Dump This Ad

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Am I the last person in the world to see this Huggies commercial?  I like a good laugh as much as the next guy.  But unlike the vast majority of commenters on YouTube, Time Magazine and Parent Dish who found it hilarious and cute, it made me uneasy.  Then queasy. Then angry.  And it’s not just the disturbing fact that a toddler is portrayed as a hunky, sexy little adult.  It’s the way we’re supposed to laugh about the contents of his diaper as if he were a cartoon character rather than a real person.  Fine if you’re Will Farrell doing a comedy sketch, volunteering to be the “butt” of a series of scatological jokes.  But a baby? Would Depends compete for market share by poking fun at grandpa with a diaper-full?  Am I terminally sensitive? Overreacting? Nuts? What do you think?????

(Thank you to Jude Keith Rose for sending me this.)


Please share your comments and questions. I read them all and respond to as many as time will allow.

  1. Brian Utterback says:

    This one doesn’t bother me so much as the pushing the toddler down thing. Doesn’t do much for me, either. Not fond of scatological jokes, but the satire here is of fashion commercials, it isn’t a satire of babies. Wouldn’t get me to buy the diapers though.

  2. Janet,
    I completely agree with you this ad is terrible, I was actually shocked at the script and the posing of the baby, I can’t believe someone thought this was a good idea!

  3. Hi Janet:

    When I saw this Huggie’s ad, I was annoyed. It’s just another “cute” ploy to portray children as adults and capture market share through their parents. I hate the look of “jeans” on diapers, too.

    Why do we have to rush children into adult clothing and adult situations and adult roles? Why are we making fun of the serious work of being a baby? Maybe the Huggie’s folks should read David Elkind’s classic book, The Hurried Child, http://www.amazon.com/Hurried-Child-Growing-Fast-Soon/dp/0738204412 and Diane Levin’s book, So Sexy So Soon. http://www.sosexysosoon.com/

    I know people will accuse me of being humorless. Oh, so not true! I do have a sense of humor, and I am a marketing geek, so I get it, but the ad just bothers me a lot because it is so blatantly exploitive of childhood.

    I know people feel the same way about the E-Trade commercials, but while some of the scripts in those commercials are certainly inappropriate, they don’t make me as uncomfortable. The Huggie’s ad bothers me on so many levels. Will marketers ever learn that their role in impacting children by driving mainstream culture (directly or indirectly) is huge?

    Fran Simon

    1. Hi Fran,

      Thanks so much for sharing the links. I’m a big fan of David Elkind’s books. What you said about “the serious work of being a baby” is so true and it really gets me. That little boy looks like he is working really hard on walking!

      A mom was telling me yesterday about 13-year-old girls going to Bar Mitzvah in ultra-short shorts and high heels as if they were 20-year-olds out clubbing. I don’t think parents realize that we’re training our children to believe that sexy and “adult” is cute when we endorse and allow these kinds of commercials.

  4. I never liked those Huggies commercials in the first place, but never thought of the commercials as you have, but I do see what you mean (I think). Could it be at the same level as with words printed on the bottoms of sweatpants for junior girls? It is drawing attention to the butt, can’t deny that. I almost feel though (and this goes along with the new designer Pampers) that they are trying to compete with the many, many cute cloth diaper covers that are out there. But then again, those also draw attention to the butt as well…they are cuter in my opinion 😉 So maybe the question is, how would the Huggies “jean” diapers and the designer Pampers be any different from the various designs/prints on cloth diaper covers?

    1. For me it’s not about calling attention to the baby’s bottom, and I don’t have a big problem with the “jeans”. It’s the commercial that offends me. The baby is portrayed as a sex object and there are tasteless scatological jokes at his expense. I also believe we should be discreet in public rather than shout “Ew, something smells! Who has a poopy diaper?!” and then grab at a baby’s pants. We wouldn’t do that to each other (hopefully!), but unfortunately, we think of babies as less than human sometimes.

