I just did a spit take with my morning coffee, splattering liquid on my computer screen. It happened because Pete Sawin, the brand director for Pull-Ups at Kimberly-Clark, claimed that parents are “seeking more milestone moments to celebrate.” We’re having ultrasound parties, my friends. We don’t need any more milestones for pregnancy or for early childhood. We have plenty.
I can understand where Pull-Ups and their parent company, Huggies, are coming from. They’re trying to make the process of potty training seem more exciting, more fun. They built an entire marketing campaign around celebrating your child’s “first flush.” They used a real potty-training family and they surprised them with a parade and marching band, all thrilled that one little boy managed to flush the toilet.
There’s just one problem with this whole advertising scheme. Potty training isn’t fun or exciting. It’s not a big celebration. Potty training means cleaning up pee and poop from your child’s clothing and your furniture whenever there’s an accident. It means hours of standing around in the bathroom, while your child reads books and swings their little legs.
Potty training is a necessity. And it’s one that parents don’t need to push their children in to before the time is right.
It makes sense for Pull-Ups to push parents into starting earlier. The longer you can convince parents to buy training diapers that are double the cost of normal diapers, the better for Huggies’ profit margins. Their idea of acting like the potty training process is super fun and should be started as soon as possible is really an ingenious business decision.
The problem, of course, is that they’re trying to sell a really obvious falsehood. Potty training is not fun. And sure, that first flush feels pretty awesome and exciting. But less than a week later, the process is no longer thrilling. It’s tedious and filled with accidents and takes an intense amount of work for parents.
Huggies is pretending that they’re trying to help parents with potty training. They’re creating tips and tricks and online incentive systems. Parents should be a little more thoughtful though. Are the people who are profiting off of your children’s inability to wear regular underwear really trying to help you stop using their product? No, they aren’t. They want you to start potty training early, so that you’ll spend as much time as possible using their products.
Sorry Huggies. Parents have no reason to get excited about potty training. It’s not fun. And no amount of cheerleaders in a commercial will change that.