For Huggies, diapers are now a dad thing.
Its new Special Delivery diapers feature fathers front and center with babies – a first for the company that once got criticism for ads that portrayed fathers as disconnected from the caretaking role.
There are six different box designs – three with men and babies and three with women and babies – in the new premium diaper line that touts plant-based ingredients, leak protection and “ultimate softness,” said Kristine Rhode, Huggies North America brand director, in an interview with USA TODAY.
“We really believe in celebrating all parents and the great job that parents are doing,” Rhode said, noting moms have been featured on boxes before. “When you think about the important role that dads have in the family today and how that continues to grow, we wanted to make sure they were equally celebrated.”
Another first for Huggies, these diapers are packaged in black boxes to convey the feeling of a premium product, Rhode said. The diapers started rolling out to stores this month.
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Tori Bridges’ now 23-month-old daughter, Soraya Lattimore, is featured on the size 5 box of diapers along with Chicago model Orlondo Thompson.
“It means a lot especially the representation in society with African American fathers. They’re not necessarily out there as much, and this is really changing the narrative,” Bridges said. “It was just very beautiful, and I was just grateful that Soraya was a part of history.”
Thompson, 32, has been surprised by the response and has been recognized for his place on the box.
“There’s a stereotype that’s out there that dads in general, not just a particular race, are not connected to their kids and not affectionate,” said Thompson, who is not himself a father. “This should have been displaced a long time ago.”
Fatherhood advocate Derrick David Bryant, who is a National Fatherhood Initiative board member, says it’s a great step in reaching out to fathers and becoming more father-friendly.
“For so long, culture has said fathers bring home the bacon and play with the kids and that it’s a mother’s responsibility to do the diapering and child-rearing,” said Bryant, who is a father engagement coordinator of a Texas nonprofit. “Just the mere image says fathers are welcome to change diapers and are expected.”
Bryant said for the many fathers already changing diapers it’s an affirmation they don’t often see.
“Dads are shopping too,” Bryant said.
The U.S. diaper market is worth about $12.6 billion with parents spending about $700 on diapers in a baby’s first year.
Huggies’ competitor Pampers has also been going after dads. Last month, it announced it wanted to make it easier for dads with small children by installing 5,000 changing tables for public restrooms across North America by 2021.
Joe Flowers Jr., a dad from Chicago, spotted the diapers and posted to Facebook on July 2. His post went viral and has been shared 80,000 times and has more than 5,500 comments.
“I was just happy to see that fathers were represented because we are never promoted on anything. That was my initial reaction,” Flowers told USA TODAY. “Just so happens that the man was African American … I know we actually take care of our children just as much as the mom sometimes, so I was just proud to see a representation of that in the stores.”
Flowers hopes more companies follow Huggies.
“I would absolutely love for more fathers to be shown on products because we use them as well,” he said. “I know for me it was a good feeling to see someone like me represented on a package.”