What A Backache

There are times when a brand misses its cue. Sometimes it’s worse than that. Sometimes the brand offends. That’s what happened when Motrin (whose site is down at this time) ran an ad that offended, of all people, moms.

You don’t want to get moms mad. Look what happened to drunk drivers.
Here’s but one of many responses to the ad emerging from the ether:

NOTE: YouTube user, instinctparenting, disabled the embed feature, but her video is still available on YouTube.
Andy Beal says Motrin should follow his steps for apologizing: be sincere, be transparent, and be consistent.

Motrin needs to quickly apologize–before this reaches the mainstream media–and then do some damage control–perhaps find the most vocal detractors and bring them on board to quickly story-board an alternative video.
What can the rest of us learn from this? Never assume you know your target audience.

It appears that the brand is using MotrinMoms on Twitter to do outreach and handle this pr crisis. Twitter user, Katja Presnal, a Social Media Marketing consultant in the middle of this fray, received an email just minutes ago from Vice President of Marketing for McNeil Consumer Healthcare saying, “they didn’t mean to offend moms.”
p.s. Then there’s this unrelated oddity.
[UPDATE] I like these fast breaking stories, but they’re hard to get right. Apparently, MotrinMoms on Twitter is not a spokesperson for the brand, but a “mom who loves her Motrin.”
[MONDAY UPDATE] Motrin.com is back online. Exhibit A:

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Motrin did nothing wrong. Absolutely nothing. Moms are upset because it made a cutesy joke about wearing babies being in fashion!? People seriously want to get upset over that? It’s not trying to speak on behalf of all moms nor is it doing anything other than being cute.
    How can anyone seriously be upset over this? The mom video response above doesn’t even make sense. She’s being emotional and not rational and nowhere in the commercial did it say it was bad to wear a baby. Take a breath, calm down, and stop twisting words to satiate some ridiculous need for drama.

  2. Hi Ariel,
    Glad to know you still read AdPulp from time to time.
    I hear you on overblown sensitivity to a nonissue. Lets see it for what it is—something to talk about on Twitter, blogs and YouTube.

  3. I totally agree with Ariel. I found the commercial very funny and yes, unconventional. The woman talink in the second video is obviously intoxicated… I wouldn’t give her as an example of “good mom feeling offended”, even if indeed the commercial upset other moms too.

  4. From a pure marketing perspective, there are lots of lessons to learn from this. Namely that we don’t live in a M-F, 9-5 society. Bloggers are blogging on the weekends, so companies need to be listening. What other lessons can we take from this incident? Share your thoughts here or at costadevault.com/blog.

  5. I’ve been loosely observing “babygate” develop the last 24 hours and I agree with Ariel. This should be a total non-issue. Motrin’s not very good ad is also not very offensive. End of story. And to you irate moms (all 3 of you), I raised three girls, two of them colicky. I used these baby carrying devices A LOT. And they do cause pain. More importantly, who cares one way or the other?
    I’ve revisited the creative. Read the threads. What exactly is so offensive? Is Motrin really pulling their campaign because of Toledo Tammy’s rambling You Tube video? Losers all.
    Happy Monday,

  6. It’s not for me to say if it’s offensive. Some customers of Motrin thought it was, now the brand is now responding to their vocalness. And that’s a big part of the story here, the volume at which Twitter, You Tube and blogs play. Brands need to be responsive, but they also need to have some sway built in to weather a monster wave.

  7. it was a bit annoying. but it struck me that they were just trying to inject a bit of cool into a dull brand. and the writing could have been better.
    but much ado about nothing really.
    which means CNN will definitely cover it in great depth. Motringate!