How to Avoid Your Own "Motrin Moms" Headache

Posted by Chris Kieff on November 18th, 2008

Over the weekend, Motrin launched an advertising campaign that has raised a strong backlash in the blogosphere. By yesterday, they had pulled the ad.  In a nutshell, the story is that the Motrin ad campaign talked about the pain resulting from “wearing your children” in a carrying pouch type of device.  Many moms took offense to the ad and labeled it as insulting and condescending.  We’re not going to get into the fray with this- it’s not our place.  If you want to read up on it here are some of the top links: Mashable Twitter Search Marketing Magic Blog Marketing Pilgrim

How to Avoid Social Media Headaches

Could being more deeply involved in social media have prevented this catastrophe for Motrin?  Let’s look at the advantages of that:

  • An open communications channel with your client base and specifically with the target group.
  • The ability to detect and react more quickly to adverse news.
  • Having established a dialog with thought leaders before bad news breaks.
  • Having staff familiar with the “lay of the land” in the social media sphere.
  • Being ready and available to communicate when thought leaders like Bloggers have questions.

It’s not likely that simply being involved in social media would prevent the problems that Motrin had. But having a good social media base to work from may have allowed Motrin to do some things differently to avert the problem.  Our ad experts tell us that any good strategy and concepts get tested thoroughly before launching, but it appears that this one somehow missed its mark. One solution is to use Focus Groups to test your advertising campaign before its launched.

Social Insights

An alternative available for Motrin and other brands looking gain a better understanding of their target market is Ripple6′s new Social Insights service.  This innovation allows brands to establish online consumer research groups within existing social networks.  These are focus groups that exist within the online communities that people visit every day.  Unlike other online focus group technologies, Ripple6 creates these groups directly inside the community that users know and where they have an established comfort level..  It’s a more natural environment for the user, so it leads to a freer, more open and honest discussion for both parties.  It also leads to deeper insights to the preferences and opinions of members.  Just the kind of thing that might have headed off this posse at the pass..  For more information visit this page, or download our handy PDF brochure.

What do you think Motrin could have done to prevent this from happening?

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  • Aldon Hynes

    I was in the middle of the #motrinmoms fray, so let me toss out a few things. First, I think this blog post hits the important issue. Motrin blew it, not because of their portrayal of women carrying babies, although IMHO, that trigged and contributed to the problem. The real problem is that they showed no understanding of social media when targeting a very social media savvy crowd.

    I used this in a parody that I made of the ad which I posted on YouTube

    I also explored some of the reasons the ad was so bad from a bunch of different perspectives in my blog:

    I don’t know much about Social Insights, other than what I’ve read from your page, but it seems like it would have helped immensely.

    Motrin tag line is, “We feel your pain”. Yet because they aren’t involved in a conversation, it comes across as condescending and alienating. Instead, if they had asked, what sort of daily aches and pains bother you most through a well run social media program, they could have done incredibly well.

    Even if they had a blog which allows comments where people could discuss the advertisement, what could have been done better, where the real aches and pains are, and so on, they probably could have avoided this whole problem.

    As it stands, I’m not sure they’ve learned much. They sent out a boiler plate email to people that complained. They took down the ad and put up an apology, but they haven’t engaged with the community. I’ve send emails to key players at Motrin and they haven’t even responded to the emails.

    I suspect they may still have a bit to learn.

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