Motrin Babywearing Ad/PR Debacle

In case you hadn’t heard — Motrin recently released an ad that blew it on so many fronts.  The target audience of the ad seems to be Moms who wear their babies. As a PR professional, I have to wonder if they tested the ad on any Moms who actually wear their babies.  As a Mom, I wonder if they tested the ad on any Moms.

Baby-wearing Moms are offended.  Moms who used to wear their babies are offended.  Moms who never wore their babies are offended.  The ad is somewhat condescending.  Even worse, it launched during International Babywearing week. In that sense, the ad also managed to be pandering.  As this video by Katja Presnal illustrates, Motrin managed to antagonize a lot of people.  If you have any doubts, go to Twitter and search for the #motrin conversation. 

I wear my baby sometimes.  I’ve got a Slingaroo, which I wrote about here.  Now I use it for convenience.  When she was a newborn, I did it to comfort her. It doesn’t hurt when I put her in there the right way and when I’ve got the sling on properly.  And I’ve NEVER used my sling to be “in fashion,” nor have I done it so that I look like an official Mom, or to explain to people why I look “tired and crazy.”

I’m not as fired-up or offended by Motrin’s ad as a lot of other people.  I see it as a PR mistake from which to learn. I’m anxious to see what the company does in the coming days to reach out to the mommy bloggers and social media mavens.

****UPDATE – right after I posted, I discovered that Motrin’s PR team is already reacting and taking the ad down.

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6 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Tim Rueb said,

    Until I saw the end of the YouTube spot, I thought it was a competitor trying to give Motrin a black eye by offending so many people. This ad makes no sense, I don’t watch TV much so I was also wondering if this was a pre-focus group spot that got released unplanned. I agree, it sure doesn’t seem like it was tested, and if it was tested, I would hate to meet up with that focus group in a dark alley. They must be very scary.

  2. 2

    newmomoldmom said,

    Hey — the controversy made the NYT. Check it out:
    http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/17/moms-and-motrin/

  3. 3

    J said,

    Michelle,

    I heard of this but never saw the spot. I am sometimes comfortably out of the loop. Not good to see PR firms make blunders, although the entrepreneur in me thought can this be a marketing angle? (Hire a savvy writer…savvy on moms who wear their babies) and something else only well-written. Writers don’t have to make brilliant first drafts, just follow through and polish to perfection, right? Haha. Well, my blog has your’s added to the link list. If you see my blog’s look change it is because I am unhappy with the layout. Your link shall remain :)

    Thanks,
    J/Jessie
    http://www.jwriting.info

  4. 4

    [...] ran across a marketing blog post (Motrin Babywearing Ad/PR Debacle) and it referenced Motrin and baby carriers. I was curious. Normally I would not go hunting down [...]

  5. 5

    Greg Smith said,

    I can’t see what the fuss is about. My wife carried three babies in pouches and she agrees. She wouldn’t see it as a slight against her. Or is it a clever way of Motrin getting some free publicity. Who has contacted these mothers to see who they are? It seems a little too slick and quick that such an ordinary product would attract this amount of controversy.

  6. 6

    newmomoldmom said,

    Interesting take on it. I’ve heard similar commentary. But some of the women invovled in helping this thing “go viral” have been interviewed on local television in their respective communities and several of the ones I’m familiar with had a presence on Twitter and in other social media outlets prior to the Motrin ad, so I’m certain they’re not in cahoots with Motrin.

    As a PR pro, I would be willing to be that Motrin didn’t “create” this controversy.


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