Huggies becomes the first diaper brand to run a Super Bowl ad
Huggies is making a surprise Super Bowl debut—the first diaper brand to appear in the game—crashing the party at a seemingly unlikely time when the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be driving the U.S. birth rate to a record low.
The 30-second spot, which will run in the second quarter of the CBS broadcast on Feb. 7, comes from Accenture’s Droga5, just over a year after the shop won the Kimberly-Clark Corp. baby care business. It will feature babies born that very day, a first for K-C and the broadcast itself.
“This moment will provide Huggies with unprecedented reach and impact as we introduce our new creative platform and brand refresh in the United States,” said Rebecca Dunphey, president of personal care at Kimberly-Clark North America, in a statement. “We’re rolling out the red carpet for game day babies and ensuring parents everywhere know that Huggies is their partner and guide to navigate the unknowns that babyhood presents.”
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.