Motrin’s Mistake Makes Good Social Media Case Study

As some of you may already know, Motrin screwed up this weekend by angering the most powerful force in the world of Social Media: moms. This PR nightmare is a terrific case study for anyone who is still struggling to sell SM monitoring and campaigning to their clients. Here is the scoop.

Motrin created this ad for their homepage in which they go after “baby-wearing” (the act of carrying your infant in a sling around your body). The ad claims that this activity wreaks havoc on the back, neck and shoulders and that Motrin can alleviate this pain. In my favorite quote, the ad states that moms carry their children in slings not only because it’s “in fashion” but also because “it totally makes me look like an official mom.” I guess having the baby isn’t enough to give the appearance of being a mom.

But, here’s the interesting part. As I’ve said here before moms live in social media. Case and point, less than 5 hours after the ad first appeared, SM channels were lit up by angry moms who felt the ad was “condescending” “offensive” “disrespectful” as well as many who disagreed with having experienced any pain from baby-wearing and others who pointed out that the practice is hardly trendy and has been around since our earliest records of human history.

The outrage peaked on Twitter via MotrinMoms which is currently the #1 search on the micro-blog, eclipsing SNL for the first time since Obama was elected. Then, the blogosphere lit up and next came videos on YouTube featuring moms responding to the ad and, of course, the Facebook page.

The real blunder is that this reaction went on for three days within SM channels before Motrin removed the ad and apologized to consumers. Had they been monitoring Twitter and the blogosphere, they could have quashed the outrage quickly with swift action. Instead, Motrin-gate has become a global event with media all over the world reporting the battle cry from moms encouraging each other to boycott the product. (Hopefully, we can once and for all shut down the notion that any publicity is good publicity in lieu of this response). If nothing else, surely this will be the case study PR pros use to demonstrate the need for Social Media monitoring.

Incidentally, their apology isn’t exactly gaining them much ground as it reads less like a sincere statement written by a person who wants to engage their target audience in a conversation and more as Seth Godin said, like the “carefully crafted non-statement of a committee.” He goes on to state that this does nothing to get personal and build bridges. So, it seems the blunders keep on coming.

To see a compilation of the Angry Mom Tweets, check out this video which was created only a few hours after the ad first appeared. Notice how many moms insist they will never buy Motrin again:


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