Huggies Answers

After engaging with fathers and pledging to care for the other half of the parenting equation, Huggies continues to push their “Huggies Mommy Answers” with largely-good commercials, but the same narrow, single-minded mom focus.

Dads, do you have questions about raising your kids? Where do you go? Who do you ask? Unfortunately, you’re not in Huggies’ demographic, so it’s not their problem. Go ask a buddy.

Let me start off by saying this: the commercials I’m going to talk about aren’t that bad. There, I said it! In my years of whining about dumb dads in commercials and unfair treatment in media, I’ve got to say that these commercials don’t necessarily make dads look stupid. And if anything, the commercials show loving fathers who need answers. Answers their wives can look up, I guess.

“So how could we create a relationship with our consumer before the enemy got to them?” asks Huggies Mommy Answers campaign Creative Director, Vince Soliven on his site. “We started talking to moms when they were just moms-to-be and provided them with a digital resource that could answer all of their pregnancy questions and more.”

Huggies overlord Kimberly-Clark saw that mothers (the ahem, target demographic) were being slammed by their competitor right from the start – at the hospital, where they were new moms were being outfitted Pampers’ new mom kits. So, as Soliven says, the key was to make a relationship before the hospital.

Soliven, BTW, is the guy who was also Creative Director of Huggies’ “Dad Test” campaign. So, there’s that. We loved the Dad Test. And by “loved” I mean “hated.” To be clear, we’ve got nothing against Soliven personally. Just drawing a line between resources, folks.

Huggies has been, to their credit, more dad-conscious. Ever since that fallout with fathers over the Dad Test, Huggies started including more fathers in their commercials and continued an open line of communication with dads. In fact, they the 2012 Dad 2.0 Summit to see how serious fathers were about parenthood, and even offered a discount for some fathers registering for this October’s 18th Annual At-Home Dads Convention.

So, earlier this year, Huggies knocked it out of the part with their “Test Town” campaign. Here’s one of the commercials:

What you saw was dad competently changing a diaper (at-will!). But what you didn’t see was finger-pointing at dad. Believe it or not, this is what fathers love to see in advertising: a dad shown as competent and willing, without a voiceover declaring “even dads can use it.”

Onto Huggies’ Mommy Answers commercials. Okay, no, wait…I’m going to get ranty here for a second.

I know that dad bloggers sometimes get labeled as “whiny” about commercials. We’ve had our fair share of readers tell us “lighten up” and “moms have had it so much worse.” And dear readers, we’re not discounting moms at all. We know women aren’t always the best portrayed in media – when you’re single, you’re looked at as a must-be-sexy-must-keep-it-up object. When you’re a mom, you’re looked at as the must-clean-the-house-must-cook-every-meal custodian. Dads get that. And that’s why we usually have a paragraph about why dissing dads disses moms as well. Don’t you hate it when a company puts dad in-line with the kids and makes moms the task-master in the house? Us too! We want advertisers to show parents as equals. That means we want to see moms and dads playing with kids, cooking for kids and changing diapers. It’s slowly getting better. 2013 has had more commercials depicting capable dads than any previous year.

And I said it before – the actual “Mommy Answers” commercials aren’t that bad! Of the seven commercials that have come out, all of them make the dads look like loving partners that are (and want to be) involved in the pregnancy and birthing process. In one of the commercials, mom even says “doin’ great, honey”:

I like it! Sure, the more sensitive guys will pick at this one, but in my opinion (as a normally sensitive-about-this-guy), the commercial makes dad look concerned about his family’s safety.

As they all do. In “Baby Proofing“, the father looks a little goofy army-crawling on the floor, but hey, it’s an act of love. In “Headphones“, the father pulls what we’re okay saying is a typical dad move as a joke. Everything’s lighthearted, and the moms aren’t ever depicted as outclassing the dads.

In “First Diaper”, mom and dad change a diaper together:

Mom and dad are both hunched over the baby, putting on the diaper – and when they find they need to change the diaper again, you can see them smiling and chuckling with each other. No tension, no “I told you so” or “this is why we can’t have nice things.”

So, hopefully Huggies is getting what they want from their “Mommy Answers”. Personally speaking, the concept blows. When my son was a baby, I always wanted to find a reliable source of information (rather than a forum or – yikes – Yahoo Answers). Inevitably, I asked other fathers or tried to pull real-world info from a doctor’s website. You hear that, Huggies? I needed information and sought it out.

Dads: raise the awareness of these commercials and program! It’s great that the commercials show fathers, but the program stops short of acknowledging that fathers actually seek and find answers to baby questions.

Moms: you don’t want to have a monopoly on the answers, because then advertisers will only look to you for the child-rearing. Mention this article to Huggies, and tell them that you like the father involvement in the commercials but you don’t need the pressure of being the only one to look up answers!

Would Huggies overlord Kimberly-Clark ever see the value in a “Parent Answers”? Possibly – as more men become primary caregivers (married stay-at-home dads, single dads and gay dads), Huggies might want the dad-segment’s money. After all, it’s green, and we’ve got to spend it somewhere.