Babycare brand WaterWipes is hoping to tackle some of the taboos around the realities of parenthood and disrupt the “perfect parent, perfect baby” traditions of the category.
Marking the Irish brand’s first global campaign, #ThisIsParenthood challenges the myriad adverts parents are used to seeing where everything is “soft focus, rosy cheeks and saccharine sweet,” and instead shows an “honest” and less-than-picture-perfect view of parenting.
“As a brand we have always had a very straight forward approach to everything and a strong focus on honesty and purity,” WaterWipes CMO Cathy Kidd tells Marketing Week.
“This campaign was a manifestation of that; simply being honest about parenthood. At the heart of it is the idea that an awful lot of parents across the world, no matter what culture or ethnicity or gender you’re coming from, there’s an expectation that the second you become a parent you know exactly how to do it. We wanted to break that myth and start some conversations that were more about the reality.”
The campaign, made by creative agency The Brooklyn Brothers, consists of a collection of intimate narratives across 86 parents. It follows the first year of parenthood, covering a range of hard-to-talk-about topics such as bonding, relationships between parents, and the highs and lows of the first few weeks.
These stories were created in response to a global study of more than 13,000 parents that showed over half of parents feel like they’re failing in their first year. They are captured in a 16-minute documentary directed by BAFTA nominated director Lucy Cohen, 13 short films, 36 Instagram story films and a suite of photography.
While WaterWipes is of course hoping to dial up the competition with bigger players such as Pampers and Huggies, Kidd says the brand “doesn’t obsess” over what the competition is doing and ultimately the aim is to start conversations.
“We thought we had a role in changing the conversation and that might start with the humble brand but our hope is that that plays out in conversations in consumers’ daily lives and in culture,” she says. “That’s what we’re trying to do, it’s not driven by an obsession to beat a competitor, it’s more a manifestation of our approach.”
On top of social activity, where parenting influencers will play a key role, the campaign includes hero out-of-home placements across stations in the UK and a feature piece in Times Square. WaterWipes will also aggregate the user-generated content around the project on its channels and set out the bigger ambition of ‘#ThisIsParenthood’ on a website hub.
The earned-first approach reflects the size of the brand and its budget. However, while a more traditional approach such as a TV campaign might have helped to build awareness, Kidd says “that was never the ambition”.
“What we’re trying to do is have people understand more about why we’re different and understanding takes a different marketing model; it’s not just awareness but rather having them really know and love us,” she explains.
“To a certain extent, from a commercial perspective, we were always aware that playing their game and doing the traditional thing, we are never going to win at that. We don’t have the budget and it’s not true to who we are. What we’re doing more than anything is putting our trust in the consumers – of course in the idea too – that we are the catalyst for conversations and where they go and continue is up to them.
“We hope we’ve brought this to life in a way that is relevant to consumers’ lives but also in society.”
Alongside a number of consideration metrics around understanding, social advocacy will be a “key metric for success”. Kidd says where the brand goes next will depend on which conversations resonate the most with consumers.