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Why Huggies’ Backlash Is A Bookmark In Dad-Bashing Advertising

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

15 months.

As predicted by the entire world and any possible life forms living on Earth’s moon, Huggies finally started pulling their “Ultimate Test: Dad” ads after a huge backlash in the sub-universe of social media last week. Today I read a blog article on HuffingtonPost.com by Lisa Belkin, who interviewed Aric Melzl; the brand director for Huggies.

The post ends with this Shark Tank type of warm wisdom from Melzl:

“Huggies is reponding to unhappy men, because those men have the ear of women. All of this, the initial campaign, the full-on response, is targeted at moms… I don’t want there to be any question about who we we’re going after.’”

Even though dads now make up 1/3 of stay at home parents, that doesn’t necessarily equate to men buying at least 33% of the diapers. According to the article, we’re worth about 5% in terms of actually buying them.

As in my case, I don’t buy the diapers because I’m waiting in the car with our son, who is taking his Sunday afternoon nap, while my wife is inside Publix or Harris Teeter doing the shopping.

Okay, I get it; I am commercially worth 5% as a parent.

To be fair, though, Huggies is simply the untimely scapegoat at the crossroads of “Surprise! Dads are more active now than ever in their kids’ lives” and “social media will not let you get away with that kind of stuff anymore…”. Plenty (!) of other companies have been recently dissing husbands and dads in their ads; they just might have been a bit more subtle.

In fact, in my post last week about this whole fiasco, I featured a video clip montage of several recent ads making dads out to be the classic idiot father; including brands such as Lysol, Hasbro, Cheerios, Benadryl, Febreeze, Naturemade, Stanley Steamer, Glade Sense and Spray, Uno Attack, Walmart, Orville Rendenbacher’s, Ortho, and Yellowbook.

Here’s my prophecy on this: Huggies’ faux pas will serve as a bookmark and a warning to any other advertising companies who dare to reach the mom market by poking fun at the dads, even if in the slightest and most innocent of ways.

This event has marked the beginning of the end of “dad jabs” in advertising.

Let’s face it: There’s now officially an army of daddy bloggers ready to out the next unsuspecting dad-basher. But on the flip side, we’re also always on the look-out for paternal praise from advertisers.

I wonder if the blessing of the salvation of positive dad ads is equal to the damnation of the curse of dad-jab ads?

Even if we dads never end up buying the proper percentage of a product to be marketable, we still have the power (via daddy blogging, Twitter, etc.) to take away from a company’s “cool factor.”

Considering how eager businesses are to get people to “like” them on Facebook, it’s pretty clear in this economy, and in this age of social media relevance, that being cool matters more than ever before.

So, apology accepted… I guess?

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