Monday, November 17, 2008

Social Media Takes A Toll On Motrin

If you follow any Mom blogs or you're on Twitter, it was hard to miss the social media madness around the latest Motrin ad from yesterday and today. Many baby wearing mothers were clearly offended by the Motrin ad which suggests baby wearing can give you back or shoulder pain, and they've made their voices heard—via blogs and Twitter. As far as I can tell, this whole uproar started sometime Saturday afternoon and by mid day today, Motrin had pulled the ad from their homepage and put up an apology letter. Wow.



I'm not a mom, so I really don't fit the demographic they're appealing to here, but I get the tongue-in-cheek humor Motrin was going for. As a creative in the industry, I don't think I would have guessed this ad would offend so much and cause the ruckus that it caused, but at the same time I can see exactly where some of the problems lie.

The art direction is fabulous. I love the technique, though it seems to be a bit trendy at the moment, and the typography and illustration styles are wonderful. The offensiveness comes from a few turns of phrases: in theory it's a good idea, supposedly it's a real bonding experience, etc. They're just a bit too condescending.

There are countless blog posts ranting against this ad as well as the occasional one defending it, and you can view all the Twitter chatter with the #motrinmoms hash tag if you'd like to follow the social media storm.

What do you think? How has social media changed this uproar? Did it blow a little thing into an overboard uproar, giving Motrin some seriously bad PR? Or is it giving Motrin the feedback, and PR, its offensive ad deserves?

10 comments:

Michael Bailey said...

Blown out of proportion - there's nothing condescending about it. There's no scientific proof related to bonding, and Motrin is not here to advocate for baby-wearing - they said simply that it's being done, and some people have back pain.

Beyond that, a few noisy chatterbots blew it was out of line.

Mark said...

The ad reeks of being written by people who are not parents. Motrin deserves to be pilloried. And they were. Ahhhh...justice.

Christine said...

We just had a comment on our Brooke Shields VW ad post comparing the two. This Motrin ad has gotten far more press. Why do you think that is?

Megan said...

Even if moms offended by the VW Routan boom ads like myself put up a stink, using social media or not, VW is probably less likely to apologize and more likely to brush it off and let their spots run as is. It's a lot easier and would make far more impact for moms and their friends to stop buying Motrin, a $5 grocery store purchase, than a highly involved vehicle purchase we weren't inclined to make anyway.

Megan said...

Though that doesn't mean I wouldn't love to give VW a piece of my mind. What was my twitter log-in again?

Mark said...

The VW stuff is clearly meant to be a farcical spoof. The Motrin stuff is clearly an attempt at saying between the lines, we're-so-in-tune-with-you-that-we-can-speak-your-secret-mind. Turns out the creators of the Motrin effort were not in tune.

Charles said...

People can and will be offended by just about anything, the larger point is (warranted or not) a grassroots movement started on the internet - and Motrin wasn't clued in enough to notice until it got large enough to snowball into a PR nightmare. If anything, I find it funny that such an inoffensive commercial is the one that served to teach them this lesson.

Anonymous said...

"Markets are conversations." --The Cluetrain Manifesto

If two baby-wearing mothers were talking to each other and one said exactly what's being said in the ad, the other mother probably wouldn't have taken much (if any) offense. That doesn't, however, mean that the ad isn't truly offensive for saying the same things.

The difference is that the two mothers are having a person-to-person conversation, whereas the ad is company-to-person. As was just mentioned, the company could have been (and still should be) using social media to have person-to-person conversations of its own.

It's like the Pink Floyd song, "What do you dream? It's OK, we told you what to dream." The first sentence is the start of a conversation. The second is what Motrin chose to do instead. The first sentence would be Motrin putting together a social media plan that engages baby-wearing mothers. The second is Motrin pushing out more advertising.

Christine said...

AdAge has an interesting article about Motrin Moms and Motrin's reaction. Was it an overreaction?

Megan said...

That IS an interesting article, Christine. How could Johnson & Johnson have responded without nixing the whole ad?