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.
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.