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.
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,