Dry Max PR Goofs: Pampers Attempts to Buy Trust

Pampers Public Relations

Four women, mommy bloggers, are now involved in one of the worse PR blunders of all times. Renee Bigner, Kate Marsh Lord, Tiffany Snedaker, and Stephanie Manner Wagner responded positively to Procter & Gamble’s call, attending a meeting where various Dry Max defenders persuaded them that the product was completely safe, and was, by no means, a reason for rashes.

The bloggers received product samples as compensation for their presence in the meeting. Also, all their trip expenses have been paid.

One of these bloggers, Kate Marsh Lord, whose baby developed a severe rash wearing a Dry Max diaper, left the conference firmly convinced that the product was, in fact safe, and that the rash her baby developed had nothing to do with the diapers. Before attending this meeting, the baby’s pediatrician assured her of the same thing:

“While Pampers has been extremely generous (even flying my kids to the HQ with me since my husband is out of town), I am really going with the hope that I will learn more about the diapers and the company. Frankly, I’m not sure what to think about the Dry Max debate. On the one hand, my daughter had the worst diaper rash of her life while using the Dry Max diapers. On the other, I continued using them and the rash has not returned.”

None of these ladies wrote a report about the meeting just yet, but you can expect all to be positive. At the end of the day the bloggers said they felt confident about the diapers.

Interestingly, Pampers invited moms who usually have positive feelings for the brand:

I am packed and on my way to Pampers Headquarters in Cincinnati! I am a huge fan of Pampers and personally really like the new diapers with Dry Max. I searched for them in the store after receiving some for review when they were first released. Fortunately, Blake has had no issues with the Dry Max Diapers, but there seems to be many babies that have. […] My degree is in science and I do research for a living, so I am excited to see how they test their products and what results they saw. I will be sure to report my findings and will be happy to address any issues and questions that you may have. – wrote Renee Bigner before the conference. Interestingly, she is a “huge fan” and has a degree in science. Pampers knows how to pick them.

The other lady, Tiffany Snedaker, does sponsored reviews for a living. Her first review of a product was based on samples provided by Pampers’ PR company. She too is a huge fan, and a pampers advocate.

We had the opportunity to review them when they first came out a few months ago, and Rowan never had a reaction. We’ve continued to use them, and still have not had any problems. It’s interesting to me that the Dry Max diaper is actually the most tested diaper out there too. When testing the diaper, over 20,000 babies and 300,000 diaper changes were involved. They had on average 2 diaper rashes reported for every million diapers.

The fourth mommy blogger, Stephanie Manner Wagner, is also a Pampers advocate:

Back in February, I received a sample of Pampers new Dry Max Diapers for review from P&G. The Pampers Dry Max Cruisers became an instant favorite in our household and we have been buying them exclusively for our twins ever since initially trying them. I just love how thin they are and have had great results with both boys. I’ve also had the opportunity to host a few giveaways here on the blog so my readers can give them a try.

So, four out of four are “huge fans” and endorse Dry Max repeatedly. Pampers is trying to fight against the mothers who experience problems with their products with the wrong weapons. The credibility of a mommy blogger who does sponsored reviews (yes, samples are a form of compensation, if you keep them!)  for a living is lower than that of a parent who doesn’t. Pampers didn’t invite at the conference any of the angry parents. The discussion still lacks transparency.

The four mommy bloggers will rush home to write positively about the meeting. Four relatively unknown bloggers are not enough to put off the fire however. It would be interesting to watch Pampers’ next moves. So far the news distributed via all major press release newswires still lacks  transparency and credibility. Till they don’t issue a public apology for calling their customers liars, till they don’t organize a meeting with the angry parents, and address these issues showing concern about their children too, Pampers will continue to dig a deeper PR hole. So many angry parents cannot all be wrong, but even if they are it is pretty apparent that Pampers is not playing the game fair.

Comments

  1. says

    Procter & Gamble and Brenda Kidd:
    Unlike Pampers, why can’t Procter & Gamble just sit down with Brenda Kidd and talk about her Actonel adverse side effects, injuries that occurred, before Procter and Gamble sold Actonel, which is a drug for osteoporosis to another company? This has been going on way to long. I will never buy procter and gamble cruisers pampers again, for anyone in my family and also for any babies showers. My grandchild has had rashes from those pampers.

