Was this Motrin Ad Offensive to Moms?

November 23, 2008

After reading about all of the comments on twitter about the Motrin® commercial, I decided yesterday that I finally had to view it myself (search for #motrinmoms to see the conversations). The ad design itself is funny and interesting – also a bit clever, which is what probably got Motrin in trouble.

I can almost image the agency that created this trying to brainstorm all the activities in a mom’s hectic day to see what the real “pain points” are. Whether it’s lugging groceries from the car or bending over your umpteenth load of laundry, there’s plenty of back-busting activities abound. They chose the babysling though, probably because this gives the ad a specific focus and targets a certain demographic for Motrin (hey, there’s lots of infant and children Motrin these moms might need too).

At the risk of getting hatemail, I have to say that I like the concept of this ad. It breaks out of the typical clichéd ad format and attempts to talk to the consumers in the way that two best friends (or in this case moms) might exchange war stories together. The verbiage and voiceover style in the ad is tongue-in-cheek, and statements were exaggerated to be witty and memorable.

Moms remembered the ad all right, but for all the wrong reasons. From what I read, it seems that the references about how babyslings are all the rage (a lot of moms wear these) and how these make you feel like an “official mom” (as if you were doing this for the wrong reason) were the points most of the comments reference as offensive. It appears that these attempts at humor just pushed it a little too far for this particular target audience. In this way, the ad itself failed because it did not resonate with a large amount of their viewers.

Because of the uproar, J&J (who makes Motrin) has since pulled the ad and made a public apology to moms for missing the mark. The bigger question is that now Motrin know about twitter are they going to do things differently next time? Will they mobilize this very audience in a positive way next time (ie: focus groups)? Will they now setup a presence on twitter (they’d had to get their name back first – someone else has it) or their own blog or facebook group? Now that they’ve seen firsthand how swiftly social media conversations can impact their brand, I imagine that they will.

Want to see the ad for your yourself? Here it is.

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