I’m glad I’m not alone.
Sitting on the couch several weeks ago mindlessly watching television, I thought I was the only one offended by a Huggies commercial that portrayed dads as a bunch of buffoons.
Well, I’m taking some liberties with my interpretation, but that is the subtext to the series of commercials Huggies has dubbed “The Ultimate Test.” In the campaign, the company puts its diapers to “the ultimate test” by leaving dads alone to change their babies’ diapers without help.
In other words, if dads can do it without help from mom, then Huggies pass the test.
The commercial offended me right away, but I shrugged it off for a couple of weeks. Then I saw it again, and a burr crept into my saddle that I could only dislodge by writing a blog post about it.
I searched the web for inspiration, primarily other folks who might feel the same way, but found nothing. A Google search found not a single complaint from anyone in the blogosphere.
But now word is starting to spread.
Vincent DiCaro, vice president of development and communications of the National Fatherhood Initiative, wrote a great post about the commercials:
“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,” he wrote. “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.”
Yes, it would, Vincent, make no mistake about it.
Blogger Chris Routly pointed out in his blog post that Huggies has responded to the criticism by saying, in part: “Yes, we could’ve done the Mom Test. But for the first time, we felt that Dads deserved to be celebrated just as much.”
I love Chris’s response: “Oh, I see, you ‘love Dads’ and want to ‘celebrate’ dads so very much that you felt the best way to do that was to promote how well your diapers stand up to being used by such incompetent idiots.”
Granted, as Vincent and Chris noted, the commercials show dads as loving parents, which is promising, but I won’t give the company a pass. The message is akin to applauding a girl for doing well in sports by saying, “You play well. For a girl.”
A conversation is also taking place on Huggies’ Facebook page with people posting both sides of the argument. Some folks are just as offended as I am, but others are telling us dads to get over it because it’s only a commercial, not a social statement.
And a petition (which I didn’t start but signed on Friday) on Change.org highlights the offensive nature of the ads and calls on the company to stop airing them. I hope the company heeds the outcry and changes course like a full diaper, but part of me doubts it will.
After all, Huggies are designed to hold a lot of, well, you know.
“…but others are telling us dads to get over it because it’s only a commercial, not a social statement.”
Commercials ARE social statements. Anyone who thinks otherwise is the patsy at the poker table.
Thanks for the shout-out Jeff.
I just want to point out that I’ve been working with organizers at change.org on a petition as well, which can be found here: http://chn.ge/xX8osb
I certainly don’t want to starts a “petition competition” (see what I did there?) with the person who started the one linked to in your post, but ours is already up to over 300 signatures and will hopefully be getting press coverage soon through a wide campaign. I’d be grateful for your signature and any sharing of it you can muster so we can combine our efforts. 🙂
Done, Chris. Happy to help.