Last week, we reached out to Beth Balsam, who works for the public relations agency that represents Proctor and Gamble, to respond to the Pampers Dry Max controversy. Here’s what she had to say.
I was kindly invited to post here to provide Pampers point of view, and given that I don’t work directly for Pampers, my first instinct was to cede this space to a Pampers employee. Upon reflection I realized that perhaps I could provide both an outsider’s and a personal perspective that might be helpful to concerned moms and dads.
I’ve worked with Pampers for nearly six years. To those on the outside, it’s a big brand run by corporate America and driven by profit. It’s the same way I might view Coca-Cola, IBM or any other company where I don’t have a personal connection. But in this case, I do have a personal connection.
I know Kerri, the “mom-ventor” who created Dry Max while her son (also known as Dry Max Baby #1) was in diapers. I know the brand manager Kim, who visited my home with her husband and adorable twins last Thanksgiving. I know Jeronimo, who has more pictures of his baby girl on his desk than anyone else I know. I know Patti from Consumer Relations who doggedly chases down any bit of information that can help parents when they call with concerns. I also know Jodi, the General Manager, who has been maligned because she defended the safety of her product. As Jodi’s kids are somewhat older than my own, she’s my go-to mom when I need parenting advice.
I have sat in many meetings over the years where the overriding theme was “how is what we’re doing in service to babies and parents?” Because that truly is the overriding concern of every single person who works at Pampers. The thought that Pampers would release a product that could potentially harm any child is completely unimaginable. They are parents and live for babies. They use the product on their own babies. Every product change is studied and tested in the most comprehensive ways you would hope for as a parent.
The other topic I want to address is the tempting headline of Pampers vs. moms. In fact, this brand and this team exists to be of service to parents. Of course they vigorously defended product safety because they know that to be true. But they did it to be of service to the millions of moms and dads who are safely and effectively using Dry Max, but are starting to get scared because of the online chatter, which, it’s important to note, amounts to a percent of a percent of users.
They also wanted to be of service to the genuinely concerned moms and dads who have joined a Facebook group asking for the old product back. Unfortunately, Jodi’s posts on that site were pulled down by the administrators, as were/are any comments from parents that suggest the diaper is safe.
Pampers very much wants to help moms and dads who are experiencing rash. They have extended customer service hours and have redoubled their efforts, working with moms and their babies, pediatricians and other experts to fully examine each individual situation. They are asking for diapers back to be analyzed, bringing in external pediatric experts to review the data and complaints and even inviting some parents who are experiencing rash to be assessed by a pediatrician and dermatologist. They have requested production codes that are printed in each package, to track down the exact plant, date, hour and minute the diaper was made.
Everything they’ve done has shown that these rashes — while very real for the parents and baby — are not being caused by Pampers with Dry Max.
All that said, Pampers message has always been that moms and dads are in the very best position to know what’s best for their baby. While they stand behind the safety of Dry Max, of course a parent is going to and should pick the product that works best for their baby, be that a Pampers product or the competition. Pampers works hard to make the products that parents choose and will continue to do everything in their power to earn and keep trust.
Now here’s my personal story. I complained bitterly about the change in Cruisers. It was definitely the cause of my daughter’s diaper rash. I was convinced. I yelled at Carlos, the Brand Director every time I saw him. “Give me back the old Cruisers. Take that stupid top sheet off because it’s giving my baby a rash!” Because you see, this happened nearly 5 years ago. The top sheet that parents now love and miss terribly was actually met with the same level of rash complaints when it was introduced 5 years ago. In fact every time Pampers changes their diaper — even if it’s just swapping out the characters on the outside of the diaper — there is a small increase in rash complaints. That’s because diaper rash is unfortunately very common. At any time 1 in 4 babies will have a diaper rash. And 10 % of those cases (amounting to 250,000 babies) will be severe. It makes perfect sense that a parent will blame a new diaper if the rash happens at the same time. It’s exactly what I did 5 years ago. Fortunately, I had access to the right information and found out what the rash was about — it was the introduction of new foods that changed acidity and consistency of my daughter poop. And I was a happy Cruisers mom for the next two years.
Let me close by saying that if your baby is having a rash, I feel for you! Nothing is worse than seeing your child in pain or discomfort. I really encourage you to call Pampers at 1-877-256-3265 because they want to hear from you and they can help!
Thanks for allowing me this space. If you have any questions, I will check back in and post replies.