Motrin And Moms

I haven’t been this fired up in weeks.  There’s a little shit storm brewing online (it’ll spew over into the offline world this week) because of this Motrin ad that appeared on the new Motrin web site:

To keep this simple, so that I don’t waste any more time than needed on a silly subject, the following happened:

  • Motrin posted the above ad on their site
  • Jessica (correct on 11/17) Gottlieb, who’s twitter profile states she’s “Easily outraged, often wrong, seldom apologetic” was asked to check out the new Motrin.com, which features the ad
  • She, as you might imagine, was offended and decided to take some action via twitter
  • People following her on twitter, like a lynch mob, grabbed their virtual pitchforks and demanded retribution; these moms got royally buggered by the ad (for the record my wife and mother of our child didn’t)
  • They were buggered because they believe that slings are not an in-vogue fashion accessory

Yes, I’m serious…no really I am.

All the “experts” and “thought leaders” have started weighing in.

Motrin capitulated, took their site down,and apologized to the 1% of moms (estimating here) that were buggered.  You can engaged with Motrin directly, via twitter, if you want to ad in your $0.02.

OK, so those are the facts, albeit with a little bit of ‘tude in the there.  This is so completely ridiculous.  As a dad, marketer,and interactive “thought leader” (I’m quoting someone here) I’m appalled, saddened, frightened, vindicated, and excited.  Let me address them one-by-one.

  • Appalled: People have already started speculating on who will get fired.  Will it be the brand manager?  The CMO?  The agency?  It’s disgusting.  People always want to point a finger and look for someone to blame.  How about instead of trying to get people fired, we look for ways to constructively communicate with Motrin?  They’re on twitter?  It’s not like you can’t talk with them.
  • Saddened: Motrin’s good intentions have gone to waste.  The 1% of hyper-connected opinion makers have potentially killed an ad that might connect really well for the other 99% of people in their target.  Surely, they tested the ad with ASI-IPSOS or a similar format.  Clearly it tested well.  If it didn’t you can bet no CMO worth their 18-month average tenure would have signed off on it.
  • Frightened: When things like this happen, it makes it 1,000s of times tougher for agencies to convince brands that they need to take chances, try to connect with their base/community, open up a dialogue, and the obligatory leverage social media/web 2.0.  I’ll bet you there were no less than a dozen projects killed this morning in light of this blow up.
  • Vindicated: This certainly proves the power of the web and social media.  It proves that twitter can be a tremendous force.  For all the people, brands, and clients that sometimes thought it was all rhetoric, well here’s your proof. Unfortunately, it proves the concept, but doesn’t make clients feel any more comfortable about investing in this area.
  • Excited: I don’t want to share too much just yet.  However, this whole situation really supports the POV I wrote for The Project 100.  We all have a role to play in the community.  We all have a voice.  What we decide to do with that voice will ultimately determine how company’s choose to invest in the future.  When things like this happen because of how we used our voice, it makes companies less willing to create tools like Nike+.  After all, why take on the risk?  No sense it creating a conversation, is there?

Ads are designed to connect with the majority.  They are designed to connect with a certain target.  No one expects them to connect with every single person.  We’d love them to, but it never happens.  When they don’t connect, no one is more disappointed than then brand, because it affects their bottom line directly.  But, we, as a community NEED ads.

Do you realize that if companies stopped spending money on ads we wouldn’t have TV shows to watch, radio stations to listen to, websites to visit, or magazines to read.  Sure, there might be a few that exist because they’re government or publicly funded through donations.  But, for the most part you’d be left with little to no programming.  Yes, that’s an extreme point of view and one not likely to happen in the near future.  However, I think it puts a nice little exclamation point on my perspective.

