Motrin bad buzz: a risky lack of love

by Laurent François

Motrin bad buzz is a great example of the possible reactions of social-media empowered individuals, joining their forces to tackle something they consider as unacceptable:

“A simple search on Twitter of #motrinmoms will show you that they pissed off one hell of a lot of people with their latest ad around “babywearing.” Mommy Bloggers are not people you want to mess with and you sure better understand the sandbox you are playing in if you do them wrong. “

In our new world, as David Armano says, “everything is risky”. Here’s a piece of Armano thought that could be relevant in Motrin case:

“The internet is slightly different. And it’s evolving. It’s unpredictable, messy, organic, empowering, addictive and pervasive. It’s good and bad—highly interactive, responsive, connective and alive. In fact, it’s a lot like life. And like life, with it everything is risky. Each time we step outside our homes, we put ourselves at risk. The world can take us out at any time. A car accident, a virus, an act of nature.

The Web is a lot like this. Put something on it that you think is provocative—try to get people talking and you risk being ignored. Put something out that looks “safe” and you might inadvertently upset someone who you never new existed. Put something out that you think will appeal to everyone and you risk appealing to no-one. Stay away from the internet and someone will capture what you did with a mobile phone and put it on there anyway. With every post I write, I’m taking a risk.”

So how to avoid a risk? There’s no magic tool. It’s like in a bar, when you want to outreach someone. You definitely have to know what he likes, what are his / her fears. What are his / her cultural barriers too! And for that, you have to listen first. For example, in the French blogosphere, this “bad buzz” is not fully understood, because our culture is different, so as this kind of video could be less “aggressive” for us.

Here’s a great summary of the misunderstanding between the brands and the parents:

“What the campaign is missing is the love. (…) There are some good freaking writers on parenting blogs. They connect with thousands of parents every day. And none of them are making nearly what creatives in ad agencies are making. Maybe that should change.”

Probably true, and probably more demanding for marketers: for the first time in the history, if the word-of-mouth is bad, you’ll know it quiet soon online.

Motrin email response is nonetheless pretty authentic:

“With regard to the recent Motrin advertisement, we have heard you.

On behalf of McNeil Consumer Healthcare and all of us who work on the Motrin Brand, please accept our sincere apology.

We have heard your complaints about the ad that was featured on our website. We are parents ourselves and take feedback from moms very seriously.

We are in the process of removing this ad from all media. It will, unfortunately, take a bit of time to remove it from our magazine advertising, as it is on newsstands and in distribution.

Thank you for your feedback. Its very important to us.”

Kathy Widmer
Vice President of Marketing
McNeil Consumer Healthcare

A good first step to start a conversation. “I apologize, so now we can start talking together”. Excuse my French. 😉

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