Sharing is always good!

Oh Huggies, what have you done? I saw a flurry of posts and comments over the last few weeks related to an advertising campaign by Huggies (here is a quick overview by Janice D’Arcy over at the Washington Post and the final outcome as well). Basically, Huggies tried to celebrate dads by calling them inept — maybe not the original goal, but that was the perceived result.

I understand the backlash and think that Huggies deserves almost every single criticism for the sheer fact they used a stereotype as the basis of the campaign. I say almost since, well, some complaints are straight from the book of crazy. I think the other dads out there raking Huggies over the coals — from DaddyYo Dude’s Open Letter to Huggies to The Good Men Project are right on.  If I had to guess, the campaign was most likely created by a room of marketing data wonks at Ogilvy and Mather (the digital AOR for Huggies, although I am not sure if they came up with the original idea) with nary a parent among them. I would think the input of a parent would be useful here, but then again, I would also think that a woman’s input on female contraception would be useful in a congressional hearing (Washington Post gets the props yet again) — but neither happened.

Did someone get reprimanded (or fired) for the move for angering involved fathers everywhere or promoted for creating buzz about the company? I would like to think the former (not that someone lost their job), but my skepticism says the latter. I am not sure I really want to know.

My ultimate fear is that the fathers that did call Huggies out are the exception and not the rule. Sure, dads have come a long way and I agree with DaddyYo Dude that we shouldn’t get a pat on the back for simply doing our fair share, but I think we need to recognize that not every dad out there is an active parent to their children. The most likely truth is that there is a large group of moms out there that would love to see their husbands take over child rearing for a few days knowing that it could end within hours — possibly minutes.

Also, I have mentioned before that different isn’t bad. Different is just…different. And maybe, to give Huggies the benefit of the doubt, the idea wasn’t that a father couldn’t take care of the kids by himself but that a man’s (dad) way of doing things is different from a woman’s (mom) way of doing things. I doubt it, but…well…who knows.

In the end, perception is reality. Take this article I quoted in an earlier post from the New York Times — a survey from pampers found:

69 percent of men responded that they changed diapers as often their wives, while 11 percent said they did so even more often. Although men’s perceptions differ from women’s (only 31 percent of mothers said fathers split diaper duties equally, and just 4 percent said fathers did more).

I am not defending Huggies — far from it — and I am in support of the dads that have let their anger be known. But, this is a complex issue that goes well beyond advertising. Just look at your HR policies….

fan through to the section on paternity leave…

Sharing is always good!