Huggies Gets Parents’ Underwear in a Knot

Posted February 29, 2012 by jimhigley

It’s been a long time since I’ve changed a diaper. It’s also been a long time since I’ve paid attention to anything about diapers. But a new television ad from Huggies recently caught my attention. And it looks like I’m not alone. Read on.

Does Anyone Else Smell Something?

Wanna know what’s smellier than a stinky diaper?

Well, it looks like a lot of people think the answer to that question rests in Huggies newly launched ad campaign featuring the “Ultimate Test” – a group of dads who (presumably) don’t change diapers on a timely basis.

Here’s the video on Huggie’s Facebook page.

I saw this ad the other night for the first time. I actually had heard – months ago – that Huggies was kicking off a new “pro-dad” campaign in 2012. So my initial reaction, as I started  focusing on the 30-second spot, was to start high-fiving the television screen. But my first reaction was more like a great big”ouch.” Something didn’t feel right. So I backed up the recorder to watch it again. Then again. Surely I was just missing something. Right? This is 2012.

I watched that commercial four or five times in a row to try to figure it out.

Ultimate test? That has the potential for funny.

Kids loaded up with a warm bottle right before a nap. Oh yeah. I get it. Funny. I’ll laugh.

But every time I rewatched the commercial, I swear that they were suggesting that the “Ultimate Test”  wasn’t the set-up with the bottle right before nap time. Nope. They were saying that the “Ultimate Test” was Dad. Dear old dad.

And it was rubbing me the wrong way. But since I’m no longer a consumer of disposable diapers, I just brushed it off – thinking I must be the only guy on the planet who even noticed the commercial.

Huggies’ Ultimate Test

It seems to me that the real “Test” here – for the folks at Huggies – is how they are going to navigate through what clearly is a messy, stinky, dirty public relations mess. If you take a quick look through the campaign’s Facebook Page it’s pretty clear that a lot of parents noticed the commercial as well. I wasn’t alone. And most parents are not happy.

Some examples:

  • “Right, Dads all idiots, thanks for the continuous stereotype that Dad’s can’t care for their children.”
  • “Hey jerks – thanks for contributing to the perception that fathers are incompetent parents who let babies lay around in their own waste until they can be rescued…”
  • “The narrow view of gender roles maintained and supported by Huggies (and ads, TV shows, etc. like this) hurts dads AND moms. We should all be free to fill our family roles in the way that makes sense based on our skills and interests, not on some antiquated, stereotypical gender binary.”
Here’s a link to the Facebook  comment page for more.And granted, there are a number of people who point out some parents are over-reacting to all of this. I understand. As some of them mention, this isn’t cancer (And as someone who lives with cancer, I actually take offense when people say, “Hey, it’s not cancer.” But I digress). And we’re not talking about war (for sure) or certainly any life threatening issue. But we are talking about an old stereotype of dads that – candidly – really is frustrating. And tired.The vast majority of dads I know don’t fit that stereotype. They’re also not bonafide Martha Stewarts. They’re just parents who are working with their wife or partner to raise their kids. They divvy up the tasks. They juggle. They do their best. They just parent.

Campaign Redo

I’m gonna give Huggies some credit. For trying to get dads involved in a promotion is great. It’s long-overdue. But- as one of the commenters on Facebook pointed out – it sure doesn’t’ look like Huggies did any focus group testing on this campaign before they launched it. Looks to me like they’re the ones with leaky diapers. What a mess.

But the surprising thing is how they are handling it. They’re trying to put a positive spin on the campaign as bringing a focus on dads. Sorry. For me that comment’s dirtier than the diapers we’re talking about.

The Fix is Easy

I actually have a solution. (Note to Huggies: Let me know where to send my invoice for creative services.)

Do a redo of the commercial. Go ahead and keep the “Ultimate Test” theme. But make the idea of the “Ultimate Test” being a bunch of babies who just enjoyed a nice warm bottle before nap time. THAT’s the test.

Swap out a couple of those chairs with moms. So you’ve got a room full of moms and dads (collectively, we call them “Parents.”)

Relaunch the campaign with that. Parents. And don’t make a big deal about it including moms and dads. Let the picture speak for itself.

Get over the gender thing, will ya, Huggies?

Because, as best as I can tell from all the comments you’re ignoring on Facebook, most of us parents have been over the gender thing for years.










  • Eric

    Well articulated post. If only the majority of others took time to articulate their opinions as clear and thought out on Facebook. Personally I think that as men who have for years been the perpetrators of stereotypes of others, although I agree that we need to get past stereotypes. If you are going to call out this commercial, should we not then call out the latest M&M spot that shows men as sexist pervs that just want to see woman naked?( 
    Where do we draw the line on something meant to be funny, light hearted and entertaining. Shouldn’t we all boycott Hollywood and the entertainment industry? In the end, press is press and I don’t think that this Facebook campaign is going to really hurt Huggies or their bottom line.

    • Jim Higley

      Thanks Eric! I appreciate you reading and commenting! I posted to you on Facebook!

  • Amanda Tatprincess

    as for your creative idea of the bottle before nap time… that was done and posted on their Facebook LAST week…

    • Jim Higley

      Didn’t see that, Amanda but I”ll go check it out. My main idea was actually just doing the commercial with moms and dads – nixing the whole gender thing. By the way, I just went over to Facebook (looking for what you referenced) and saw a lot of your comments on there. You have great input. Good stuff! Thanks.

  • Greek Momma™

    I completely agree. What a crappy commercial.

  • Chris Routly (Daddy Doctrines)

    Hi Jim! Just wanted to let you know that there is a similar petition going on here:

    This is certainly no “petition competition”, but it is closing in on 400 signatures and rising quickly. We’re hoping it will get enough traction to get someone’s attention, and I’d love your signature and any support you can throw it’s way.


  • Anonymous

    I think everyone has become far too sensitive (pardon the pun) in ouf society. As dads, we should be tough enough to be able to deal with a little humor at our expense. This is clearly no harm, no foul.

  • Greggieguygood

    Good article, my late step into parenthood was rewarding. I knew my wife didn’t have the nurturing ability or the desire to go all in to the simple things I learned. Her breasted didn’t work and I knew my child would be missing the bond that mother’s instill in their children from start. My child would not miss out and I step to the plate some how. Well from my own experience a sore bum is a terrible pain. In my clear thinking a sore bum is the same as being hungry to inner bidy turmoil. After dad, cream was her second word:). I never wore a shirt a lot and I provided the flesh contact(She always made me sweat as hey are little heaters). I do have a deep bond and would compare the boob to the bum any day to create content children. My other parental advice would be: If your child can just get their head off the floor, that’s where your head should be and you can grow up together. I must make a vid of this… greggieguygood is my handle on youtube. Myth busters should do a piece on this as the boob does not beat a caring dad in child development.