Huggies Diapers stepped in it bigtime recently, by pulling the same stereotyped crap about single dads you get from every sitcom and movie involving single parent fathers. Dads protested, and Huggies pulled the odious ads.
The “Dad Test” campaign, posted on Facebook and geared towards men, was meant to be funny. The idea behind the campaign, according to Huggies, was to prove that Huggies diapers and wipes can handle anything. As the ad’s narrator explains, “We put them to the toughest test imaginable: Dads, along with their babies, in one house, for five days.” They showed hopeless, overwhelmed dads in cliched scenarios (i.e., watching sports, neglecting their babies) as their wives get their nails done and sip tea (how original).
Well, let’s just say that viewers were not amused (and I don’t blame them one bit). They flocked to Facebook with claims they’ll never buy Huggies again, and even created a petition – called “We’re Dads, Huggies. Not Dummies,” at Change. org (so far, around 1300 people have signed it). Huggies quickly responded by apologizing, pulling the ads and replacing them with new ones that show dads sitting in gliders and rocking happy babies in their laps.
So now the ads include confident, capable men, and all it took was a campaign to tell Huggies that the “only mothers are parents” bullshit won’t fly. Yet another way traditional gender roles screw things up for men. I’m earmarking this for some hypothetical future sequel to the Disadvantages of Being a Man post.
Yeah, I’m not terribly amused by this either. This is stuff Huggies should be getting right the first time around. Surely they do product surveys, surely they know that men are often buying their products, and surely they know that many of those men are the primary child caregivers. We men are not sports-watchers and beer-swillers by default; we are not incapable of emotions or imbued with toxic masculinity except where we are molded by the same societal gender roles that do so much damage to women. It is in all of our best interests to disassemble these societally enforced ideas, and a diaper company reinforcing them to be “funny” just shows how difficult a proposition it will be.