Is Huggies’ “Ultimate Test: Dad” Ad Degrading to Fathers?
At this point in American society, it is basically becoming taboo to stereotype dads and husbands as half-witted goons, as was accepted in recent decades. It used to be that advertisers could target stay-at-home moms by making a caricature of their husbands. But now that dads make up 33% of stay-at-home parents, that model is essentially invalid.
The video clip above very humorously shows several examples of commercials where this sexist approach has still been recently used by Lysol, Hasbro, Cheerios, Benadryl, Febreeze, Naturemade, Stanley Steamer, Glade Sense and Spray, Uno Attack, Walmart, Orville Rendenbacher’s, Ortho, and Yellowbook.
“Doofy Husbands: Target Women” by Sarah Haskins also cleverly points out examples of commercials targeted to men; featuring cool, good-looking guys: Infiniti, Nivea, Heineken, and Miller Lite. Of course, in these advertisements the men are assumed to be single; whereas in the ones where men are goof balls, they are clearly married.
Basically, once you marry the man, it’s like watching the opposite of the evolution of man.
Two weeks ago, I published an article called Fathers Are 1/3 of Stay-At-Home Parents, But Still Pay The “Dad Tax” where I featured the “dad ads” of the March 2012 issue of Parents magazine. One of those ads was Huggies’ “Ultimate Test: Dad”.
At the time, I subconsciously thought for a half-second: “Wait, it almost sounds like they are making fun of dads; implying that dads are bumbling idiots who barely know how to change a diaper- one of the very ideas that I passionately denounce here on The Dadabase.”
But then I stopped myself with this rebuttal: “No, by putting dads to the ultimate test they mean that dads are tough on messes, like Mr. Clean. Yeah, that’s it… sure.”
So I moved forward with promoting it as a legitimate dad ad; because ultimately, a sponsor was making a point to acknowledge the involvement of dads regarding their product and I recognized (and still recognize) the importance of that.
Now here we are, living two weeks into the future, and a full-time stay-at-home Superdad named Chris Routly has gotten over 1,000 people (as of this minute) to sign a petition against the ad:
“Please, join me in asking them to drop the ‘Ultimate Test: Dad’ element entirely, and instead focus on actually celebrating the wonderfully active dads who use HUGGIES every day with the same competence and care as moms.”
I say this Chris Routly fellow is a smart guy and he makes a valid point.
He’s not being dramatic and asking dads, who currently make up 1/3 of stay-at-home parents, to ban Huggies. Instead, he’s asking Huggies to recognize their mistake and redirect their energy on a different ad that undoubtedly celebrates dads instead of questions their parenting abilities based on gender.
Chris Routly puts it this way, in his petition:
“How are dads a test? As a dad, am I simply too dumb to use them properly?
Why is a dad on diaper duty an appropriate or meaningful test of the product in any way a mom using them is not?
Why reduce dads to being little more than test dummy parents, putting diapers and wipes through a ‘worst-case scenario’ crash course of misuse and abuse?”
I think however this all pans out, it will be a valuable (and expensive) lesson to all advertisers from now on:
Don’t insult dads and husbands. We’re 33% of your buying power as stay-at-home parents.