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

Kathy Widmer
VP of Marketing – Pain, Pediatrics, GI, Specialty
McNeil Consumer Healthcare
215-273-8192
kwidmer@mccus.jnj.com

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.”

Sincerely,
Kathy Widmer
Vice President of Marketing
McNeil Consumer Healthcare

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We’ve blogged and tweeted the Motrin ad. What can moms do next?

The blogosphere and Twitterverse are all a buzz with Motrin’s condescending ad regarding babywearing moms. If you missed the hullabaloo, you can read my post from yesterday about it.

Women control the household spendingMoms might be wondering, apart from spreading the word about this (which we’ve already done an awesome job of) and contacting Motrin, what else can we do?

According to 2005 Wow! Quick Facts Book —United States Census Bureau: As women, we control 80% of our household spending and even more relevant in this case, women buy 75 percent of all over-the-counter medications.

Here’s my suggestion, you can start by boycotting Motrin, but before you reach for a bottle of Tylenol instead, read on. Johnson & Johnson owns both Motrin AND Tylenol, so if you truly want to boycott them, you need to avoid both. My suggestion is to buy GENERIC. I use generic Ibuprofen for my migraines and it works just as well as a name brand…and it’s cheaper! Saving a few dollars here and there is something everyone can appreciate in the current economy. If you buy generic, READ THE LABEL. It’s possible that a generic drug could be made by the same company that makes the name brand, but the only way to verify that is to read the fine print. I just checked my bottle of “Wal-Profen” and it says right on there, “This product is not manufactured or distributed by Wyeth Consumer Healthcare, owner of the registered trademark Advil Tablets. Distributed by Walgreen Co.”

Another alternative is buying Advil (which is also Ibuprofen), although then you won’t likely save any money. I just did a quick check of Advil’s site and although they definitely target moms in their advertising, they say Advil can be used for “Backache from carrying the baby,” which is arguably different than backache from wearing the baby, which Motrin espouses.

Motrin didn’t do their research before they ran this ad, but we will do ours and we will vote with our dollars.

Edited to add: I received a few comments from women who suggested contacting your local and national media outlets as well. I think that’s good advice and I encourage you to do that. Let’s spread the word further and hopefully affect some change in the way companies market to moms.

Update – Motrin responds and removes online ad: Motrin’s email response to the onslaught of complaints over the babywearing ad. In light of Motrin’s quick response and ad removal, I’m no longer advocating for an all-out boycott. If individuals choose to do so, fine, (and I’ll keep buying generic meds) but I’m not trying to organize a boycott at this time.

Motrin’s new ad attacks babywearing, insults moms

Have you seen the new online Motrin ad? You know, the one where they attack babywearing and insult moms in an effort to sell their drugs? Watch it here (at least until they take it down) or it’s also on YouTube.

Motrin, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?? Oh yeah, you weren’t.

Thanks to Barb for typing out the video verbatim:

In case they pull the ad from their front page by the time you’re reading this (I sure hope they trash the entire campaign, and fast), I’m quoting the little video on their website front page, which they call a “Mom-versation“. The phrases in bold are my emphasis, though they have even better emphasis in the graphics in their ad.

Wearing your baby seems to be in fashion.

I mean, in theory it’s a great idea.

There’s the front baby carrier, sling, schwing, wrap, pouch.

And who knows what else they’ve come up with. Wear your baby on your side, your front, go hands free.

Supposedly, it’s a real bonding experience.

They say that babies carried close to the bod tend to cry less than others.

But what about me? Do moms that wear their babies cry more than those who don’t?

I sure do!

These things put a ton of strain on your back, your neck, your shoulders. Did I mention your back?!

I mean, I’ll put up with the pain because it’s a good kind of pain; it’s for my kid.

Plus, it totally makes me look like an official mom.

And so if I look tired and crazy, people will understand why.