  2. Dave says

    “Tiffany” probably doesn’t exist. I’ve worked in that world. It’s all smoke and mirrors. That anyone would take “her” at her word is hilarious.

  3. connie says

    Each day, I become more astounded by the amazingly inept and irresponsible way P&G is handling this Dry Max dilemma. Trust me, this will be used as a case study in communications/PR classrooms all over the world for years to come. This latest boondoggle, grooming and stroking four mommy bloggers who’d already professed to being ardent fans of the product, is–well, just another chapter in this amazing saga of blunder. P&G, you’ll be lucky if it’s only diapers that will be boycotted by these angry parents!

  4. DaMom says

    Tiffany – You must have “accidentally” missed my post. I believe I presented evidence as to Pampers’ most significant change in the diapers. Perhaps you did not miss my post and realize that you did not get an explanation of the printed on gel vs. the poured inside gel… and now you know that you’ve been duped. But I doubt that’s the case since you already said you “asked a lot of tough questions.” Undoubtedly, you asked Pampers about what direct contact between the absorbent gel and an infant’s skin might cause, right? I know you must have asked that tough question since it is a very relevant and concerning issue. And you asked exactly what chemicals were in the absorbent gel and in what quantities, right? OF COURSE YOU DID!! You “asked a lot of tough questions!” And those would be the toughest! And, of course, Pampers answered you willingly as to what their secret recipe for absorbent gel is and they were able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the chemicals within are non-toxic, non-caustic, hypoallergenic , etc.- right?

    Oh wait! You must not have asked those “tough questions” as you won’t even admit what Pampers admits – that the absorbent gel is now directly against the skin (when said diapers are applied as per recommended use).

  5. concerned dad says

    This has to be the worst management of negative PR I’ve ever seen from a company. Toyota must be just shaking their heads on this one. I can’t believe the positions that Procter & Gamble are taking here.

    First of all, the little round table P&G hosted that you discussed in your article is a joke. I don’t really care what people like “Tiffany”, who run a blog (to make money!) think. I’d rather P&G invite some moms who they haven’t previously sent free samples too. call me crazy!

    Second, I saw the news piece last night, where P&G paraded a bunch of “experts” in front of the camera to testify to the safety of the product. (Are the mother’s whose children have severe rashes supposed to feel better after seeing that?)

    Then to go on and question/criticize mothers for either not changing their children’s diapers frequently enough, or that they are being coached by people on Facebook to use different terminology, or to just come out and call them liars? Truly amazing!

    I wouldn’t be surprised at all if you told me a 12 year old with an internet conncetions was running their PR/crisis management. That’s the type of response I’ve seen so far.

    P&G is going to lose this battle, whether they like it or not. I don’t think they realize they no longer have control of this situation, or any grasp of the potential PR harm that lies in waiting for them if they keep giving us the responses we’ve seen so far. I think it’s going to get much worse for them.

    The truth is, regardless of whether or not the new Pampers cause rashes or not, the way in which P&G has been dealing with the concerns of mother’s, is enough to convince me (and I’m assuming others) to never to buy Pampers again. Do the brilliant marketing minds at P&G realize this? Not yet.

    • Phil Butler says

      Hi Concerned. Like you, this is craziness. If you look at the PR being put out lately by big companies though, maybe not. The IOC and blaming Nodar for his own death!!! BP claiming the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is a drop in the bucket!!! Goldman Sachs and the case of the world gone bankrupt!!!!! And so on. Now P & G has their turn. My theory is the big corporations are testing the public to see if it is okay to just crap on everyone – any time they feel like it. Sorry, one view at least.

      The Zhu Zhu Pets, Mommies loved em mm mmm good. An understaffed and under technical CPSC says they are okay! Swears to me they did their own tests, I have not seen them yet. Then I get footage from inside China 3 weeks ago that reveal Zhu Zhu Pets being made in hell hole. Mommies did not show up for that post. I am not down on Mommies tho, I had one too. My wife is one. I know a bunch who are super people. But, giving a PC to some people is like handing an AK 47 to a toddler. Someone is gonna get hurt. BAD

      Any way, just my late night rant Concerned. People had better wake up soon, or wake up sad.

