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.

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