Huggies was recently forced to pull its potentially chuckle-worthy, but highly misdirected “Test Dad” campaign after a Pennsylvania dad started an online petition that quickly garnered over 1,300 signatures.
The campaign, basically depicted fathers as bumbling, incompetent caregivers, with a commercial voiceover that said leaving dads alone with their babies for five days, is the “toughest test imaginable.”
More dads than ever are taking on child-rearing chores, with one in three fathers regularly acting as their child’s primary caregiver, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. So it’s no surprise that an ad like this was bound to anger hard-working, sleep-deprived dads (and moms) of infants the world over.
As a result of the online petition and a meeting with angry fathers at the Dad Summit 2.0, Huggies poo-poo’d the most reviled spot that showed dads apparently more engrossed in watching spots on TV than minding their young kids. Huggies has since replaced the canned ad with a more subtle version that goes a long way toward accomplishing a kind of “dad’s rule (with help from Huggies)!” message they were aiming for.
Although Huggies responded quickly and cleaned up its act with a revised campaign, some commenters remain fussy about the campaign’s entire premise – that leaving dads alone with their babies constitutes “the ultimate test.”
Let’s face it, stereotypes are often funny and often true, but as we’ve seen time and time again exploiting stereotypes in advertising has the potential to hit a hilarious homerun, or sink customer credibility, and there’s a fine line between success and failure.
I’m certain that I’d naturally be a little concerned about leaving my diapered little one with a husband if he were a new father. But I’d also be confident that he’d have enough sense to know when it’s time to re-diaper junior. Apparently Huggies didn’t give their customers as much credit with “Test Dad.”
- Marrissa (Twitter: @marrissam)