      Always,
      Phil

  6. says

    After reading my comment up above, I realize that I should have said that they didn’t change any materials, not that that they didn’t change the diaper at all. The diaper did change because some of the pulp was removed.

  7. says

    Hi concerned dad. I just wanted to let you know that there was gel in the Cruisers before. We took apart an old cruiser. They have figured out a better way to distribute the gel in a more organized fashion and have basically taken a bunch of the pulp out. So in essence, it is thinner because it has less pulp.

  8. concerned dad says

    Tiffany, I’m just a concerned Dad whose 12 month old developed her first ever rash “down there” after using just two dry-max diapers yesterday! (My daycare provider actually called me in the middle of the day to inform me about the issue, and ask that we replace the box of diapers that we gave her that morning. That’s how bad it was)

    I’ve spent very little time researching this, but even I know that these new dry-max diapers are very different from the previous. For you to come here and call someone out for not doing their research while also claiming that “nothing was changed in the diaper? Those are facts plain and simple.” is very ignorant and foolish.

    Since you don’t know how, here are some “facts” for you, pulled straight from Pampers FAQ on dry-max diapers.

    http://www.pampers.com/en_US/dry-max-faqs#first

    “we have replaced the bulky material with more absorbent gel. Because the bulky pulp has been replaced by gel, the back of the product is thinner yet still very absorbent”

    or

    “Removing the mesh liner in Pampers Cruisers with Dry Max helps improve the softness of the product.”

    or

    “a new, innovative manufacturing process that allows us to get rid of the bulky fluff material in the storage core”

    So just to be clear here…they’ve made some significant changes to the diaper.

    According to you “We asked a lot of tough questions”. Care to enlighten us? Or do I have to read your blog and help you get your ad revenue up?

    I’ll just end my post right now with another quote from you.

    “I think it’s sad that you aren’t willing to ask questions and get facts before you jump to assumptions.”

  9. Mihaela Lica says

    LOL, so this is what you think we are doing? Critiquing a “competitor”? You are entitled to your opinion, as I am to mine.

    So your were not bought? I can hardly wait for your unbiased review if this is the case. I will be the first to apologize.

  10. LilMomma says

    Pretty unreal that P&G accuses parents whose children have these horrible reactions of being “coached” by Facebook members, yet they fly 4 women to their headquarters for some “coaching”? Lame attempt.

    This article says it all. Oh, and 20,000 babies and 300,000 diaper changes is their “most tested product?” That is a little terrifying. That is just 15 diapers per test subject…2-3 days worth of diapers? Hardly enough evidence.

    Anyone with questions as to what is really responsible for these horrible reactions, read this. http://www.zrecommends.com/detail/five-possible-sources-of-irritation-in-pampers-dry-max-diapers/

  11. says

    Fourth Mommy Blogger here,

    I just wanted to mention that I “rushed home” to be with my kids not to blog. They are my number one priority. Have been, always will be. In fact, my kids are why I went to talk to Pampers not a big old coupon for a box of free diapers.

    As you mentioned, I’ve been a fan of their diapers since they came out in February and shared my fondness of Dry Max with my readers. I didn’t want to just switch brands in a panic because of some facebook fueled rumors, I wanted to take this opportunity make my own decision about them and allow my readers to do the same.

    You are completely entitled to critique your competitors at a different PR firm or Pampers themselves, but your implication that I was a pawn bought by a box of diapers for my twins or a flight to Cincinnati is completely off base.

  12. DaMom says

    Wow! The quotation from Tiffany is nearly word for word from the Pampers’ official press statement. Eerie.

    Tiffany – Do you realize how naive you sound? Pampers has admitted changes, just not given great detail on the changes. They’ve admitted to painting the absorbent gel onto the lining of the diaper rather than pouring it inside of the diaper – http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/109552/diaper-gripes-grow-louder-for-P%26G?mod=family-home
    That means the gel has direct contact with skin. That, to me, is a significant difference. Fact is, though, the closer chemicals are, the more damage they do. Or didn’t they tell you that babies are in direct contact with that material at your meeting?

