So remember that obnoxious Huggies ad, the one that asks whether the diapers could survive the “dad test” whatever that meant? Whatever meaning, of course, that dads aren’t up to the challenge of changing diapers and are basically just morons with sperm and no parenting skills whatsoever.
Well … some good news.
After an uproar from fathers, led by the amazing Jim Higley over at Bobblehead Dad and some more dads online, the company behind Huggies, Kimberly-Clark, announced it would shelve the ad and try not to portray dads as knuckle-dragging morons in the future. (You can take a look at the exact statement here, because I don’t think they actually used the term knuckle-dragging morons.)
But this is larger than one ad and one campaign to stop it.
So kudos to Huggies for listening, but mostly, kudos to dads for test-driving that newfound power that comes with becoming an online powerhouse.
I just attended the Dad 2.0 Summit in Austin (more on that tomorrow) and was impressed with how many dads came to join the blogging community and to interact with brands on how dads can take part in the web 2.0 movement in the future.
I think this case goes to show that it would be wise to work with dads before these ads come out — focus group them among dad bloggers, for instance — so that the brands don’t have to issue mea culpas, dads don’t have to work so hard to shelve stupidity and, mostly — and most importantly — dads can be portrayed in media as the rock star child care providers, Band-Aid appliers, snack makers, house cleaners, carpool drivers, team coaches, etc etc etc that they actually are.
It’s really not that hard, marketers. You probably don’t even need a focus group. This ad — and the campaign surrounding it — makes pretty clear that the old trope about dads as inept child care providers is not only tired and old but also bad for business. Who the heck do you think makes late-night runs to Target or Wal-Mart for diapers, after all?
But it’s not just about one shopping trip or one product. I still do all the household shopping, and I can’t imagine I’m alone in that. Or, at the very least, if dads aren’t doing all the shopping, they’re at least doing some. It’s heartening to know brands are getting the idea of this, because hopefully that will change the way dads are portrayed in popular media and, possibly, make that random dude out there who is maybe struggling with a new role think that it’s perfectly fine and acceptable and downright freaking lovely to be more involved with his family. We need to celebrate more of that type of dad and less of the inept type of dad, and I’m pleased and hopeful this campaign and the response it created might signal we’re on that road. We’ll see….