I love the passion of these people that so ticked with Motrin.  I’d love to see it used to drive real change on real problems, like:

  • Battered/abused women
  • Healthcare coverage
  • Newborn screening
  • More maternity and paternity time off

The point of my post today is: remember that while you have a voice, you need to use it responsibly.  It’s really no different than having free speech, but then electing to yell out fire in a movie theater, when one doesn’t exist :)  It’s not only irresponsible, it’s illegal.

  • Chuck A

    I had no idea. I went on the site and sounded off to all the freaks who now feel empowered and self important for taking down Motrin.

  • Chuck A

    I had no idea. I went on the site and sounded off to all the freaks who now feel empowered and self important for taking down Motrin.

  • Him Jiggins

    Great post Adam. Unfortunately, it offended me greatly. Prepare yourself for my Twitter lynch mob of angry balding guys that work from home.

  • Him Jiggins

    Great post Adam. Unfortunately, it offended me greatly. Prepare yourself for my Twitter lynch mob of angry balding guys that work from home.

  • JamiMiami

    Great post. So many more things to worry about… I made a comment yesterday how October was Domestic Violence awareness month. Barely a mention on Twitter about it. It’s infuriating.

  • JamiMiami

    Great post. So many more things to worry about… I made a comment yesterday how October was Domestic Violence awareness month. Barely a mention on Twitter about it. It’s infuriating.

  • http://jessicagottlieb.com/ Jessica Gottlieb

    Thanks for spelling my name right!

    Unless you’ve spent a year with surging hormones, insufferable lonliness, sleep deprivation, more joy AND fear than anyone can every imagine… unless you’ve done all of that, you really won’t understand the outrage.

    I know the backlash is coming, and I’m okay with it. The reality is that new moms should be off limits.

    What was particularly galling is that this is the first ever International Babywearing Week, and our collective voices were being mocked for that.

  • http://jessicagottlieb.com Jessica Gottlieb

    Thanks for spelling my name right!

    Unless you’ve spent a year with surging hormones, insufferable lonliness, sleep deprivation, more joy AND fear than anyone can every imagine… unless you’ve done all of that, you really won’t understand the outrage.

    I know the backlash is coming, and I’m okay with it. The reality is that new moms should be off limits.

    What was particularly galling is that this is the first ever International Babywearing Week, and our collective voices were being mocked for that.

  • http://www.thekmiecs.com adamkmiec

    @Jessica – Apologies on the name spelling; it’s been corrected.

    As noted, via twitter, my wife didn’t find anything wrong with the ad. If the mother of my daughter is ok with it, so am I. I’ve carried my daughter many times, evidence here http://www.thekmiecs.com/cora/2008-minnesota-state-fair/ and I’ll tell you my back ached after 6 hours at the Minnesota State Fair.

    “Off limits?” To what end? Should we call for a ban on all advertising to moms like we do with kids? Perhaps we should stifle product innovation so that we don’t get things like the Podee bottle. It’s ironic that you think new moms should be off limits yet moms create blogs/sites and demand an interaction.

    Again, I don’t see the mockery; but I’m not the target. My wife is the target though. She didn’t see it, nor my mom (she carries Cora too), nor my mother in law (she carries Cora too). Sure that’s a sample of 3, but you are a sample of 1 :)

    Here’s the real question: what did you hope to accomplish by asking people to never purchase Motrin? Was that constructive? Was it helpful? Does it get to the root of the issue?

    The beauty of the web is it facilitates a dialogue…a conversation. What you chose to do, was as bad as brands that simply shout their message instead of engaging. Why didn’t you use your influence to ask people to offer thoughts on WHY the ad offended and how J&J; could improve?

    Was not asking for a boycott as circa 1997 as a brand that only offers up a contact us form and form letter responses? It’s not like Motrin didn’t have a twitter profile :)

    BTW-congrats on “eclipsing SNL for the first time since Obama was elected.” Huge milestone. What will you do with your new found fame? To paraphrase the Spiderman movies, with great power comes great responsibility. I’m looking forward to seeing the responsibility.

