Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog

Top 7 Things We Learned From Motrin Moms

Unless you slept through Sunday and Monday this week, you were either involved in the conversation about Motrin Moms or you tried to ignore it.  Besides wasting diverting a lot of people’s time with the discussion/debate, what did we learn?

  1. Don’t mess with moms.
    Moms have been a huge target demographic for quite some time. After all, they tend to be the ones who do the shopping for their families. Anger your target demographic, and you’ll suffer the consequences. I doubt many babywearing moms are going to suddenly start using Motrin after this whole fiasco. (There may be a run on generic ibuprofen, though, to deal with the aftermath.)
  2. Do your research.
    The moms wouldn’t have been angered if someone would’ve just done a bit of research about the babywearing crowd. Sure, not all moms are into the whole babywearing thing, but the ad targeted the ones who are. And the babywearers are serious about it. It’s not about fashion, and even a lot of non-babywearing moms (like me) understood that it was condescending to insinuate that it was. Was the outcry an overreaction? Maybe it was, and maybe it wasn’t. But it happened. Moms aren’t silent anymore; the mom community has grown very vocal, especially with the advent of social media. Moms are passionate because there’s a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” dynamic where they get criticized no matter what parenting decisions they make, and they’ve gotten very used to being on the defensive. I know this firsthand. The babywearing crowd may be a little more “hardcore” than I am about this whole mommy identity thing, but the marketers would have realized this if they’d done better research.
  3. Twitter really is a big deal.
    Seriously. It’s in Forbes now: the power of Twitter to affect business decisions made by Really Big Corporations. And while some people think this was much ado about nothing, consider the possibilities now about things that really matter to a broader audience.
  4. Bad news travels fast.
    The ad was posted on Saturday. I wasn’t doing the whole social media thing on Saturday night, but by the time I signed onto Twitter on Sunday, my mommy friends were going wild! It was Monday before the apology was posted. The folks at Motrin really needed to have someone working the weekend shift when they launched the ad. Had they headed off the criticism early on, it may not have morphed into the big huge deal it did. Mommy bloggers are mostly online when their kids nap and go to bed, and when the daddies are home on the weekends. If you’re pushing out a new ad campaign that targets moms online, you have to be around to respond in real time, good or bad.
  5. You’ve gotta be sincere.
    Even non-moms found Motrin’s apology lacking. It’s kinda like saying, “I’m sorry you’re so overly sensitive that I offended you.” Hardly the apology you need to hear when someone has hurt your feelings. And hardly the right words to gain back potentially lost customers.
  6. No such thing as bad publicity?
    So the folks at Motrin likely didn’t make any new customers out of the babywearing/mommy sympathizer crowd, but what about everyone else? The Internet Marketing community was playing fast and loose with this whole #motrinmoms thing on Twitter and in the blogosphere on Monday. Anyone who hears about this in the mainstream media probably couldn’t care less about whether or not the ad was offensive; they just heard about Motrin in the news. Will Motrin see an increase in sales because of the publicity? That remains to be seen. It would be interesting to follow the story to see how their sales fare next quarter.
  7. Irony is a funny thing.
    Who knew that a headache medicine would be the cause of so many headaches?

Oh, and also, don’t mess with me. In my other life, I’m a mommy blogger… and I Twitter. 😉


6 Responses

  1. Though I totally agree on all points from a business standpoint, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the people in question really are getting extraordinarily worked up over what certainly seems like a very minor thing.

  2. Saw this happening in real time, but didn’t have time to look into it until now. Shows how important it is to take every possible consumer perspective into consideration when releasing anything for public consumption.

    As individuals, we all have opinions and perspectives that we know other people don’t agree with. I am comfortable with expressing my perspectives to anyone I interact with on a personal level, but I try to filter the things that might not be able to control. And I’m the first to admit that I haven’t been perfect in my efforts.

    The bottom line is, you can never control how other people will react to things. Big brands should be ultra-sensitive to this when they release content . . . in this case, Motrin wasn’t.

  3. Or..

    8. Some people just have too much time
    While some folk don’t have time to watch tv ads there are those that will obsess over them. This can be applied to anything, be careful of what you do and each segment of it. Even if the overall punchline is a good one sometimes the intro just won’t work. By the time the punchline gets there they have already lost them.


  4. I take such a different view to most people on this. I thought the campaign brilliant it burnt attention onto the brand like hot projectile vomit.

    Sure, that was damaging. So then what Motrin should have done – maybe they did, but I don’t have time to follow – is set up a website called,, invite all the critics to come and continue the debate at the site.

    Own the arguement.

    Then, turn it around. Fly the mommy bloggers in to the Motrin HQ to discuss with the main complainers.

    Learn exactly what the problem is and throw enough engagement at it for opinion to swing.

    Now, the point is not really to solve the initial problem, but to occupy the next few news cycles and move the discussion on to where they are more comfortable.

    If the company grasped how W2.0 worked they could have done this and a whole lot more, but then they probably wouldn’t have got into trouble in the first place.

    The thing that interests me is not that it happened, but why they didn’t exploit the situation and enhance it to their own benefit.

    But hey, safe corporate mentality. Whaddyagonnado?

  5. Lyndon,

    I must admit that I’ve considered the possibility that Motrin knew what they were doing just for attention, except that I don’t think they handled the aftermath well.

    I totally agree with you about how they could have owned the argument and turned it around in their favor.

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