because you know it is coming.

Let me be straight with you ladies. If the father of your children is incompetent and unable to take care of his own kids, well you picked him. But I wouldn't be laughing.

Then Huggies tried to come out and spin it, "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, this was just a celebration of Dads. Oh thanks for clearing that up because I was confused by everything else written for the campaign that says the opposite. I sure feel like an idiot not recognizing that "Hand him some diapers and wipes and watch the fun" was a celebration of dad. And the way almost all your Facebook post begin with "Hey moms." What an idiot I am for not thinking you were thinking of dads as well. I don't know if you realize this, but there is this word you can used to address both moms and dads at the same time, PARENTS.

Congratulations Huggies, your spin may actually be more insulting than the original campaign.

And of corse the other bothersome thing is the vast amount of women on the Huggies Facebook page supporting the campaign. Comments that basically say, "shut up and know your place." I think that sounds familiar.

So Huggies, you blew it. Don't try spinning it again, just admit it.

And next time you want to Celebrate Dads, I know some you can talk to.