    How can you honestly believe there have only been 4000 complaints (such is the math according to Pampers – 2 complaints per million diapers sold, over 2 billion diapers sold… equals 4000). http://www.pginvestor.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=104574&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1423829

    They’re not even consistent with the numbers – they’ve recently claimed only 1 complaint per 5 million diapers sold (meaning complaints were retracted?) http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-05-14/procter-gamble-in-bind-over-moms-web-attack-on-pampers-brand.html

    I thought brainwashing was illegal.

  13. says

    I do not know about your kids’ Pampers, but my sisters’ little boy got a bad rash, heard her talking about it. She said the Pampers smelled like chlorine. She changed to a brand called Fixies and the rash issue was solved. I am no biochemist, but it seems to me these compounds, if not carefully QC controlled, could get out of hand.

  14. Sunny says

    Would it not be better to wait until the courts settle whether or not Pampers is liable? As for the Mommy bloggers in question. Just how stupid are your readers? You flew or drove to Pampers USA for a pack of Pampers? Two packs? An all expense paid trip for the family? Where did you find the time? Are you just that idealistic as to pack up the family and head off to test diapers? Give everyone a break – go shopping and quit blogging.

  15. Divinediva says

    What I cannot believe is Mommy mongers actually having the guts to come here and comment when it is obvious to everyone what you are all doing.

  16. says

    Have you actually done your research on Pampers? Do you realize that nothing was changed in the diaper? Those are facts plain and simple. I don’t care if YOU don’t view me as a credible resource, but I do have readers that trust my opinion, and I DO care about my readers.

    • Mihaela Lica says

      Facts are that every child reacts differently to a product. Pampers are NOT organic, they DO used chemicals in their composition. Some children can be affected. If Dry Max had a bad batch (which could be millions of diapers at once) that is a possible explanation.

      But this is not the issue. I am not discussing the Dry Max product. I am discussing a PR strategy. Again, in plain English, choosing people who usually endorse their products, was not a credible PR move.

    • Phil Butler says

      Hi Tiffany and others, All I can say is I am glad Pampers does not have oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico. They would be telling America the million barrels of oil killing the Gulf was actually only a seagull flock that pooped in the water. Then unwitting Mommy bloggers would exclaim; “Oh my, little Johnny loves his Pampers so much he eats them when he is done.”

      Always,
      Phil

  17. Mihaela Lica says

    Tiffany, here is a fact: you endorse Pampers as a rule. You are not a credible resource.

    You can come here, cast me out, my facts are way straighter than you understand. I am a PR professional. I am talking from a PR perspective. Involving the four of you was a mistake.

    Of course I realize how concerned Pampers is with the whole situation. But not for the reasons they want you to believe. Recalling all the Dry Max would cost them millions, and more, in brand reputation.

  18. says

    I think you need to realize how concerned Pampers is with the whole situation. And unless you were there talking about the concerns, and seeing how things worked, I don’t think that you can make assumptions that we were “bought out.” I think Kate nailed it on the head. We asked a lot of tough questions, and things were broken down on a very real level for us. I also think that just because I didn’t experience a rash with the diaper, doesn’t mean that I can’t relate with moms whose kids have been having rashes. Having two kids myself, I’ve experienced rash more than once and know how painful and sad it can be. I think it’s sad that you aren’t willing to ask questions and get facts before you jump to assumptions.

  19. Mihaela Lica says

    Thank you for clarifying this, Kate. I hope you see why people might doubt Pampers’ choice of bloggers this time. From all the mommies at the meeting you are the only one who experienced any problems with their product. The other participants are self declared Pampers fans. If the reviews of the meeting will be all positive, the credibility of the sources is questionable. I am not sure whether you wrote posts endorsing Dry Max, or any other Pampers product before this…

  20. Kate says

    Talking and listening to my concerns, from the perspective as a mom whose daughter suffered a diaper rash IS talking to an average, angry mom. As you quoted, my mind was not made up about Dry Max before yesterday. I asked tough questions on behalf of myself and other moms and got answers.

    My opinion can’t be bought with a pack of diapers.

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