Whether you thought the Motrin ad was off the mark or not, I think it’s safe to say that what happened on Twitter on Nov. 15 and 16 was unprecedented. A group of moms who were collectively offended by a condescending, patronizing and poorly thought out ad that made false statements about babywearing banded together in a very short amount of time resulting in Motrin pulling their ad and issuing an apology.
Contrary to what some may believe, it’s not just been the mommy bloggers who are writing about this (though many are). It’s numerous tech, marketing, advertising and social media bloggers too. Some of these posts include: Social Media Storm Spreads as Motrin Ad Angers Moms by BL Ochman, Motrin: A Case Study in Social Media Marketing by Toby Bloomberg, Moms Give Motrin a Headache by David Armano, The #motrinmoms Lesson by Susan Getgood Motrin learns: Hell hath no fury like baby-wearing moms by Media Caffeine, The Real Problem with the Motrin Ads by Peter Shankman, and How Twittering Critics Brought Down Motrin Mom Campaign by Advertising Age, just to name a few. I can’t tell you the number of times my blog has been linked to in the past 24 hours because I’ve lost count, but I can tell you my hits are through the roof.
I’ve seen a lot of reactions to this both here on my blog and elsewhere around the ‘net. Some people are calling for Motrin employees to be fired and I have to say I think that is a bit extreme. We’ve all been in jobs where we’ve made mistakes (um, especially in the job of being Mom) and, hopefully for our sake, we weren’t fired as a result. With the economy the way it is, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
Others are saying that the moms overreacted or that moms should be using their power for greater causes and that we wasted their time on this one. First of all I believe that we all have different causes that speak to us. If everyone supported the same thing, what a boring world this would be. Secondly, who’s to say what other causes we are active in supporting? Who’s to say we can only devote our energy to one cause at a time? I know many of the moms on Twitter are activists and involved in causes that speak to them, just as I am. Why should we have to justify why something speaks to us and why we feel motivated to act on it? If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
I think the fact that moms were able to band together as quickly as they did demonstrates (once again) that women, and moms in particular, are a force to be reckoned with. And ya know what? We all have to start somewhere. Who’s to say that a mom who was a part of the Motrin thing won’t feel empowered to take on something bigger next time? My first foray into activism a few years ago involved emailing Target about a shirt that had a message I didn’t agree with. Target pulled the shirts from its racks. Similarly to what’s going on now, there were many nay-sayers, but I learned a few valuable lessons: that there is power in numbers and that it’s important to stand up for the things you believe in, no matter how small they may seem. I’ve gone on to become an activist for other things. Most recently, it was volunteering for the Obama campaign and making phone calls to voters in my battleground state of Colorado and I wasn’t the only mom involved. Does that count as a “greater cause?” Who knows what we’ll tackle next. ;)
Personally, I was pleased to see that Motrin issued an apology and pulled the ad. I don’t believe the ad ever should have been made public though. I hope that Motrin/Johnson & Johnson and other companies that want to market to moms have learned that being involved in social media is important, if not crucial, and perhaps they will run future ads by a group of moms from diverse backgrounds to give it a test run. I feel fairly confident that if they had shown the babywearing ad to a handful of moms (both babywearers and non-babywearers), there would have been some negative reactions and it would have caused them to rethink it.
Did I mention that this is International Babywearing Week? Oh, Yes. It Is. (Not good timing for Motrin, eh?)
Babywearing International has issued a response to Motrin. Part of the response asked McNeil Consumer Healthcare to help right the wrongs.
Babywearing International, Inc., calls upon McNeil Consumer Healthcare to counter the effects of this offensive ad campaign in the following ways:
- Completely discontinue the campaign by not allowing any further publication of it in any media;
- Undertake an equally prominent campaign that portrays babywearing mothers as the savvy parents and consumers they actually are;
- Undertake an equally prominent campaign that explains the proven benefits of babywearing and directly counters the portrayal of babywearing as painful or as a practice that makes babywearing mothers cry;
- Undertake a campaign to educate healthcare providers as well as patients about the research-proven benefits of babywearing. In fact, babywearing makes mothers more confident and results in fewer tears for both mothers and children.
Recognizing that Motrin is a brand that has heretofore been mother-friendly as well as child-friendly, Babywearing International would consider assisting Motrin in partially repairing the recent damage to its image by having Motrin’s collaboration in our Medical Outreach Campaign, through which we provide research-based information to medical doctors, counselors, and parents concerning the health benefits of babywearing.
I’d love to see Motrin respond to Babywearing International and take them up on their offer for assistance.
Lastly, here are two good examples of what Motrin could have chosen to do with the ad, which would have saved them time, money and yes, many, many headaches.
- Julie Roads: If I had written the Motrin ad
- And from Jane Chin: Motrinmoms: How that Motrin web ad should be done
And to think all of this began with one little tweet: “hey babywearers, have you seen Motrin’s new ad campaign bashing babywearing??!” Who could have predicted the outcome? Not me.
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