  • Adam

    @Jessica – Apologies on the name spelling; it’s been corrected.

    As noted, via twitter, my wife didn’t find anything wrong with the ad. If the mother of my daughter is ok with it, so am I. I’ve carried my daughter many times, evidence here http://www.thekmiecs.com/cora/2008-minnesota-state-fair/ and I’ll tell you my back ached after 6 hours at the Minnesota State Fair.

    “Off limits?” To what end? Should we call for a ban on all advertising to moms like we do with kids? Perhaps we should stifle product innovation so that we don’t get things like the Podee bottle. It’s ironic that you think new moms should be off limits yet moms create blogs/sites and demand an interaction.

    Again, I don’t see the mockery; but I’m not the target. My wife is the target though. She didn’t see it, nor my mom (she carries Cora too), nor my mother in law (she carries Cora too). Sure that’s a sample of 3, but you are a sample of 1 :)

    Here’s the real question: what did you hope to accomplish by asking people to never purchase Motrin? Was that constructive? Was it helpful? Does it get to the root of the issue?

    The beauty of the web is it facilitates a dialogue…a conversation. What you chose to do, was as bad as brands that simply shout their message instead of engaging. Why didn’t you use your influence to ask people to offer thoughts on WHY the ad offended and how J&J could improve?

    Was not asking for a boycott as circa 1997 as a brand that only offers up a contact us form and form letter responses? It’s not like Motrin didn’t have a twitter profile :)

    BTW-congrats on “eclipsing SNL for the first time since Obama was elected.” Huge milestone. What will you do with your new found fame? To paraphrase the Spiderman movies, with great power comes great responsibility. I’m looking forward to seeing the responsibility.

  • http://www.fieryirishrose.com/ Vegasbab

    Jessica-
    I was a Mom and a nanny for many years. I’ve carried more kids than most people probably ever will. And guess what? My back and shoulders hurt like hell. Guess what else? I thought the commercial rocked! It was cute, it was funny, it was tongue in cheek and it wasn’t the usual, boring crap. Behind it all, the underlying message was, “Hey mom’s, we appreciate all that you do.” In fact, something to that effect was written in the right hand side next to the video to make it clear that they were giving you “kudos”. Thanks Motrin for acknowledging Moms for things we do, especially the things we never get credit for.

    Adam is completely right, not only in his post but also in his comment.

    1. Yes, what you did is amazing. Clearly, you are an influencer who has the power to change things. However, moving forward, why don’t you focus your energy elsewhere? October was Breast Cancer Awareness month. Image what you could have done to spread the word. Want to talk babies? Why don’t you focus your energy on newborn screenings or making sure Moms opt to keep their cord blood? Why don’t you focus on the education plight?

    2. In addition, all you’ve done is “yell” at J&J. No one has yet to explain effectively why this ad offended them so much, except to say that no one understands “hormonal, lonely, sleep deprived women.” You’re right, when I’m hormonal and sleep deprived, I don’t even understand myself! Instead of continuing to criticize, come up with suggestions on how J&J could improve. As a brand marketer, I have no idea what you people want unless you TELL me. Stop complaining and start offering CONSTRUCTIVE criticism.

  • http://www.fieryirishrose.com Vegasbab

    Jessica-
    I was a Mom and a nanny for many years. I’ve carried more kids than most people probably ever will. And guess what? My back and shoulders hurt like hell. Guess what else? I thought the commercial rocked! It was cute, it was funny, it was tongue in cheek and it wasn’t the usual, boring crap. Behind it all, the underlying message was, “Hey mom’s, we appreciate all that you do.” In fact, something to that effect was written in the right hand side next to the video to make it clear that they were giving you “kudos”. Thanks Motrin for acknowledging Moms for things we do, especially the things we never get credit for.

    Adam is completely right, not only in his post but also in his comment.

