An Open Letter to the Supporters of my Huggies Petition

An Open Letter to the Supporters of my Huggies Petition

Dear friends and supporters,

I am incredibly happy to report to you that the people at Huggies/Kimberly-Clark have heard your voices, and are responding in real, impactful ways. You may have already heard this, but I hope to give you a little bit more information.

Before explaining more, I want to thank you so much for all of your support.

Thank you for signing the petition, for sharing it, for posting on Twitter and Facebook and even Pinterest, and for your calls and emails to Huggies/Kimberly-Clark. This could not have happened without people like you, who agreed that simply because this was “just” an ad campaign for diapers, or meant as a “joke,” or because there are bigger issues in the world, didn’t mean that the problem should be ignored.

So, here’s the good news…

Huggies/Kimberly-Clark reached out to me, and today I had the pleasure to talk with several members of their team about our concerns. They have recognized that, despite whatever good intentions they had, their “Dad Test” campaign went wrong. They know that it genuinely insulted many, and communicated quite a different message than the one they intended.

They are already taken steps to make it right, which I will outline below. After our conversation, I can honestly state that — any remaining personal opinions or concerns I have about the wisdom of the core concept of the “Dad Test” itself aside — I do not believe they meant to make a mockery of dads at all.

I asked them to give me a list of steps they are taking, and they provided a list of changes they are implementing to their campaign going forward, because of you.

They state:

1. We have removed the specific ad that started this conversation (Dads watching a game with their babies), and replaced it with another commercial (Dads with their napping babies) that is more consistent with the message we want to convey – which is to show our products being put to the test in honest, real-life moments with babies and dads.

2. Beginning next week, we will begin airing a new TV spot, featuring these real Dads out and about with their babies to test our diapers. We think this commercial, along with the other ads that we’ll be rolling out as part of this campaign, more truly embrace the spirit of the campaign and demonstrate how our diapers hold up in real-life scenarios and show incredibly loving, competent Dads caring for their babies. Please note that we are in the process of revising all of the copy in our TV commercials, but that will take some time to finalize and ship them to television networks. Therefore, you will see some TV spots that still contain the Dad test messaging but please know we’re working hard and fast to revise all these commercials.

3. We’ve also addressed the feedback by changing the copy of our Facebook page. This morning (3/9), we incorporated new messaging and imagery to better reflect the campaign’s message. We’ve also launched an incentive to reward Facebook fans who nominate a Dad.”

4. We’re working with Dads like yourself and others to establish a roundtable discussion in the coming weeks to gain your perspective on other ways we can put our products to the test.

I am particularly happy to read the later details in point #2. They are not simply playing the least objectionable commercials. They are spending significant time and resources to actually change the current ads. I could not ask for a better demonstration of how seriously they are taking this, so please respect the realities they mention; that it will take time for the new ads to replace the old ones already in circulation.

Some may feel that these changes are not enough, that the only way to “fix” this insulting campaign was to pull it entirely. That is their right, and I encourage anyone who feels that way to continue to respectfully communicate that to Huggies/KC. Truthfully, if I felt that their sole purpose was to ridicule fathers as a marketing gimmick and now they are simply backtracking, I would agree. However, as I’ve said, after discussion with them on the issues and problems of this ad campaign, I am of the belief that this is a case where a failure in communication results in the opposite message being sent.

To their credit, although sometimes frustratingly silent in their responses to criticisms posted on places like Facebook, they also never once took the step of silencing us. They let us say our piece, when many companies would delete any similar critical comment.

I am convinced that most of the people behind these ads are real moms and dads like you and I, who truly wish to see involved, active dads lifted up and encouraged, not torn down. They made mistakes. But I believe that they are truly committed to engaging with dads in a respectful way, and I look forward to seeing that continue, and to grow.

So there you have it: victory, and a happy ending to this chapter.

Respectfully and with much appreciation,
Chris Routly

Join the Discussion!
Joel Hough says:

Agree!!!! Keep it up. An END to all commercials that insult the white male. There are a ton of them.

R.G. Morse says:

Hey, just heard you on Canadian Broadcasting Corp. radio. Way to go! This is difficult territory to navigate. I had no idea (relatively old guy that I am) how confused so many young men are out there today, on issues ranging from proper parenting to passion, until a group assembled by one of my sons-in-laws turned to me for sage, experience-based advice. Yikes! I was so taken aback by this, so unprepared for their sincere onslaught of questions, I ended up writing a book (“Man Up In Ten Lessons”). Hey, every bit helps, right?!

Hi,

Great job! I only heard about this yesterday (things are slower to reach us here in Canada). This is exactly the type of lopsidedness people have to stop taking for granted. It’s right up there with “dumb husband” personas which are so popular in sitcoms. Thanks again for not letting them off easy!

Eric R says:

Great job on this matter! I’ve seen too much of this ‘father’ bashing in Courts…never mind T.V.! I am happy with the outcome but I had stopped buying Huggies when I first saw this commercial weeks ago. I’ve actually taken an active role in NOT buying ANY products that depict family life in their commercials without a dad. I should probably take my notes and publish them! Well anyway, great job!

Hey there, awesome job in getting attention on this issues. Fathers catch a lot of flack in the mainstream for a variety of reasons, sometimes unfairly. Here at NFI (National Fatherhood Initiative), we’ve been on the front lines with this issue as well. Check out a recent blog we published regarding this very thing:

http://www.daddydoctrines.com/2012/03/09/an-open-letter-to-the-supporters-of-my-huggies-petition/

Take care!

D.L. Chandler
National Fatherhood Initiative

Mike says:

Good job man! It’s people like you that drive true and meaningful change in this misandrist country of ours. I wish there were 1000 more like you.

Scott says:

Hi, a friend pointed me to your site today, and, I was sad to learn that the petition was closed. I’d have signed it in a second. Reading all of this, though, makes me feel great.

As a father of two wonderful daughters, I’m as involved as my wife, often more. I gave up my career (by choice, not because of a layoff), and was a stay-at-home father with my older daughter for the first two years of her life. I find ads like the Huggies ones to be offensive and destructive to fatherhood.

Thank you for all you’ve done to promote the cause, and thanks go to Huggies/Kimberly-Clark for listening. Hopefully they won’t be the last.

Nice one. Earlier today I wrote a post defending Huggies because I truly believed the offense was unintentional (although I did link to your cartoon as well, to give both sides). Great to see a brand reacting to criticism in a rational and thoughtful way.

Chris says:

Yes, I really do have to give them a lot of credit for the way they’re handling the whole thing.

And I do totally understand that there were plenty of people who legitimately felt like this wasn’t worth getting upset about — whether because they didn’t see the insult at all, figured it was unintentional, or are just so used to this sort of thing that complaining seemed pointless.

I’m glad I did though, for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that I think the changes make this go from being a (IMO) negative portrayal of dads to a purely positive one, which is always welcome.

But beyond that I think Huggies themselves were, if you’ll forgive me, put to the “Dad Test” this week, and I think that how they’ve responded means they passed the test. I am ecstatic to have a company like Huggies so clearly in our corner, so to speak.

Commercials featuring/celebrating involved dads are great. But giant companies who make traditionally “mom-centric” products actually demonstrating how committed they are to listening to dads is even better.