Motrin Ad Makes Moms Mad

Motin Ad

Motin Ad

Johnson & Johnson did manage to offend some mothers with an online and print campaign for Motrin that implied moms carry their babies as fashion accessories. But was it a genuine groundswell that felled the effort — or an alliance of the few, empowered by microblogging service Twitter?   Two days after a new ad push for Motrin triggered an online backlash, J&J’s McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit is pulling the campaign, from the New York office of independent shop Taxi, and begging a vocal mommy-blogging nation for forgiveness. >>Full Story

Thoughts// If you’re still not convinced of the power of social media and our countless examples on this blog, this article is a must read. Motrin recently pulled a campaign for the pain medication that was supposed to connect with moms through the common experience (and pain) of carrying a child. In doing so however, they managed to imply that moms carry their babies as “fashion accessories” to “look like an official mom” and managed to enrage the community.   A deluge of negative response in the blogger community and the twitter community amongst moms resulted in Motrin realizing their error and pulling the campaign.  The culmination of the backlash resulted when a New York blogger and proprietor of online children’s store Skimbaco, featured the tweets from offended moms and produced a YouTube titled “Motrin Ad Makes Moms Mad” (featured below; for those reading on email, click here)

How could Motrin have avoided this fiasco?  With hindsight being what it is, my humble opinion is that they should have taken a page from Pepsi (see our post on Pepsi’s social re-branding efforts).   Specifically:

  1. Before launching a new campaign, why not engage with the folks you’re trying to empathize with?   Talk to groups like Twitter Moms or countless moms who blog and get feedback about what it feels like to carry a child and how they deal with the pain (if any)
  2. Engage them in the creation process; gather the most influential bloggers and twitter users and use them as a “test lab” in the creation process

To Motrin’s credit, the campaign has been taken down and the company issued an immediate apology that’s featured on their website.

“On behalf of McNeil Consumer Healthcare and all of us who work on the Motrin brand, please accept our sincere apology…we are in the process of removing this ad from all media. It will, unfortunately, take a bit of time to remove it from our magazine advertising, as it is on newsstands and in distribution.” – Kathy Widmer, VP of Marketing.

It’s noteworthy that the first Google search result for “Motrin” results in a story about this fiasco.


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