    1. Yes, what you did is amazing. Clearly, you are an influencer who has the power to change things. However, moving forward, why don’t you focus your energy elsewhere? October was Breast Cancer Awareness month. Image what you could have done to spread the word. Want to talk babies? Why don’t you focus your energy on newborn screenings or making sure Moms opt to keep their cord blood? Why don’t you focus on the education plight?

    2. In addition, all you’ve done is “yell” at J&J. No one has yet to explain effectively why this ad offended them so much, except to say that no one understands “hormonal, lonely, sleep deprived women.” You’re right, when I’m hormonal and sleep deprived, I don’t even understand myself! Instead of continuing to criticize, come up with suggestions on how J&J could improve. As a brand marketer, I have no idea what you people want unless you TELL me. Stop complaining and start offering CONSTRUCTIVE criticism.

  • Cheryl Kmiec

    99.99% of the comments on this site are written by Adam but I felt that I needed to chime in this time. The short answer is that I completely agree with him on this one. Saying that a guy “really won’t understand” this situation shows how narrow minded you are being. If a man were to try and tell me he knew how it felt to give birth or go through a c-section, I would argue, but I have seen plenty of men carrying their children around the park, mall, etc for hours!

    The Motrin commercial is great! It is fun, witty, and leaves me smiling. It makes me think “now there is someone who gets it!” Don’t try to scare me with stories of pain or convince me that there is all this medical insight as to why I should use Motrin. Show me that you understand me. You know that I’m going to continue to carry my baby around in a sling/carrier despite the fact that it makes my back hurt because I’m a mom and that’s what we do. We put our kids first. But sometimes, it’s nice to know that someone is looking out for us. I can still put my child first but take a little Motrin to make me feel better.

    I also showed this commercial to several moms I work with and didn’t offer any pretext, just started up the commercial. Everyone of them was smiling by the end of it and pretty much felt the same way I did. We watched this commercial, smiled, and thought that Motrin was applauding us for doing what moms do and offering a way to make it a little easier.

  • Cheryl Kmiec

    99.99% of the comments on this site are written by Adam but I felt that I needed to chime in this time. The short answer is that I completely agree with him on this one. Saying that a guy “really won’t understand” this situation shows how narrow minded you are being. If a man were to try and tell me he knew how it felt to give birth or go through a c-section, I would argue, but I have seen plenty of men carrying their children around the park, mall, etc for hours!

    The Motrin commercial is great! It is fun, witty, and leaves me smiling. It makes me think “now there is someone who gets it!” Don’t try to scare me with stories of pain or convince me that there is all this medical insight as to why I should use Motrin. Show me that you understand me. You know that I’m going to continue to carry my baby around in a sling/carrier despite the fact that it makes my back hurt because I’m a mom and that’s what we do. We put our kids first. But sometimes, it’s nice to know that someone is looking out for us. I can still put my child first but take a little Motrin to make me feel better.

    I also showed this commercial to several moms I work with and didn’t offer any pretext, just started up the commercial. Everyone of them was smiling by the end of it and pretty much felt the same way I did. We watched this commercial, smiled, and thought that Motrin was applauding us for doing what moms do and offering a way to make it a little easier.

  • http://www.momontherun.net/ Mom On The Run

    I tried to respond to your comment on my site, but the email was bounced back to me.

    My response was:

    Yes – the request to boycott the product was just a tad bit extreme… I
    guess some people are passionate like that.

    Thanks for stopping by!
    Janice

    Visit me @ http://www.momontherun.net

  • http://www.momontherun.net Mom On The Run

    I tried to respond to your comment on my site, but the email was bounced back to me.

    My response was:

    Yes – the request to boycott the product was just a tad bit extreme… I
    guess some people are passionate like that.

    Thanks for stopping by!
    Janice

    Visit me @ http://www.momontherun.net

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Digital dad to Cora and John. Love ironing, bourbon and BBQ; no necessarily in that order. Living life, like I stole it. I'm always up for a

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