Twitter Swarm: Motrin v. Moms

by Karoli on November 16, 2008 · 28 comments

Memo to Motrin:

Before you launch an ad on your site that’s targeting mothers of babies, you might want to run it by some focus groups that have…um…moms with babies.

There’s a problem with your first video: It does everything but slap your audience in the face, deride them for their (very personal) parenting choices with regard to their babies, and leaves the sense that you have some superior knowledge to theirs.

I mean, seriously…implying that putting their baby in a sling is ‘accessorizing’ is pretty insulting to the audience you want to reach.

You’d have done better to aim at their diaper bags or infant seats with handles that require one-handed schlepping. But hammering on moms for wearing baby slings? That’s just stupid.



The firestorm began 15 hours or so ago, when Jessica Gottlieb sent this:

This tweet was in response to someone else asking her why anyone would want to buy Motrin when generic was cheaper. (I have an answer to that, but will save it for another day…)

Now check out this Twitscoop graph for the term Motrin:

Here’s the thing: These moms are pissed, and they’re pissed because it was a stupid ad that obviously wasn’t run by anyone they hoped to target. Further, these are smart, savvy, network-connected moms who understand exactly what voice they have, particularly as consumers.

To quote Jessica again, they’re using their “outside voices”. And they mean it.

Had the folks who created this ill-conceived PR campaign thought for half a second, or had a clue about how Twitter works, they would already have been reaching out to the community, asking about how they handled pain, how they did it while nursing, what they most loved about being new moms, what they most wished could be different, what tools they wanted but don’t currently have.

Instead, these geniuses launched a program to run on National Babywearing Week (I kid you not), designed and created to be insulting and derisive to the people they want to reach with their product.

Worse yet, they weren’t monitoring Twitter or tracking their brand. If they were, they’d have known the following:

  • I suggested Motrin to a Twitter friend suffering from a back spasm
  • I routinely suggest it for sinus headaches
  • Within an hour of Jessica Gottlieb’s first tweet, Twitter had a HUGE swarm around the term Motrin and the tag #motrinmoms (though I think hashtags are limiting and unnecessary, go try it on twitter search).

More harm was done to the Motrin brand by this campaign than I could even imagine. If Johnson & Johnson is smart, they will fire the folks who came up with this, hire some people who understand the power of the network, and reach out with some really, really sincere apologies.

As many of the moms have pointed out, this campaign takes aim at women who are already at their most vulnerable, struggling to manage a newborn, hormones, change in their lives and everyone giving them advice. They surely don’t need their choices dissed by product manufacturers asking that same audience to buy their product.

Watch the reaction here:

Some other reactions from women much closer to babywearing age than I:

These women get it. Motrin, you didn’t. Time to mend some fences, I’d say.

Twitter Track: Last seen 176 days, 20 hours, 27 minutes ago. Bring. it. back.

Bonus Link: Microcasting

  • mark

    As a middle aged, non baby wearing, dude (and the person with the back spasm referred to in the post, I think), I must say that Motrin has not only managed to offend the influential moms on Twitter, but me too. Companies that are still not paying attention to social media at this point in the game are too stupid to trust with my back pain. Sorry Motrin, better apologize real soon & rethink the game plan.

  • hardaway

    Shocking. I looked at that ad, listened to the tone of voice, and can't believe someone let that go through. That was the most condescending, disrespectful, nay, disgusting ad I have seen in quite a while. More than a lapse in taste. An effing case study for our conference next week. Thank God for social media and the fact that #Motrinmoms have a way to respond. Interestingly, the ad is still up. That means no one is monitoring the brand.

    BTW I painlessly wore both my babies. Started in front, shifted to the back. 37 years later, I'm still walking and I NEVER take ibuprofin. So there, Motrin.

  • Karoli

    I “wore” all of my kids too….was surprised there was even any controversy
    around that. Big heavy handbags, kids' backpacks, infant seats? All fair
    game. Not baby slings. Especially not on a week celebrating them.

  • editormom

    Geez! What f-ing idiots the Motrin people are! No wonder parents are pissed off. My husband and I both wore our babies, and we didn't have back or neck pain. And it sure as hell WAS a bonding experience. Have any of the dweebs at that company even ever been parents?!

  • MK (Casey) van Bronkhorst

    I am still finding it difficult to believe that a major pharma brand would approve something like this ad that appears designed to mock and offend a wide slice of their demographic. Snide doesn't sell – in fact, in this case, snide may well cost them dearly. My Motrin bottle is in the trash, and the trash goes out tomorrow morning.

  • tweetip

    #motrinmoms ~ 1st Tweets ~ timeline & chart

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  • JeanineP

    Personally I don't see the big deal, 95% of what advertisers put in their ads is crap anyway. This just sounds like someone trying to make an issue out of something that is a large non-issue. We have many much more important issues these days. Just take some Motrin and deal with it!

  • Karoli

    LOL! Seems like it would have been better to spend all that money making an
    ad that would encourage purchase of the product rather than damaging the
    brand. It didn't give me any pain, but then,neither did wearing my kids in a

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  • Greg Smith

    Wow. What an outpouring. Who organised the Motrin moms? My wifes carried all three of ours in a back sling. No pain. We still carry our little dog in a slign … and on the motorbike.

  • tom martin

    Interesting take. You might want to investigate some of the real statistics. You can find them here.

    The statistics indicate that Motrin actually screwed up and pulled too soon. The outrage was really quite confined and a better course of action would have been to engage the community versus running scared.

  • Karoli

    I agree with you and with your post, actually. At the end of my post I
    suggested that they come to the community and have a dialogue. That didn't
    happen. In my opinion, the right thing to do was to pull the ads, have a
    conversation with the community, and then reform the campaign.

    The ad I saw was not appropriate under any circumstances, frankly. It was
    derisive and demeaning. However, the thought behind the campaign itself was
    a good one, and with a different narrative (it was all voice over) it could
    have been a much more effective campaign.

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  • Purelyyours

    Hey tom, thanks for the link I appreciate it!

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  • Baby Slings

    Very nice video!

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