Here’s the response I just emailed them:

Motrin’s new ad campaign targeting babywearing is offensive, disrespectful and wrong on so many levels. If a mom is experiencing significant pain from wearing her baby, then she needs to adjust her carrier/sling or try another one. Babywearing has so many proven benefits to both mom and baby and women have been wearing babies since the beginning of time. Stop disrespecting us moms, Motrin. Unlike our babies, we weren’t born yesterday and we will take our $ elsewhere.

Me with Julian (2 wks old) in the MobyPersonally, I LOVED wearing my kids. My favorite carrier was the Ergo, though I also really liked the Moby Wrap. I loved having them close and safe, especially out in crowds and when I wanted to be able to get around easily without lugging a stroller. Oh yeah and there was the time I was able to nurse my son hands-free while he was in the Moby and we were out for a walk in the middle of winter without taking him out into the cold. That was pretty cool. :)

Does the Motrin ad bother you? Let Motrin know what you think. Contact Motrin and then feel free to boycott them (Johnson & Johnson owns both Motrin and Tylenol). I happen to go through a lot of Ibuprofen because I get migraines on a regular basis, but I use generic Ibuprofen and it works just fine and is cheaper too!

Edited to add:
If you weren’t on Twitter Saturday night, you missed the onslaught of comments about the Motrin ad, but Katja Presnal at Ladybug Landings summed it up nicely in the video she made including many of the Tweets in response to Motrin: Motrin Makes Moms Mad. There are even a few pics of me wearing Julian in there, and one of Ava wearing her baby doll. :) (Ava was soo happy to be included in the video. Thanks, Katja!)

Also, please check out my follow-up post: We’ve blogged and tweeted the Motrin ad. What can moms do next?
And lastly, Motrin responds and removes online ad: Motrin’s email response to the onslaught of complaints over the babywearing ad

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The chicken, the egg, and the children

Wednesday night I went to a meeting about a proposed city ordinance to allow backyard hens in residential areas. Although my city was formerly a farming community, hens and other livestock are currently only allowed in areas zoned for agriculture. I’m interested in having backyard hens myself as a way to live more sustainably and because I feel it would be great for my kids. A teacher who attended the meeting, while pleading her case in favor of the hens, said she’s had students that didn’t know a hamburger came from cows. That got me wondering, how many of today’s children really have no idea where their food comes from?

Penny, a New Zealand mother of two who blogs at Walking Upside Down, reinforced the point when she mentioned her son’s kindergarten teacher told her she once took a class to farm growing cabbages and the kids asked, “Who put them there?” Penny said, “I was so surprised there were kids in my area who didn’t know where veges came from!”

Belinda Moore, who writes Home Grown says, “Children need to know their food, be connected to it. Even if you’ve never grown anything before, learn beside your little ones. Sharing this knowledge now could foster a lifelong interest in gardening, a forgotten skill that some day could become vitally important once again.”

I feel fortunate that we live in an area where we have access to local farms so that my children can see how different fruits and vegetables grow and that they don’t just appear in the grocery store. We also planted a garden for the first time this year and they were able to experience something growing from just a seed into a vegetable we could eat for dinner. Those kinds of experiences, I believe, are important to give our children.

Another thing I appreciate is having access to local free-range eggs. I recently discovered a family farm a few miles from my home, Ollin Farms, that sells fresh, free-range organic eggs every Wednesday morning. The problem is, as I’ve come to discover on more than one occasion, you have to be waiting at the farm stand when they open at 10 a.m. in order to make sure you get your eggs. They only have a limited supply and they sell out fast. Just this week I went to pick up a dozen for both me and my friend Alison. Julian and I arrived at 10:15 a.m. and the eggs were already sold out. According to the farmer they only had 7 dozen this week because their older hens are slowing down production for the winter and their younger chicks still have another month or so to mature before they start laying eggs. Seven dozen in one week is just not enough to keep up with demand.

That is just one of the reasons that I would like to be able to own a few hens of my own. Not only would I like the organic, free-range eggs (which are far healthier than factory-farmed eggs), I would like to expose my children to the experience of caring for animals and to get better acquainted with their food. My daughter Ava, 4 years old, has already told me with pride on numerous occasions that she will be the one who collects the eggs every day.

