Yup, I'll admit it. I'm a crazy dog mom. Shamelessly so.
The kind of dog mom who dresses up her pup in a costume (this year a dragon, last year a lobster) and Ubers him to the Halloween parade in downtown Manhattan every year. Who celebrates her fur son's birthday. And yes, the type who actually uses the phrase "fur son."
So when I became a mom mom, to a human this time, I wasn't sure how my spoiled 95-pound fluffball named Sammy would react. He's used to being, at all times, the center of attention. And truth be told, he requires a lot of attention. So how would he react to a new baby? That turned out to be a good question…
Huggies wanted to announce its exclusive Disney 101 Dalmatians designs on Special Delivery diapers hitting shelves this summer.
And since Droga5 launched Huggies' "We Got You, Baby" brand platform last year, we knew we had a big idea on which to build our brand purpose—helping parents navigate the unknowns of babyhood. What if the brand could be there not just to support babies and parents, but fur babies, too?
When you think about it, introducing babies to dogs can be stressful for parents, but it's also overwhelming for pups. There are so many new sounds, smells and toys.
Dog, meet baby. Baby, dog
As we dug into strategy, we recognized that this is a huge milestone every dog parent encounters when they bring their new baby home.
And as more millennial and Gen Z dog parents become baby parents, we could be there to offer support at this very intimate and often stressful time. Even better, we could target a prenatal audience who we know are more likely to build brand affinity at the start of their parenting journey.
So we created the first-ever Huggies Baby Academy for Pups, designed to help pups navigate the unknowns of babyhood.
Arriving at a fresh idea with a solid strategy was just the beginning. Despite our best efforts, none of us speak dog. We needed to find someone who did—fluently.
Together with Kaelin Munkelwitz—new mom, dog mom of 10, and owner and lead trainer of All Things Pup—we developed a training program especially tailored to introduce dogs to new babies. Our calls with Kaelin were both informative and hilarious. She and our creative team discussed things such as what type of meditative music would dogs most respond to, should we spell out T-R-E-A-T-S in the audio to avoid reactive responses, and how to avoid cross-contamination of doggie smells to limit distractions within the space.
The start of a fur-ever friendship
Along with our production partners at Bait Shoppe, we went live with a pop-up activation in Madison Square Park in New York City that was open to the public and just outside the dog park. The training center featured interactive and sensory experiences that exposed pups to all the sights, sounds and all the new gadgets that accompany a new baby. Dogs were greeted by a canine behaviorist from the All Things Pup team, who walked them through each activity, treats in hand.
Inside the Academy, pups relaxed in our Sound Garden, where they were exposed to meditative music, and slowly introduced to baby noises ranging from coos to cah to cries. Next, dogs watched screenings of babies with footage colored for dogs' unique eyesight, all placed at pup-level. Canine participants also had a chance to sniff out common baby items like a stroller, baby bottles and rattles. This activity helped them see, hear and interact with items before "their" baby came home.
@huggies Come boop some snoots at flatiron plaza until 6pm today! #boop #dogsoftiktok #parenttok #fyp #nycevents ♬ Cooking Time - Lux-Inspira
When we were setting up the space, I was reminded of all the stuffed animals (RIP) that Sammy ripped apart while we were setting up my son's nursery. Of course he was confused when all of a sudden our apartment was filled with new toys. And even more puzzling, none of them were for him to rip to shreds…
Congrats to the Pup Class of 2022
We wrapped up the experience with a diaper bar so that new parents could take home the exclusive Disney 101 Dalmatians diapers, compliments of Huggies. And of course, an exterior photo opp so we could congratulate the new graduates of the Baby Academy for Pups with a bag of treats.
But we understood not everyone could come to the pop-up, so we also created a Fur Baby, Meet Baby kit and social series, each featuring tools and experiences that help foster the magical bond between baby and pup. In addition, all the tips and tricks we learned with All Things Pup is available on a digital hub on Huggies.com.
So how did Sammy do when we brought home my son? When we gave him a baby doll to see how he would react, he did as retrievers do and ripped out all the stuffing. Luckily, when our newborn came home, we were able to train him to have better manners. But let's just say he really could have used the Huggies Baby Academy for Pups.