Motrin’s email response to the onslaught of complaints over babywearing ad

I just received an email from Kathy Widmer, Vice President of Marketing for McNeil Consumer Healthcare, responding to the feedback I left on Motrin’s website last night. Here it is:

Dear Amy –

I am the Vice President of Marketing for McNeil Consumer Healthcare. I have responsibility for the Motrin Brand, and am responding to concerns about recent advertising on our website. I am, myself, a mom of 3 daughters.

We certainly did not mean to offend moms through our advertising. Instead, we had intended to demonstrate genuine sympathy and appreciation for all that parents do for their babies. We believe deeply that moms know best and we sincerely apologize for disappointing you. Please know that we take your feedback seriously and will take swift action with regard to this ad. We are in process of removing it from our website. It will take longer, unfortunately, for it to be removed from magazine print as it is currently on newstands and in distribution.


Kathy Widmer
VP of Marketing – Pain, Pediatrics, GI, Specialty
McNeil Consumer Healthcare

What do you think about this response? I’d love to hear from you.

If you have no idea what this is about, please read my previous posts on the subject:
* Motin’s new ad attacks babywearing, insults moms
* We’ve blogged and tweeted the Motrin ad. What can moms do next?

Also, check out the New York Times article: Moms and Motrin

Update 11/17/08: As of just a bit ago, Motrin posted an apology (see below) on their web site, which is now back up after it was entirely taken down for the night.

“With regard to the recent Motrin advertisement, we have heard you.

On behalf of McNeil Consumer Healthcare and all of us who work on the Motrin Brand, please accept our sincere apology.

We have heard your complaints about the ad that was featured on our website. We are parents ourselves and take feedback from moms very seriously.

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.

Thank you for your feedback. Its very important to us.”

Kathy Widmer
Vice President of Marketing
McNeil Consumer Healthcare

If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to my mailing list.

* indicates required

140 thoughts on “Motrin’s email response to the onslaught of complaints over babywearing ad”

  1. Want to know HOW you get to be a VP at a top ad agency? By NOT being an involved parent! Maybe Kathy Widmer should have asked her nanny what it was like to carry her three daughters around.

  2. Come on… really? Is this really something to get your panties in a wad about?

    I guess if you look tired and crazy, we are just supposed to assume you *are* tired and crazy. Right? Wouldn’t want to assume that motherhood caused any of the tired and crazy look.

    Also, no one should “feel sorry” for the people who built the ad campaign. Likely they just got promotions because of the publicity this gave Motrin and J&J. Even if they lose a few “tired and crazy” customers, they will have gained from the notoriety. As they say in advertising, any publicity is good publicity!

    Oh, and for the one commenter who said “…tone of voice and condensation…”, the word is “condescension”. Not to be condescending myself, but condensation refers to something ENTIRELY different with respect to this topic.

    And lastly, not to take the side of J&J in this, but the apology was clearly well thought-out and forthright. You little tweeters should be grateful that your voice was heard in the first place, so take your apology… and then go take some midol.

    :) OK, that last part was like totally incendiary, but I couldn’t resist. I, myself, am a father of three. And I’ve seen tired and crazy.

  3. I was surprised to hear about your blog this morning in the front page of our local paper (I live in the same town as you). I have read Jeannette LaBlanc’s website “Crunchy” for long before she had her first child (who has to be at least 7) and is certainly one of the earlier and most famed attachment parenting mommy bloggers. I am sure that you have seen it as your name and her topics are so similiar (at least they were when you started your blog).

  4. I believe that J&J responded very well and to the blogging mommies. It was an honest mistake on their part and they are taking ownership of it.

    See Kathy Widmer’s second response to the public on Motrin’s website. I happen to know her very well and for all of you that believe her reponse was unemotional, believe me she took your comments to heart.

    Personal attacks are not necessary as this is the mistake of not only entire marketing department but also the advertising agency they worked with.

    And to Eric’s comment above, any publicity is NOT good publicity. I have worked in both marketing and advertising.

  5. I am one of the mothers who saw the print ad before the internet ad (it was in the November issue of Real Simple to which I subscribe). Truthfully? The print ad wasn’t offensive. I didn’t agree with their decision to highlight the “fashion” aspect but the wording was different.

    When I saw the internet ad I found the tone to be derisive and unflattering. Wearing your baby when done properly will cause you less pain then carrying them in your arms or in a fifteen pound plastic carrier.

    I am not a stay at home mother, in fact I work and go to school and still manage to wear my kids and take a whole three minutes to get on the internet, to add my two cents worth.

  6. why did it happen in the first place just came across this blog , even though the vp apologized and states she is a mother of 3 who was the one that okayed this to go through if it was this vp why didnt she catch on first , she must have thought it was fine until all the outrage came about, you would think a company of that magnitude would have focus groups too
    give opinions, this campaign should never of happened …… excuses…….

  7. It’s a good response and it shows that even big companies can’t afford the negative publicity these days. as a small business owner who sells ultrasound supplies I think it’s imperative that we always maintain a positive reputation. After all, in our current economic landscape, we have to do all we can to keep our clients satisfied.

  8. This is a great and nice read. Your blog is written in a way that it’s so easy to read and understand. I’m a lover of your site. Thank you for sharing this data.

  9. It’s a interesting to see and it proves that larger companies these days must take the public’s opinion into consideration to avoid negative perceptions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.