Owning your own chickens is also better for the environment. According to Meg Hamill who writes for Planet Save, “Making backyard chickens legal is a good move for cities interested in reducing their ecological footprint. Urban chickens provide a local source of eggs, meat and manure.”

Ever since the proposed backyard hen ordinance came about several months ago, it has received a lot of attention here and quickly became a very contentious subject. There are several people in favor of the ordinance, most of them interested in knowing where there food comes from (these are also the folks who grow their own tomatoes and other veggies), and in living more sustainably. There are also a good number of people who are opposed to it, citing concerns like smell, noise, unhealthy for children to be around, increased predators, decreased property values, etc.

It was the mention of chickens being unhealthy for children to be around that piqued my interest. Although a physician who was present at the meeting dispelled those concerns, I decided since I know quite a few people, both in person and on the ‘net, who raise chickens and have children, it was worth it to ask them about their personal experiences too.

My sister-in-law Jennifer who lives in Kansas with her husband and 8 children, as well as numerous chickens, a cow, some pigs and goats told me, “Some people think that the feather mites that chickens have are a problem, but they are not transferable to humans. Any pet that is not cared for well or cleaned up after obviously poses a health risk of some kind, be that cats, dogs, rabbits, etc.”

I think that is the real concern in our city. People are understandably concerned about the few folks who won’t be responsible chicken owners and either won’t care for their hens properly and/or won’t clean up after them. While I’m sure there will be a few bad apples, I say why not cross that bridge if and when we come to it? Let’s trust in our neighbors that they will do the right thing rather than assume the worst right off the bat. I believe most of the people who want to get backyard hens want to do it for the same reasons that I do and will likely be responsible hen-owners.

When properly cared for and cleaned up after, chickens should not pose health risks, and from what I heard from several people I asked, kids can’t get enough of them.

Sarah with a chickenMy sister-in-law Jennifer said:

Our kids love their chickens. I don’t know that chickens should be a petted-type pet, but ours certainly are. My children love carrying them around. They have put chickens in a swing Andrew holds a chickenbefore (not sure the chicken liked that so much, but she didn’t throw a fit either). We get so much enjoyment from watching them. They go nuts for watermelon rind and tomato scraps and everyone in the house loves to check for eggs. They have found new and creative places to lay their eggs and thus we often have to hunt for them. It’s Easter every day at our house!

Angela from Rahn Family Blog told me her daughter Shraddha spends hours with their chickens. She’s got some adorable pictures of her daughter with her “babies.” “I never realized how much fun we would have with chickens. We are always so excited to run out and feed them leftovers and they jump all over us in excitement whenever we come to visit…especially when leftover oatmeal is with us.”

Amber from Berlin’s Whimsy writes the Chicken Chronicles about her little flock. In her post Chicken Therapy she relates how she and her two kids have been too busy to spend time observing their chickens lately and they all miss it.

We miss our chickens. We see them fairly often but it isn’t the same as walking out to the chicken house in the morning and watching them flee from their confinement—-a spectacle of legs, wings, and squawks, leaving feathers floating in the air. I especially long for sitting outdoors with a bit of knitting while absent-mindedly watching our chickens interact with one another, listening to their chicken conversations. As much as it is amusing, it’s just about the best prescription for stress relief—-another lesson in simplicity. I know it sounds odd, but until you’ve tried it, you just won’t understand.

Monica Brand, a home schooling mom to two girls and two boys, shares a picture of three of her kids, the Chicken Wranglers.

Leslie, from Recycle Your Day says her little boy loves having chickens.

Tristan loves to go every morning and feed them and check for eggs. He always crouches down and points to one and says “egg”! It’s really cute. When my niece and nephew come over they love to watch them and my niece will go and retrieve eggs if she see’s one or two! She always asks about them. Kids really find them to be fascinating. I’m happy that Tristan has the opportunity to grow up with chickens and horses. He loves em’ both.

Dawn from Kaiser Alex told me on Twitter that she has fond memories of hatching chicks in an incubator back when she was a kid in elementary school. I asked her how she liked it and Dawn responded, “Well it was 25 years ago and I still remember, so I guess pretty well.”

