K-C's 'Brick Baby' Ads Can Stay On the Air

Judge Denies Motion by P&G to Block Huggies Spot

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BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- Kimberly-Clark Corp. can keep tossing bricks at Pampers, at least for now, as a federal judge late yesterday denied a motion by Procter & Gamble Co. to stop ads for the rival Huggies brand.
Huggies Brick Baby

A judge ruled that K-C's spot for Huggies can stay on the air.

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"We believe the humorous approach to support our Huggies brand was appropriate," a Kimberly-Clark spokesman said, adding that the ads accurately represent the benefits of the diaper.

False-advertising charges
P&G disagrees, and filed a false advertising suit Oct. 2 in an effort to end the "Brick Baby" ads from WPP Group's JWT, New York, one of which shows two moms -- one with a toddler, the other with a brick -- at a playground. The ad then shows a woman putting a brick on an unnamed purple diaper that resembles Pampers, as a voice-over says: "New Huggies Natural Fit are shaped for babies of the human variety."

P&G in its complaint said the ads began last month, similar to ads Huggies stopped running following a May ruling by the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus advising K-C to modify claims. The NAD said the claims weren't adequately supported.

P&G in a statement said it was disappointed with the court's denial of the restraining order. "We don't think K-C's advertising is fair or accurate or serves consumers well," P&G said. "We're reviewing all our options, so we can't comment further."

The court's decision was based on finding "there is a clear and real difference between the two products in question, secondly that [the advertising] was an accurate depiction of the differences between the two products and that the ad itself was clever and humorous and effective at getting that point across," said Deb Bauer, marketing director for Huggies.

Key difference
The key difference between the products is the shape of the outside or "chassis" of the diapers, Ms. Bauer said. "We do think that makes a fundamental difference in the fit and feel around the baby's legs to not have that additional material between the legs."

The "Brick Baby" advertising that broke last month was entirely new, she said, contrary to the allegation in P&G's court filings that it was essentially the same as advertising the NAD said should be modified. Huggies also has improved the product since the May NAD decision.

K-C did end the original ads subject to the NAD ruling when they "ran their course" at the end of May, Ms. Bauer said. And the company also pulled back on trade promotions because of problems keeping retailers supplied with a Natural Fit product that had proved popular, she said.

Now, she said, Kimberly-Clark has resolved the supply issues so it can run the new advertising and resume trade promotions, which should address the recent share losses.
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