Kimberly-Clark Corp. felt the wrath of dad-advocates today over new ads for Huggies, but has taken down the offending ad, made its mea culpas and launched efforts to engage dads who felt their diaper-changing skills had been impugned.
Consumerist called attention on Thursday morning to a Huggies "Dad Test" campaign. The concept? Leaving babies alone with their dads for five days was the "ultimate test " of how well diapers would hold up under adverse circumstances.
One blogger at Goodmenproject.com on Monday had noted that this is "NOT a way to 'celebrate fatherhood.' Most dads don't struggle with infant care today and, in fact, 32% of dads are the primary caregiver."
By later today, one group turned to petition site Change.org to launch a campaign against the Huggies effort and its "stereotype of dumb fathers."
Within hours, Kimberly-Clark's consciousness was raised.
"We have heard the feedback from dads concerning our current 'real life' dad commercials," said K-C spokesman Joey Mooring in an e-mail statement. "We recognize that we need to do a better job communicating the campaign's overall message. The 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 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, the Huggies brand is learning and listening, and, because of the responses we have received, are making changes to ensure that the true spirit of the campaign comes through in the strongest way possible.
"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 the Huggies brand online communications."
Besides appreciating the "honest feedback," Mr. Mooring said K-C will send members of the Huggies brand to attend the Dad 2.0 Summit this weekend in Austin, Texas, for a little direct-engagement with the father bloggers in attendance.