If you missed the Motrin debacle on Twitter today, you can follow the thread here and watch the ad that started this brouhaha on the Motrin website (if they haven’t pulled it down already). Here’s the saga in brief, Motrin put out couple of ‘We feel your pain’ ads on its website, one of which ‘supposedly’ feels the mom’s pain when they have to ‘wear their baby’ in a sling, which apparently is fashionable.
Full disclosure, I am past the ‘sling’ phase and don’t use Motrin, so I neither care nor am I outraged like many (but not all) Twitter-moms. I was slightly amused by Motrin’s pathetic attempt at humor. I think the ad would have been much more relevant and powerful, if they had used real moms in the ad and made it less electronic and more human. Here’s a great example of an ad that would have been a disaster and extremely offensive if it hadn’t been for the celebrity spokesperson, who can glibly state that women are getting pregnant (even with complete strangers) just to get the new VW minivan.
I don’t recall any lynch mobs at the VW plant or at Brooke Shield’s home and that’s because the right spokesperson makes all the difference. Brooke Shields is one hot mama and it’s hard to get worked up over someone as likeable as her, but Motrin, comes off as the big, greedy corporation as this Twitterer points out, it’s just bad marketing.
I’ll say this about Motrin, if they were trying to score big time publicity in the social space through these ads, their wish has been granted. Jessica Gottlieb claims responsibility for starting this anti-Motrin-Twitter-mania. Whether or not this will have a significant impact on Motrin sales would depend on:
– How many of these Twitter-moms are actually Motrin users?
– How many are really outraged vs. jumping on the bandwagon?
– How many will actually stop using Motrin?
– Lastly, how many of Motrin’s target customer base is on Twitter? I mean is this representative of their customer base or just a small vocal minority.
After an entire day of Twitter-debate, the ad as of 6pm (PST) was still on the site, so either Motrin marketing team is clueless about what’s going on in the social space or thinks that this is much ado about nothing and/or all publicity is good.
This incident will probably make it into many marketing and social media case studies. It’s obvious that large companies need to do a better job on monitoring their brand and related chatter in the social space. That being said, the outrage created by Motrin (and others like it) will do for Twitter, what American Idol did for SMS/text messaging, ie. galvanize the user base. So while Motrin might be the loser, Twitter is definitely the winner.