Stinky or not, Pampers of course is reacting. “Obviously we’re treating this issue with utmost urgency,” says Jodi Allen, vice president of Pampers North America. “We’re doing everything we can to reach out to moms and assure them of the safety of our product.”
As for the diapers being safe – in an interview with Bloomberg, P&G spokesman Bryan McCleary said the company “has found no evidence that the diapers cause rashes or burns and that P&G has received one rash complaint for every five million Dry Max diapers sold — about 400 complaints so far.” One in five million.
P&G says that not only are the materials used in the new diaper not new – “they are the same type used in our previous products” – but they tested the new Dry Max diapers on 20,000 babies and 300,000 diaper changes before launching them commercially. (That’s a lot of baby bottoms!) Furthermore, they point out, at any time 25 percent of kids have diaper rash and 250,000 have it severely.
Everyone knows babies get diaper rash from time to time. It’s just inevitable. And frankly it’s really hard to believe that a company like Proctor & Gamble would release a product that was not thoroughly tested and safe for babies. Forget about whether or not you think they care about their customers – just from a bottom line perspective, they obviously want to create products that work and keep people coming back for more. Clean, dry baby bottoms = happy moms = more money for Pampers!
I have to take a minute and say that I am a big fan of a lot of P&G products – not just Pampers but Olay, Secret, and Tide. Of course not all their individual products work for me, but if they don’t, guess what? I don’t buy them again. I do feel like P&G is one of the few Fortune 500 companies that has made reaching out to women – not just moms – a top priority. Aside from their recent ThankYouMom.com campaign, they engage in a host of corporate responsibility programs, from sponsoring the Family Home at the Winter Olympics (one of our BettyConfidential editors visited – you can read all about it here) to supporting clean water and vaccine initiatives for kids around the world. Yes – doing things like that makes them look good – but so what? So does volunteering at your local soup kitchen.
Perhaps more to the point, something like this really illustrates the power of the Web and the reach of social media. It’s a new world, and in many ways it’s a great thing – our voices as consumers can be heard; corporations can be taken to task and held accountable. But there’s also the danger that things can get out of hand, that unfounded claims can get way too much attention and blow situations out of perspective. After all, we’re talking about diaper rash, here, people, not infanticide.
It seems pretty crazy that all I have to do to start a major attack on a company is set up a Facebook page, use some smart, inflammatory key words, and get enough people to join that the media takes notice. Et voila … a class action lawsuit. Keep in mind, the diapers came out in 2008. That’s two year ago. According to P&G, 2.2 billion Dry Max diapers have been sold since 2008. It wasn’t until very recently that the lawsuits were filed – right about the same time that all the Facebook activity spring up and people suddenly started using the words “chemical burn” instead of diaper rash.
Finally – something to consider also is that things like this can cause a backlash, in which all “Mommy Bloggers” get lumped together into one, hysterical mass. I’ve seen plenty of headlines like “When Mommy Bloggers Attack!” – making moms with computers sound like scary retro monsters about to eat Chicago.
What do you think about all this? When things like this happen, how do you decide who to listen to, and what to believe?