Motrin Case Study: A Branding Lesson in Social Media

In 2008, Motrin released a comercial focusing on backaches moms get from carrying their children in “baby slings” with the idea tat taking Motrin would alleviate their pain. Furthermore, it was trying to say carrying your baby using the sling was a fashion statement.

This ad outraged moms across the globe and became headlines in mainstream media. USA Today’s storyline read Offended moms get tweet revenge over Motrin ads.” In addition, it was listed among Ad Age’s controversial stories of the year. The hashtag #motrinmoms was created on Twitter. There were groups put on Facebook to boycott the product and responses to the ad posted on YouTube.

This negativity exploded on the internet for three days before Motrin pulled the ad and apologized to customers.  The company was not monitoring the internet chatter during this 3 day time frame. They emailed an apology to mom bloggers, a copy of which can be found on this blog.

I am the Vice President of Marketing for McNeil Consumer Healthcare. I have responsibility for the Motrin Brand, and am responding to concerns about recent advertising on our website. I am, myself, a mom of 3 daughters.

We certainly did not mean to offend moms through our advertising. Instead, we had intended to demonstrate genuine sympathy and appreciation for all that parents do for their babies. We believe deeply that moms know best and we sincerely apologize for disappointing you. Please know that we take your feedback seriously and will take swift action with regard to this ad. We are in process of removing it from our website. It will take longer, unfortunately, for it to be removed from magazine print as it is currently on newstands and in distribution.

The email was then followed up by posting an apology on their website which read as follows:

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

Critics said it did not make an impact and Seth Godin is quoted on his blog saying; “This isn’t a honest note from a real person. It’s the carefully crafted non-statement of a committee. What an opportunity to get personal and connected and build bridges…”

What can we learn from this case study?

  1. Brands need to monitor social media chatter. If the company had people doing this, they could have caught it and responded sooner.
  2. Response time to crisis communication in social media is critical. Sources say it should be handled within 24 hours.
  3. Brands have to talk with their consumers in social media in a way that is personal and says, “We hear you.”
  4. The use of social media presents brands with opportunities to redeem themselves quickly and build bridges with the public

That is what interactive marketing is all about.


About KakieF
To learn more about Kakie Fitzsimmons, please select "A NOTE FROM KAKIE" tab at the top left of this page. Thanks for visiting my blog!

One Response to Motrin Case Study: A Branding Lesson in Social Media

  1. Pingback: Online Reputation Management and Crisis Communications Planning « Kakie Writes

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