When MotrinMoms Attack

One really interesting phenomenon of social media is how fast a discussion can spread through the various networks, and how the momentum of a little negative buzz can quickly become a firestorm. An excellent example of this is this weekend’s Motrin scandal.

Motrin posted an ad on their web site with a glib comment about the use of “baby slings” as a fashion statement, and almost immediately set off a lot of angry moms. Now in case you haven’t noticed, the mommy bloggers and twitter moms make up a very strong voice in social media, and they were heard big-time this weekend. A quick search on Google yielded 1,320 mentions of the tag motrinmoms which quickly became the universal buzz tag.Logic Emotion: Moms Give Motrin A Headache

Johnson and Johnson reacted by email within a few hours, sending out a statement that included “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.” an apology for the offending ad and retracting it from their web site, but not before the web site was brought to it’s knees by the buzz.

I’m including both a screen shot and a link to the video here because the video has been disappearing and re-appearing on youtube like mad. As soon as it gets taken down somebody else posts a copy.

So what does this all mean and why should we care?
Frankly, I found the post only mildly annoying, but I am NOT taking sides here. From the sidelines it’s been amazing to watch. If it had been a few people (or even hundreds) mailing in letters to J&J, we would never have heard about it, much less made it a big deal.

The ease of creating buzz on-line is what makes this an event. The mainstream media has barely had time to pick up on it yet. I expect we’ll be hearing “special reports” about this for a few more days as they pick it up.

It’s also a testament to what a small group of advocates can accomplish in a shockingly short amount of time, and the amount of time it takes for a relatively huge corporate entity to respond.

Will Johnson and Johnson be permanently disfigured by the whole mess? Unlikely. Maybe they’ll do a little more market research before they run this kind of ad, but probably not. Maybe they’ll look a little more closely at how companies like Dell and Comcast monitor social media.

The power of social media to quickly rally people to a cause is the big takeaway, so now what does THAT mean?

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Have you read Ogilvy's response to this "social Media Crisis"?


You are right that it was interesting to watch. It was like a farce only these #motrinmoms are still serious about it. The ad is not offensive to me and I have carried three children this way.A little Motrin does not hurt. What did I miss?
Social media is not only powerful for good and this is the kind of thing corporate entities fear getting caught up in. They responded as quickly as one could expect on a weekend for a major corporation.


I think situations like this are one of the reasons why big corporations are realizing they need to be social media-savvy. They are realizing that errors in judgement spread virally. The Web Guild blog made a good point–companies need to learn how to respond to crisis in a quicker 2.0-way, not just via email or press release.


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