Motrin Campaign Uproar-What Went Wrong?

Photo Courtesy of YouTube

Photo Courtesy of YouTube

Most of you have heard the story by now. There was an uproar over the weekend with the new ad that was pasted on Motrin’s website about the pain that babywearing can cause. In particular, one statement about babywearing on the commercial raised a ton of ire, “… Plus it totally makes me look like an official mom.” (Number one reason to wear your baby, right?)

For over 24 hours, upset mom’s twittered about the commercial and mom bloggers took it from there to some (very influential) mom blogs. Motrin seemed unaware of the situation for the first 24 hours and then, very suddenly on Sunday afternoon, the Motrin website went down and the VP of Marketing sent out emailed apologies to the offended mom bloggers. In the place of the commercial appeared an apology.

Some people are still talking about how offended they are, and of course the commercial has been forever cemented on the Internet via YouTube and various blogs for even more viewing. And today another opinion has come to light-some people think the mom bloggers took it too far.  In fact, it seems that some think mom bloggers responded strictly on emotion and not as businesswomen.

Whether you agree with the commercial and response or not, it is important that people in the marketing world delve into it a little more. As PR and marketing companies, we are forever looking at techniques and tearing them apart in order to be better and provide better services. At least, I am. I will admit that I am glad to NOT be the agency who probably met for endless hours today with Motrin executives.

I cannot tell you for sure what actions the agency took in planning this campaign, as I don’t know. But I can tell you what I would have done-and what I believe would have resulted in a much more solid campaign.

  1. Content is vital. And in case you didn’t get that, here it is again: content is life or death in a campaign. It is important enough to pull all the stops out-before you spend time and money on implementation.
  2. Once content is planned and agreed upon with the client, focus groups are essential. I have a hard time believing that this campaign had any mom focus groups attached to the planning stage, but I could be wrong. I suspect that even a group of 20 moms would have had several protest the messages in this ad. Even using a company to survey moms to preview the commercial first would have been beneficial.
  3. Timing is important. Likely it is no accident, as @jessicaknows noted, that this weekend was the tail-end of International Babywearing Week. Perhaps it was a week of pain for some moms (I know that babywearing caused me some pain but I hear that I might not have had the correct pack, placement, etc.) and Motrin was attempting to address that issue. As far as timing, I would have to agree with their choice for this particular campaign. BUT…
  4. The target market location was wrong. it is my opinion that the market Motrin was seeking for this campaign was young moms. Specifically the comments within the commercial point toward this. However, was the Motrin website the best place to launch the commercial in order to hit that market? I don’t think so. That is not wear they hang. From what I understand, there are also print ads coming out and perhaps they are hitting the right print locations for their market but if not, they will have a tough time reaching them.
  5. Immediate audience reaction was not monitored quickly enough. Peter Shankman (@skydiver) of Help a Reporter Out says that the big mistake came when Motrin or Motrin representatives did not monitor the immediate reaction to the commercial, specifically on the social sites. I agree with this and if I was monitoring for Motrin, I would have had the commercial pulled down within a few hours. In fact, I have to wonder if Motrin got the message from emails pouring in directly to them as opposed to seeing it on the Net. Like it or not, social networking is here, real and important. Even if it is not a part of your actual campaign (it should be, by the way), you must take it into consideration with judging the results of any campaign.

3 thoughts on “Motrin Campaign Uproar-What Went Wrong?

  1. Great post! I agree with everything you said, especially the importance of monitoring the social media sites. As I said in my post, the moms aren’t afraid to speak up for things they feel strongly about, so the companies need to really listen.

  2. Pingback: Motrin Ad Update « Marketing Jewels

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