When Brand Love Goes Bad

by

Procter & Gamble has a problem. This spring, they redesigned Pampers diapers making them 20% thinner and more absorbent through what they have billed as Dry Max technology.

For months, parents have complained about babies and toddlers getting severe,  blistery rashes from the “new” diapers. As days went by, the story grew from local conversations in passing to a public Facebook group that (as of today) numbers more than 10,700 members. When the Associated Press picked up the story, it perked up the ears of local and national media. Now there are lawsuits and a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission investigation is underway.

At first, P&G said little. One entity they did talk to? Ad Age was invited inside for a first-hand account of P&G’s response to the unfolding situation. After initially saying little, P&G pushed back, hard.

From carefully worded SEO-optimized statements to mommy blogger courting sessions, P&G’s strategy seemed to bite the hands that feed an $8.5 billion brand.

I have been a loyal Pampers user for two children (almost six years with a one year break in the middle).

In fact, I had a problem with some Pampers about a year ago. P&G smothered me with love and refunded me for a large box of defective diapers. That interaction made me sing their praises even louder for their effective customer service and the fact that they didn’t make me jump through hoops to get a refund. I loved Pampers. I still love them. I just won’t use them.

My one and a half year old is one of the kids who suffered what I classify as a horrific diaper rash. His rash is finally better but I will never forget it.

So many brands market to moms these days. P&G’s situation is a reminder that even the deepest brand love is an ongoing relationship. It’s up to marketers to decide if the relationship merely falters and recovers. Or, is a complete break-up.

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