The Super Bowl seems an unlikely place for a diaper, particularly now, for a couple reasons.
First, it’s the broadest audience advertisers can find for a category where targeting is particularly easy by focusing on search around pregnancy and baby care issues, or ads within similar media content.
Second, U.S. birth rates have been in decline since the Great Recession, and the pandemic has only made things worse, likely causing between 300,000 and 500,000 fewer births, according to a recent study by the Brookings Institution. That comes for a variety of reasons, including increased unemployment, less availability of day care, and simply less sex, according to various studies.
That said, January has seen a sharp uptick in searches on “pregnancy” and “Clearblue” (a popular home pregnancy test brand), according to Google Trends. And while parents of newborns are the primary buyers and decision makers for diapers and other baby products, a lot of diapers also are bought as baby shower gifts by others, or by grandparents after birth, so the audience is a bit broader than it looks at first glance.
While rival Procter & Gamble Co.'s diaper brands have struggled in the U.S. of late, more with Luvs brand than Pampers, Huggies has been on a roll. IRI data from EvercoreISI shows Huggies diaper sales up 4% and overall baby care sales up 5% each of the past two quarters. Kimberly-Clark stock surged almost 5% in morning trading today on stronger-than-expected 5% organic sales growth for the fourth quarter—double what analysts were expecting—driven in part by baby care.
Huggies will be giving away 25,000 “Welcome to the World” newborn starter kits including Huggies baby-care products and a Huggies-branded bodysuit from Carter’s, and a branded tote bag, as part of the marketing program, starting Feb. 7. WPP’s Mindshare and Interpublic’s Weber Shandwick are also part of the marketing effort.