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May 14, 2010
P&G Facing a Rash of Diaper Complaints
 

A PR situation to watch is how well Proctor & Gamble Co. handles a social media onslaught against its Pampers brand diapers. Bloomberg reports parents are claiming that Pampers with Dry Max, "the latest iteration of P&G's $9-billion-a-year brand," causes rashes and chemical burns. P&G denies that.

P&G, Bloomberg notes, has riled the "mommy bloggers," a feared group of online influencers.  

The anti-Pampers onslaught includes two class-action lawsuits, filed on May 11 and May 12 in Cincinnati, alleging P&G  “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.”

P&G's initial response was, "While we have great empathy for any parent dealing with diaper rash -- a common and sometimes severe condition -- the claims in this lawsuit are completely false." (Is that too overt a reliance on empathy – walking in another's shoes – using the word itself?)

P&G launched Pampers with Dry Max in March, saying they were Pampers' "biggest innovation in 25 years" -- 20 percent thinner and twice as absorbent as previous diapers. 

In response to the adverse reactions from some parents, Bloomberg reports, P&G has posted to its Facebook page a letter from Pampers Vice President Jodi Allen and a video featuring a pediatrician discussing diaper rash.

Those seem like pretty savvy moves, but on the matter of diaper rash, some parents are offended at what they see as PG seeming to suggest they don't change their babies' diapers frequently enough.

Bloomberg notes that the anti-Pampers campaign began with parents complaining on Facebook that Dry Max Diapers "were causing skin rashes and chemical burns." The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission began an investigation of the Dry Max complaints on May 3. 

It's a tough situation when a company seeks to counter customers' impressions that it has introduced a hazard in their lives. What more do you think P&G might do in a PR bind like this? 


 


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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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