I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that this ordinance will pass so that we can take the next step in living more sustainably and so my children can have these special kinds of experiences and memories too.

Additional resources:
The City Chicken
Backyard Chickens
Chicken Raising with Toddlers
How to Keep Chickens in the City
Nine Books for Newbies to Urban Chickens
Raising Chickens on an Urban Homestead
Raising Urban Chickens: Part 2 – Building a Coop
Raising Urban Chickens: Part 2A – Building a Coop

Cross-posted on BlogHer. Feel free to check out the discussion over there too. :)

My video blogging (of sorts) debut

Earlier this week I was asked to be a part of a project by Purple States called 50/50/50 – where 50 bloggers, in 50 states respond to questions about the current economic crisis. A new video is added to the site (in alphabetical order by state) for 50 days. There is also an ongoing discussion about the economy and politics in general on the site.

I’ve never done any interviews or video blogging before so this was all new to me (and, I admit, a little nerve-racking at first). I took nearly 20 minutes total video of myself (some recorded between midnight and 1 in the morning(!), when the house was actually quiet LOL and I’m nursing Julian in one of the clips too – can you spot it? Ava even got to “man” the camera in part of it) answering various questions and showing off some of my every day life. It was all edited down to a 2 1/2 minute clip.

Previous projects by Purple States were featured on the Washington Post and New York Times sites, and this particular project has the potential to be picked up by sites like CNN.com, iReport.com and others. I’m excited to be a part of it and honored to have been chosen to represent Colorado.

You can check out my video and those from other states on Purplestates.tv or just watch my video below.

The No Plastic Holiday Challenge

Plastic is all around us. From our kids’ toys to their sippy cups, from grocery bags to Tupperware bowls, from furniture to toothbrushes. That’s not even including all of the plastic involved in packaging – from food to appliances to toys to clothing. Plastic is everywhere and while it’s not good for our health, it may be even worse for our environment, so this holiday season I am challenging all of you to become more aware of your plastic consumption and make conscious choices to avoid plastic whenever possible.

Consider this information from Plastic Bag Free.com:

  • Plastic production uses 8% of all the world’s oil production.
  • At the current rate the world produces 200 million tons of plastic a year. Less than 3.5% is recycled. In other words, 96% of all the world’s plastic is not recycled.
  • The world plastic production is increasing at 3.5% per year. This means every 20 years the amount of plastic we produce doubles.
  • The world produces over 200 million tons of plastic annually. Around half of this is used for disposable items of packaging that are discarded within a year. This debris is accumulating in landfill and the problem is growing.
  • Plastics do not biodegrade, they photo degrade, breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil, waterways, oceans and entering the food web when ingested by animals.
  • The dawn of the plastic era was in 1950s. This was when we first started to use plastic for consumer goods on a mass scale.
  • Scientists estimate each plastic item could last in the environment anywhere between 400 to 1000 years.
  • In short, since the 1950’s almost every piece of plastic that we have ever made, used and thrown away is still here on this planet in one form or another, whether its in our homes, in landfill or in the environment; and it will be here for centuries to come.
  • Worldwide, at least 143 marine species are known to have become entangled in marine debris (including almost all of the world’s species of sea turtles) and at least 177 marine species (including 95% of all the world’s sea birds) have eaten plastic litter.

Additionally, Plastic Bag Free.com reports,

People often ask, “What is the most concerning form of plastic marine debris? Is it discarded fishing nets (ghost nets), is it plastic bags, is it six-pack rings?”
The truth is it’s everything plastic in the ocean. All plastic breaks down into particles. It does not dissolve; it just breaks into tiny pieces and stays there. At this size it is small enough to be ingested by every single organism in the world’s oceans – animals as small as krill and salps (plankton feeders) right up to the great Blue Whale. These particles known as oceanic microplastics are now so prolific in the oceans that they outweigh plankton. In some large areas it is at a ratio of 30 to 1 (so 30 times more plastic than plankton) and the problem is growing fast.

