Over the weekend a truly extraordinary example of the impact social networking is having on business to consumer relationships emerged as Motrin’s newest ad campaign turned from a firestorm of criticism into a brilliant PR move.
Motrin’s campaign (done by NYC ad agency TAXI New York) commented on the various tolls motherhood takes on one’s body, and how this pain was a badge of pride for “real moms.” Nevermind the potentially incendiary idea of “real moms” (versus what, “fake moms?”), mothers began to grouse that these ads were wrong on many, many levels:
“I am exquisitely aware that the only way my voice is heard, is when you repeat my words. I try to play nice and use my inside voice, and I need y’all to know that my ‘baby’ is seven. I’m not prickly because they picked on me. I’m prickly because they picked on new mommies. I’m prickly because calling us bad mothers will never be funny.” – LA Moms Blog
“I am deeply and profoundly offended. My kids are big, I no longer wear them so Motrin (Johnson and Johnson) didn’t hurt my feelings specifically but they broke the #1 rule of comedy and satire:
Don’t pick on the weak.
New mothers are fragile. Motrin has proven, irrevocably that they don’t understand that mothers are the ones in the grocery stores. Mothers clip coupons and build brands with discussion. Mothers get together and uplift one another.
So when you pick on a few new mommies, you get all of us.” – Eco Child’s Play
Offended mom Jessica Gottlieb was the first to air her criticisms of the campaign via Twitter, and over the weekend thousands of tweets by “Motrin Moms” littered the Twitterverse, which surpassed Barack Obama to become the most-tweeted topic in months.
The last group of people you want to upset via the Internet are mommybloggers, for they are fast, efficient, and well-connected. In a recession, Motrin probably recognized the much higher cost of bad press and the idea of being blacklisted in American homes in favor of cheaper generic medicines and mom-friendly brands.
Motrin responded quickly, taking the ads down and issuing an apology to their offended moms:
The apology is circulating now, and while it was a drastic move, it was also very smart. The social networks that spread negative news can just as easily spread positive ones, and using social networks to their advantage was a great reaction on Motrin’s part. Social networks are community-based, and direct communication is key. Social networking is vital to monitoring public opinion and maintaining those connections, so that when a marketing move crashes and burns, you can fight fire with fire.