IN a new commercial for Huggies Little Movers Slip-On Diapers, which have leg holes and slide on like underwear, a baby rolls over twice in the same direction as a voiceover begins, “Huggies presents a whole new way to change a rolling pin.”
Huggies’ Little Movers tries to appeal to people who have trouble getting babies to be still for a moment.
Then, as another baby bends over and looks back through her legs, he adds, “the acrobutt,” followed by another crawling naked (“the streaker”) and finally one propelling himself forward in a sitting position (“and the booty scoocher.”)
When a woman enters the frame and scoops up a baby to be changed, the announcer sounds as if he might be calling a hog-tying event at a rodeo: “Just catch. Slip on. And release!”
The spot, by the Chicago office of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, part of WPP, closes with the announcer asking: “Got a squirmy baby? Try the diaper that changes everything.”
The spot is scheduled to be shown widely starting on Sunday, and the campaign includes print and online advertising and in-store marketing. At Wal-Mart, a version of the television commercial will play on flat-screen monitors that are part of end-of-aisle displays.
Marketing efforts are being aimed primarily at mothers of babies 10 months or older, though wriggly babies as young as 8 months might also be good candidates for the diapers, which will be available in size 3 (16 to 28 pounds) through size 5 (over 27 pounds), according to Erik Seidel, the vice president of Huggies, a Kimberly-Clark brand.
Consumer research by the brand found that 60 percent of mothers with babies around 10 months or older report that their babies try to get away during a diaper change, and the new diaper style, which does not require a child to lie down, will fulfill “an unmet need,” Mr. Seidel said.
The pull-on diaper, which has stretchable material on its sides for a snug fit, is the first by a major brand in North America, according to Kimberly-Clark. While the diaper might seem like merely a smaller version of the training pants for older children, Mr. Seidel said that training pants were designed to withstand only occasional accidents, while the slip-on diaper promised the same level of leakage protection and absorbency as other Huggies diapers.
“The slip-on diaper is designed for multiple insults by babies lying down or standing up,” Mr. Seidel said. And, while the product does not go on like a diaper, it comes off like one: the sides open for easy removal.
“We think this is game-changing,” said Mr. Seidel, who predicted the new diaper, which will be widely available beginning in early August, could acquire a 5 percent share of the disposable diaper market within its first year.
The diaper market totals about $1.8 billion in annual revenue in the United States, according to Mintel, the market research firm. Huggies, which declined to reveal the cost of the new campaign, spent $51.5 million on advertising in 2010, behind Pampers, the Procter & Gamble brand, at $55.4 million, according to the Kantar Media unit of WPP.
Diaper brands face myriad challenges today, not the least of which is fewer babies: the national birth rate fell more precipitously from 2007 to 2009 than it had in more than three decades, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Parents, meanwhile, are increasingly giving store brands a whirl.
Although total dollar sales for the disposable diaper category fell 4.7 percent in the 52 weeks that ended July 10, sales for private label brands grew 5.4 percent, according to SymphonyIRI Group, a market research firm whose data does not include Wal-Mart. And diaper marketers cannot easily lure consumers from rival brands, with Mintel reporting that 55 percent of diaper purchasers say they “always or almost always buy” their preferred brand.
“People are pretty brand-loyal, and when they’ve found a diaper that works for them they are pretty keen to stick with it,” said Suzanne Kühl, associate director of marketing and merchandising at Diapers.com, the online retailer owned by Amazon.
But a claim of simplifying the diaper change of a fidgety baby could snare consumers from rival brands, she said.
“There is an opportunity for a lot of trial from people who traditionally bought a different brand,” Ms. Kühl said.
Even if current Huggies purchasers switched to the new diaper style, it would be a windfall for the brand, since the per-diaper price will be on average about 16 percent higher.
A tagline for the campaign — “Just catch. Slip on. Release!” — is decidedly less sentimental than typical advertising for baby products, but Angela Johnson, a managing director at Ogilvy who works on the Huggies brand, said it reflected the marketing tone for the brand generally.
“The way Huggies talks to moms is that it doesn’t idealize motherhood, it’s about the real world and the real-world challenges you’ll have,” said Ms. Johnson, who described the newest campaign as “a big dose of reality, but told with humor.”
Chris Turner, a creative director at Ogilvy who worked on the campaign, has a baby of his own in diapers.
“At times, these kids can be like little wild animals and you just want to catch the little guy, quickly do your change, and then do your release,” Mr. Turner said. “It really is just a more clever way of communicating ‘as easy as 1-2-3.’ ”
It was not until after the commercials had been filmed that the agency came up with terms like “rolling pin” for the babies.
As for casting those ads, the casting call took the unusual approach of seeking the “squirmiest” babies who, being babies rather than Juilliard graduates, did not necessarily deliver.
“Some did their squirmy moves and we just wrote to their moves,” said Mr. Turner. “But some didn’t move, and some just cried.”