Getting Dad to Do Diaper Duty

Written by New York Times | Updated: Jun 30 2010, 02:04am hrs
Andrew Adamnewman

Fathers are changing more diapers than ever, but you would never guess that while walking down the diaper aisle, where packages feature mothers but never fathers.

Now Pampers, the Procter & Gamble brand, while not planning to advertise on ESPN anytime soon, is taking baby steps toward fathers. On June 17, Pampers was host to a Daddy Play Date in Manhattan with celebrity fathers like the singer Joel Madden and the actor Gilles Marini and about 100 guests, who played carnival games with their toddlers. According to an invitation, the event was to pay homage to dads on diaper duty.

Three days later, on Fathers Day, Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints quarterback and a Pampers spokesman, threw out the first pitch at the Yankees-Mets game while wearing a Pampers T-shirt. Mr. Brees was joined by his 17-month-old son Baylen, whom he had held aloft amid falling confetti in the celebratory minutes after the Saints Super Bowl victory in February.

For Pampers, which released a Web-only video earlier this year of Brees promoting Dry Max, a technology that allows diapers to be thinner, the effort to market to fathers is a new one.

The role of dads is expanding and we salute that and we want to make dads a bigger part of the brand, said Bryan McCleary, a Pampers spokesman. Dads are playing an increasingly large role in parenting and diapering.

In a recent survey of parents by Pampers, 69% of men responded that they changed diapers as often their wives, while 11% said they did so even more often. Although mens perceptions differ from womens (only 31% of mothers said fathers split diaper duties equally, and just 4% said fathers did more), the findings are consistent with other reports about mens growing involvement in the home.

A new feature on Pampers Facebook page encourages fathers to share parenting stories, with entrants eligible for daily drawings of $250 diaper giveaways through June.

Most Pampers packaging features mothers and babies, though the brand occasionally features just a baby. Huggies is the opposite, usually featuring just babies, but occasionally featuring mothers, too. Neither brands packages feature fathers.

Some dad blogs have praised Huggies, a Kimberly-Clark brand, for including fathers in commercials. One spot from 2008, for instance, showed a father trying to change his son, from whom a geyserlike stream emanates. Another, from 2009, shows a father chasing his toddler at a playground. A Pampers ad from 2007 shows a less engaged father, who snores while his wife puts food on the table.

Pampers spent a total of $41.4 million on advertising in 2009, while Huggies spent $38.8 million, according to Kantar Media, a unit of WPP.

Representatives from both Huggies and Pampers said that the vast majority of diaper shoppers were women, but declined to estimate what percentage were men.