Have you heard of Motrin? The pain reliever? If you hadn’t before this weekend, you probably have heard plenty about it now, especially on Twitter this weekend.
The debacle is described best in the article Advertising Age, “How Twittering Critics Brought Down Motrin Mom Campaign,” which explains how the Johnson & Johnson product offended mothers and fathers with an online and print ad for Motrin which claimed that some moms carry their babies around with baby body carriers as a “fashion statement” and summed it up with “Supposedly it’s a real bonding experience, but what about me?”
The outrage rocked the social media world. Twitter tweets on Motrin went berserk as people were outraged at this slam against parenthood and parent/child bonding. Within two days of mass online social outrage, the ad campaign was pulled and the Motrin’s website featured an apology saying:
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 Mortin Brand, please accept our sincere apology.
We have heard your concerns about the ad that was featured on our website. We are parents ourselves and we take feedback from moms very seriously…
The Advertising Age article summarized it as:
The campaign has been online since Sept. 30 and has been circulating in several magazines for weeks, but it finally caught the attention — and ire — of some influential bloggers Friday night before blowing up into a full-fledged cause celebre on Twitter over the weekend.
The ultimate demise of the campaign demonstrates either how quickly social media can galvanize a groundswell of opinion or how much power over online discourse they can give a few vocal tastemakers with outsize weight.
The beginning of the end for the Motrin push probably came Friday night, when Los Angeles blogger Jessica Gottlieb said she was tipped off to the ads and started expressing her outrage over the campaign on Twitter, where she has 1,018 followers.
From blogger to blogger, then Twitter to Twitter, word spread proving, “Many people with small networks have just as much influence as a few people with large networks,” explained David Armano, VP at marketing firm Critical Mass, in the article.
Elisa Camahort Page of BlogHer was also quoted in the article:
We now have indisputable proof that online marketing, YouTube and Twitter and all that it encompasses is meaningful and has arrived,” said Gene Grabowsk, chair of the crisis and litigation practice at Levick Strategic Communications. “We are seeing real consequences to a mistake. If [social networks] didn’t matter, you wouldn’t see this type of reaction from J&J or consumers.
While you might not have known about Motrin before this weekend, the impact of the Motrin ad campaign on the online social media networks will be remembered for a long time to come. A Motrin Moment in the new social order.