Disturbing? Yes. Frightening? Sure. Hopeless? No. While we may not be able to do anything about the plastic that is already in the environment, the choices we make today will affect our future as well as our children’s and our grandchildren’s. This needs to be a collective effort. Remember, we vote with our dollars. The more we buy plastic products, the more plastic will be manufactured. Conversely, the more we buy sustainable products, the more sustainable products will be made.

The Challenge
I challenge all of you to do something about the growing plastic problem. When shopping for gifts this holiday season, try to find alternatives to plastic items AND look for items that don’t come with excessive plastic packaging.

Of course I’m not going to tell you, “Plastic is everywhere” and then say “Don’t buy it!” without giving you some suggestions on how you can avoid it, because I try to be helpful like that. Here are several suggestions to help you with this challenge.

Homemade Gifts
Kalyn Denny wrote 10 Great Homemade Food Gifts, and No Cooking Required for Some! with a wide variety from cookies and biscotti to meals in a jar and pet treats.

Over at Lighter Footstep there Ten Elegant, Inexpensive Handmade Holiday Gift Ideas including homemade bath salts, holiday wreaths, reusable fabric shopping bags and home-canned fruits.

Kit Bennett has tips for Making Gifts on a Budget over at Amazing Moms.

If you don’t want to make the gifts yourself but like the idea of purchasing something homemade, check out Pledge Handmade where people can “Pledge to buy handmade this holiday season, and request that others do the same for me.”

Of course, one great place to find homemade items is Etsy. I can’t say that you won’t find anything crafted out of plastic there, because that’s just not true, but many things containing plastic have been upcycled. According to Wikipedia, “‘Upcycling is the practice of taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value.’ This process allows for the reduction of waste and use of virgin materials.”

Buy From Women
Over at Tip Junkie, is the 2008 Holiday Mom-preneur Shop-a-thon, where “the challenge is to buy your gifts from women & fellow bloggers.” “With so many struggling with the economy, we have the combined power and influence to make a difference in these women’s lives and give their families a wonderful holiday. All while enjoying their fabulous products in our own homes and those of our loved ones.” There are over 200 women-owned stores listed here in a wide variety of categories.

Also, over at Thoughtfully Simple is the Pledge to Buy Mom-Made challenge, where mompreneurs can leave a link along with a coupon code if they like to their store in the comments.

Eco-Friendly Gifts
Over at Green and Clean Mom, Sommer reviews the book Green Christmas which “gives some great suggestions on involving my family in the green Christmas movement. Suggesting ideas on cutting energy, reducing the waste of wrapping paper, recycling gifts and reducing the number of gifts given and received.” She’s also giving a copy of the book away.

At Modern Eco Homes, Kristen Banker wrote Top Eco-Friendly Charities and Fair Trade Gift Sites.

Give to humankind, and the betterment of life on earth, or to someone else’s life, which will make a mark on your own heart and soul. Giving charitable donations creates a feeling unlike any other. Buying from websites that give back to indigenous communities, creates a global unity. Just knowing that you are doing a small part to better this earth we inhabit makes all the difference in the world.

At Peekaboo, Caryn Bailey highlights some fabulously green gift ideas for moms and tots.

Reduce Plastic Packaging
Beth from Fake Plastic Fish wrote a great post with ideas on how to cut back on plastic packing materials too. Some of her suggestions include: “When ordering online, request zero plastic and Styrofoam packaging specifically” and “Find ways to wrap gifts without paper or tape.”

What do you think? Avoiding plastic doesn’t sound quite so hard now, does it? Are you game to give the challenge a try? Leave a comment below if you will take the No Plastic Holiday Challenge and I’ll add your name (and blog URL if you have one) to a list in my sidebar of challenge participants. Feel free to grab the button above to put on your blog (or email me if you need the code). I don’t expect perfection on this challenge, but I’m going to give it my best shot and I hope you will too. Don’t forget to take your reusable bags shopping with you!

Related blogs and posts:

Cross-posted at BlogHer