Thursday, March 1, 2012

So Easy, Even a Dad Can Do It

I have to take a deep breath when I write blog posts like this.

While more and more advertisers are starting to realize that dads are competent parents that make or share in family purchasing decisions, there are still far too many stragglers that continue to play the “dads are dumb” line over and over again.

Huggies, the huge diaper brand, is one of the worst offenders. Their most recent ad campaign may take the cake for advertising that is condescending to dads and out of touch with reality. Watch the ad here.

The imagery in the ad is great – dads taking care of their babies. We need to see more of that. But it’s the voice over and premise of the ad where the problem is: “To prove Huggies diapers can handle anything, we put them to the ultimate test: dads… alone with their babies….”

What this reminds me of are the Geico commercials with the caveman. Remember those: “So easy a caveman can do it.” These Huggies ads send the same message: our diapers are so easy to use that even a dad can’t mess this up.

Congrats, dads! You are in the same camp as cavemen! The problem of course is that cavemen don’t exist anymore, but dads do!

Compare the Huggies ads to ones where products have to pass the “mom test” and you will find that those are handled in the opposite way. To pass the mom test, a product has to prove that it lives up to the high standards that moms demand. Like the old Kix cereal commerial, whose tagline was, “Kid tested, mom approved.” But the Huggies ads take the opposite tack; the product has to be tested by dads so that it survives the low standards that dads set.

If you are not yet convinced that these ads send a terrible message about fatherhood, or that these ads are harmless and mean to be “funny,” think of it another way. There is a stereotype out there that women are worse drivers than men. So imagine a car commercial that says, “We are putting our new car to the ultimate test – giving it to a woman for 5 days to see if it survives!” The outcry would be justifiably enormous…

I have to wonder who in the heck Huggies is testing these messages on or what research they are looking at that shows that these sorts of insulting messages to dads are still acceptable. The reality is that dads are changing diapers, caring for babies, and being involved dads. And where they are not, we need to be encouraging them to do so because it is what kids and families need.

Huggies’ ad plays to old stereotypes and ultimately discourages involved fatherhood by playing up the idea that dads just aren’t as good at parenting as moms are. At a minimum, I imagine this ad is discouraging dads from buying Huggies – there appears to be quite an uproar about it online.

What do you think of the commercial? Click here to view it and make a statement. If Huggies is in fact committing a “violation” here, they need to hear from you so that things can change for the better.


  1. I absolutely don't agree I think your blowing it way out of proportion you hear the ultimate test dads at naptime . I heard with a full feeding right afterward. I think its about time that they start putting dads in there more my husband works and cherishes those naptime moments but it is a rare occasion that this happens I'm glad they are recognizing men.

  2. The question is why dads alone is the ultimate test? Why is being on dads lap more of a test than being on mom's?

  3. Agreed. It is probably more about the worldview of the advertising execs than about making ads that bring in the most $.

    Aaron and Ashley

  4. From their Facebook site promoting the campaign: "Help us prove that Huggies diapers can stop leaks better, and that our wipes can clean messes better, by putting them to the ultimate test...Dad."

    And how do you nominate a dad, "Hand him some dipers and wipes and watch the fun."

  5. I think the commercial was great! While ripping Huggies why not rip the guys that took part in the project? I wonder how many DADS turned it down before the final cut? Huggies recognized DADS in a commercial and that still is not enough. I'm still going to buy Huggies and i'm not going to change how i DADDY because of a commercial....

  6. No commercial should perpetuate a stereotype, especially one that dads are inept around their children. Unfortunately, it's all about ad dollars and what gets the consumer's attention, not truth in parenting. We can only hope that fathers are smarter than how they are portrayed in this commercial. Kudos to NFI.

  7. For those who replied that they don't find the commercial insulting, I'm wondering about their situation - I have been relegated to only be with my kids 2 weekends a month because of an archaic court and sociopathic ex. To let my kids know I care, I have been on the PTO board, classroom volunteer, coach, Girl Scout volunteer, etc., etc., etc.
    I have had so much taken from me but continue to keep my children first.... and I will not buy anything that portrays a father in a negative light (Jif peanut butter happens to be another offender).

    1. add Childrens Tylenol to the list of ads that target 'moms' as opposed to 'parents'

  8. I think it goes much further than a commercial. For too long good fathers have been forced by society to take a back seat when it comes to their own kids. Do you know any school, activity, health, etc., form that list "Dads" name first? When people refer to parents its always -- "your mom and dad". All this may seem trivial,, but its a microcosm of a bigger societal issue.

  9. I agree. I was shocked when I saw the first ad...dads neglecting to change diapers during a football game. I give my husband more credit than that, even though we have yet to have children of our own.
    The second ad...depicted fathers holding the babies during naptime...a very different scenario. I'm hoping this was a way to rectify the bad judgement made on the first I haven't seen the ad with the ballgame-watching neglectful dads since.

  10. This sort of thing is commonplace, sadly. It's portrayed most regularly on prime-time sitcoms where dads are the idiots who can't do anything right and the moms are the ones who have to come to the rescue. It's also even in the most unexpected places. I was walking through a Walmart one day in their grocery department and overheard one of the video monitors. On it, a video showed a man making macaroni and cheese and mixing it with Spam. He called it a "dad-proof recipe." I guess we dads are completely incapable of cooking anything more complex.

  11. Thanks for taking a leadership role in giving father caregivers the respect they deserve. My husband Is the primary caretaker in our household and he does a fantastic job. Now days, having the father play a larger role in household duties is not uncommon. Kudos to you and your efforts.

  12. don't forget all the parenting websites that focus only on mums, including one that recently held a competition for mums to win a book that has a go at dads.
    Oh and i'm the mum of a single dad and i see the shite that is thrown at him for choosing to be the primary carer of his kids.


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