Diaper Duty

Huggies recently launched an ad campaign urging parents to put their disposable diapers to the ultimate test.  The ad featured five moms whose responsibility of changing diapers was to be handed off to five dads for five days in what was called the “Dad Test”.

One stay-at-home dad, Chris Routly of Allentown, Pa, saw the ad on the television and became so offended that he started a petition on his website, Daddy Doctrines, to have the ad removed from the air.

The controversial ad portrayed the five dads as totally incompetent as they were caring for their children.  Meanwhile, the moms were seen out getting manicures while the dads struggled at home.

Huggies was probably aiming to appeal to those hardworking moms with the commercial—and who purchase 75% of all diapers.  They might have even intended to convert a few dads—who only purchase 5% of all diapers; the remaining 20% being joint purchases.  However, today there is a trend where the number of men who consider themselves heavily or equally involved with caring for their child is increasing.  The US Census claims that one in three dads are their child’s primary caregiver.

Routly was not just offended by this particular Huggies commercial. He claimed, “Another commercial even touts the ability of HUGGIES to remain leak-free when dad is too busy watching televised sports to change a soiled diaper until after the game.  Is that what HUGGIES thinks dads do? We leave our children in overflowing diapers because sports are more important to us? Really?”

Once Routly’s petition on his blog began to gain attention, Change.org—a website which seeks to spark social change with online petitions—contacted him to ask if they could post his petition.  After that his petition gained over 1,000 signatures in a matter of days, and the makers of Huggies gave Routly a personal phone call to apologize and inform him that the ad was going to be removed from the air.

Last week, the ad was replaced with a more sympathetic video of fathers and their children.  Routly was shocked at the speed with which the entire event occurred and was resolved.  He claims he was an “accidental activist”, and the event “had a happy ending quickly”.

Meanwhile, Huggies has learned just how great of a tool social media can be for gaining immediate feedback.  And now they are paying extra attention to all those dads out there in the blogosphere.