Pampers’ Crisis Management Response to Dry Max Class Action Lawsuit Is a Press Release

Procter & Gamble’s Pampers bite the hand that feeds them. In an effort to combat a class action suit against Pampers, the company called its customers liars, and denied all responsibility that the Dry Max product could cause rashes.

Before I go on, let me briefly tell you about my experience with Pampers. About nineteen months ago I gave birth to a wonderful little boy. Like any parent, I bought for him what I thought it was the best on the market: Pampers diapers (not with Dry Max), Weleda skincare products, organic clothes, and so on.

Everything fine, except the fact that my child suffered from medium to severe diaper rashes, which, our physician said were normal, and recommended a diaper rash treatment. But it so happens that I have a oversensitive sense of smell. There was something profoundly wrong with the scent of the diapers, when wet. I was convinced that a chemical in the diaper was causing the rash, so I’ve decided to change them for a less known brand that used organic materials, which also happened to be cheaper. My baby never had a diaper rash since.

It’s probably not fair to relate the news about a class action lawsuit against a company by relating a personal experience with that company, but I think is time for P&G and Pampers to start assuming some responsibilities, instead of blaming the parents.

On May 11 and May 12, Keller Rohrback L.L.P. filed two lawsuits in Ohio against Pampers and P&G. The parents assert the company “knew or should have known that Pampers with Dry Max had the capacity to and, in many cases, did actually harm infants and toddlers by causing severe rashes, blisters, chemical burns, infections, and/or other ailments.”

In a press release distributed via PR Newswire, P&G writes: “Intensive safety assessments, clinical testing, and consumer testing before, during, and after the launch shows that Pampers Dry Max is safe and does not cause severe skin conditions. Further review by pediatricians, pediatric dermatologists, and children’s public-health-risk experts confirm these findings. While we have great empathy for any parent dealing with diaper rash — a common and sometimes severe condition — the claims made in this lawsuit are completely false.”

There are some issues I see with the lawsuit, like the case of the mother who discontinued use of the Pampers product, only to allow the care center to use it again on her child six weeks after. If you know what hurts your child, you should probably not use it again. But based on my personal experience, Pampers should publicly acknowledge that some children might be allergic to whatever chemicals they use in manufacturing the diapers.

Diaper rash affects more than 2.5 million babies at any given moment, and 250,000 cases are typically severe. In other words, one out of every four babies at any given time will be experiencing diaper rash. To attribute these conditions to the Dry Max disposable diaper is incorrect and misguided. Pampers writes in the above cited press release. If we talk statistics, it would be interesting to know how many of the 2.5 million babies, and how many of the 250,000 typically severe cases are given Pampers products.

A self-serving press release, denying any responsibility and asserting further that the parent who sued them are lying is not the way to go, in my view. This approach will only piss off parents, especially some like myself who didn’t blame the company, but simply changed to a different product.

Babies have a very sensitive skin, anything can cause a rash. Pampers should know this, and instead of trying to hide behind a poorly crafted PR campaign, they should show genuine care, and work with the parents who experienced problems with their products, to identify what element in the diapers causes the rashes. The customer is NEVER wrong.

Calling the consumers “liars”? Come on, P&G, you could do better than that! The unfortunate press release that denied any responsibility and touted Pampers Dry Max as infallible caused a stir already. Parents were asking for a Dry Max recall for a while now, but the PR war between P&G and the mommy bloggers is about to start. In the end, Pampers is too big to lose, unless the two trials already filed will create the desired precedent. For the consumers, the social media provides a powerful voice, and this will get louder and louder.

What P&G should understand is this: “The battle here is not with opposing scientists, it’s with opposing consumers. It’s their money, not their facts, that will win the fight.” – Jim Edwards, BNET.

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