  5. Roseann Murphy says:

    I must be the other last person to see this commercial, but I will find time in my busy schedule to write to P&G and let them know how I feel about the “sexualization and objectification” of this baby. The mere fact that so much of society has become immune to this kind of advertising is just another reason to write to the company and express my opinion. Having spent thousands of dollars on disposable diapers over the years, I think I have the duty and the right. If we don’t stand up for these small children..who will? What is happening these days…movie trailers pushing babies over…wee little girls doing the “hoochie coogie dances” on U-tube..what is happening…all in the name of marketing? Hmmmm

  6. I can certainly see where you are coming from in your antipathy to this ad. Not only does it impose superficial and meaningless adult constructs onto toddlers, it exemplifies the complete lack of imagination manifest in so much advertising today – derivative and insulting.

    I concur that the casting of a toddler in this way is in very poor taste.

    What were Huggies thinking? It seems to be really poor marketing.

    Had they just shown children playing in the garden in strong, touch, sturdy diapers that withstand the active, rough and tumble of life at 2 then maybe it would have worked – after all that is what denim is really famous for. The worst thing is that a team of execs has thought this up, commissioned a campaign and spent millions creating something that they believe will appeal to mothers. We are assumed to be empty headed, fashion obsessed trend followers,interested only in making our babies look “stylish”, or worse, being gullible enough to be taken in by manipulative marketing that forces small children to demand useless gimmicks in the supermarket aisles.

    1. I wonder if it is poor marketing, or if it’s generating tons of sales. The ad is certainly getting attention, and if you can gauge by the comments on those other sites it’s well received. Ugh… Really glad to know I’m not alone, though!

  7. I agree with you, Janet. This ad was distasteful to me. Children are innocent and wonderful, and they shouldn’t be displayed in a provocative manner this way.

  8. Janet,
    I’d never seen this commercial before today, but then I don’t watch a lot of television.
    I agree with your views completely; the ad and the way the baby is portrayed sickens and disgusts me.
    Thank you for trying to raise awareness around a very important issue. I’m a firm believer that we as a society need to begin to open our eyes and say “NO” to the way babies are often exploited and portrayed in the media, and by marketers.
    Babies are vulnerable, and can’t speak for themselves, so someone has to speak up on their behalf.
    How babies are portrayed and talked about influences how they are treated. I don’t think sexualizing a young child is in any way funny or necessary, especially in the service of selling products.
    Unfortunately, I think too many people are inured to this fact, and trivialize the true danger of this kind of advertising.

    1. Lisa, well said!

      I was just trying to imagine this commercial with a baby girl instead — wearing her jean diaper with a sexy, womanly top — men and women gazing at her, their eyes popping out. I think that would be deemed inappopriate, don’t you? But with a baby boy, for some reason it’s considered acceptable.

  9. I don’t like this either, Janet. Incredibly poor taste but I might say that about most of television advertising.

  10. Christina Kessler says:

    You’re right, this ad is offensive and tacky. So much of marketing is like that, because there is so much push to SELL SELL SELL!

    As for the diapers themselves, it does seem really ridiculous to me to have “denim” diapers. But maybe it will stop people from putting their babies in those tight, stiff, REAL denim jeans. At the center where I work, we change almost half the kids out of jeans or tight pants every day into comfortable school-owned clothes. These kids are all under 13 months; they need to be crawling not looking “cool”!

    I wish society would just let go of it’s fixation (slurped up by the media) on kids’ appearances.

  11. I feel so validated. I have disliked this commercial since I first saw it and am glad to be in good company!

  12. Hmm, I don’t hate the jeans diapers. I thought they were kind of funny when I saw them at Target…BUT this ad is offensive!! You’re right…they are portraying him the same way they do an attractive man, with the ladies (and men) putting their glasses down to get a closer look. It’s really gross when you think about it! There are sexual predators who prey on children, it’s a very real problem… so to market to that mindset is truly disturbing! Not to mention the poking fun at his bodily functions?? It’s very weird…

  13. The first time I saw this commercial I was shocked. I’m glad I’m not alone in feeling this way! They are totally sexualizing a young boy and with all the sick people in the world this is the last thing we need to be normalizing. I have a big sense of humor but this is not ok.
    Good point about if it were a little girl.
    Also, I cloth diaper so another reason I didn’t like this ad!

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