Proctor and Gamble has been fighting a public relations war the past few months. It is likely not the first such war fought, but the playing field has changed, because of social media.
Here are the facts:
- Proctor and Gamble reformulated its popular Swaddler and Cruisers line of Pampers diapers.
- They sold new product in old packaging.
- When they finally announced that they had made a change, some consumers were happy, some were not.
- There have been many negative reports on these new diapers. Some complain that they smell of chemicals, others complain that they leak, and most disturbingly, some have had children endure horrible diaper rashes. There have even been children here in Bismarck who have endured such rashes.
On their own, these facts point me toward choosing other diapering options. Of course, I was not a big consumer of Pampers, my girls are in cloth diapers 99% of the time. Pampers was never on my preferred brand list.
HOWEVER, on my observation of how Pampers has chosen to handle this situation, my choice to not buy Pampers (or Luvs) products has been solidified.
Rather than admit that there MAY be a problem with the new formulation of diapers, they have done everything in their power to convince mothers that there really is no difference, the diapers are essentially the same, just thinner and more effective. The company has insinuated that the rashes (some have described them as chemical burns) are not the fault of the diaper but instead are either because of change in diet, teething, or not changing the diaper enough.
They have flown in at least two sets of "Mommy Bloggers" to their headquarters to convince them, and hopefully us, of their innocence, and that they GENUINELY care about babies.
Let's think about this realistically. This company, and almost every other company has their bottom line as their best interest. If they can change the formulation of a diaper and make it cheaper to produce, and only a few people are affected, then their change is a success in their eyes.
However, we live in an age where word travels lightening fast. If Mom A's baby gets a bad rash from Pampers, a few years ago she would have told her play group, and her sister, and her best friend, and they would each tell a friend or two. Word would get out, but it would not really go "viral". Today, Mom A has a son with a rash from Pampers and she blogs about it, tells her play group, her sister, her best friend and her 600 Facebook friends.
Just because more people find out about this babies rash, does not make it any less valid. And just because every mom who experiences this problem does not call Pampers, or visit the pediatrician, or tell her play group, does not mean that her child did not suffer.
The fact is, there are children who have had horrible reactions to these diapers.
Pampers can do what they like with this information. I just think that their PR dollars would be better spent to say "Hey, these diapers may not be for everyone, but we're keeping them", rather than their current tactic of trying to change the mind of mothers, and convincing them that those poor rashy babies may just be a publicity stunt or a money grab.
This is not the first time that companies have made the old switcheroo. Remember New Coke? I wonder if Coca Cola would have pulled that stunt today, in the age of Facebook and Twitter?
The fact is, our products are being switched up all the time. Sugar is constantly being replaced by High Fructose Corn Syrup. I live in a state that produces a lot of corn, but I still am not buying the propaganda that it is the same as table sugar. Have I avoided all of the products that contain HFCS? Not yet. But I am slowly but surely replacing many of these items in our diet.
Cleaning products change formulatons, and sometimes they tell us, the consumer, and sometimes not.
Food packaging is shrinking and prices go up.
As parents we need to be aware of these changes. We need to carefully weigh the consequences of these changes. For some, the changes do not matter. Those that truly love a Pampers product and don't experience an adverse reaction, are not going to change brands over a reformulation.
I'm a huge Coca Cola drinker, and I knowingly ingest more HFCS than I care to think about. While I'd prefer that Coke would use real sugar, I'm not at the point where I'm ready to give it up. However, if I see HFCS creep into my spaghetti sauce, I'll stop buying it. Period.
An awareness is what is needed, and the ability to see that companies sometimes don't really care about you personally. Let's face it, "It's not personal here, it's business..."
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