People Companies Advertise Archives Contact Us Jason Dowdell

Main > Archives > 2008 > November > Motrin Babycarrier Ad: A lesson in Online Reputation Management

Monday, November 24, 2008

Motrin Babycarrier Ad: A lesson in Online Reputation Management

motrin ad

One of Motrin's recent ads in its "We Feel Your Pain" campaign became an overnight controversy to moms with babycarriers. According to Compete Pro Search Analytics, had a 10X increase in its daily reach on the web, jumping from .002% to .02% in one day, but it may have been much ado about nothing, because those numbers faded quickly.

Here's an excerpt of the text from the commercial:


Wearing your baby seems to be in fashion. In theory it's a great idea...These things put a ton of strain on your back, your neck, your shoulders... I'll put up with the pain, because it's a good kind of pain.... because it's good for my it totally makes me look like an official mom. And so, if I look tired and crazy, people will understand why.

Feedback from angry moms on Youtube and Twitter, pressured Johnson-Johnson to remove the ad from its website.Kathy Widmer,Vice President of Marketing for J&J's company- McNeil Consumer Healthcare,sent an apology to Forbes, and claimed that the ad "intended to demonstrate genuine sympathy and appreciation for all that parents do for their babies."

On the company's corporate blog and Motrin's site, Widmer emphasized the fact that they were learning from their mistake.


We are listening to you, and we know that’s the best place to start as we move ahead. More to come on that.In the end, we have been reminded of age-old lessons that are tried and true:When you make a mistake - own up to it, and say you’re sorry.Learn from that mistake.That’s all..for now.


Personally, I think the moms vs. versus Motrin battle offers a valuable lesson for online reputation management-.While I admire Widmer's willingness to tackle the issue directly by posting a response on the corporate blog, I think J&J  may have actually drawn more negative attention to an issue that wasn't as damaging as it initially appeared. If they had monitored the negative press with more scrutiny, they probably would have seen the entire situation through a new scope. Of course, in the world of instant communication, it's tricky to see the big picture in the midst of chaos, but a closer look at the numbers reveals valuable insight that puts the negative feedback into perspective.

For example, look at the data Tom Martin from Adage, found. He believes J&J overreacted to a vocal minority.  From Nov. 14-16, he found about 300 to 400 blog posts on the subject (depending on keyword string) and 3,000 posts if you track through to Nov. 18. But the vast majority of it was after the issue surfaced and bloggers (including males) around the world simply commented on a hot topic. His poll of 150 heavy internet-using moms showed that 145 of them are unaware of the campaign or backlash. And of the five that were, not one was planning to boycott or complain to Motrin.

Peter Kafka, another contributor to Adage, made a great point about the online buzz. He said:

"Even if the outrage is widespread, it’s going to be hard make a connection between online chatter and real-world results. Otherwise Ron Paul would be the 44th President of the United States."

The bottom line: Analyze as much vital as data as quickly and efficiently as you can, before you throw in the towel on a costly marketing campaign.Otherwise, you may just dig yourself a deeper hole.

By Matt O'Hern at 12:43 PM | Comments (1)

(1) Thoughts on Motrin Babycarrier Ad: A lesson in Online Reputation Management

Thanks for the reference to my article in Ad Age. If your readers want all the data I pulled, as well as a complete post on the subject, they can find it at

-Tom Martin

Comments by Tom Martin : Monday, November 24, 2008 at 02:04 PM

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Marketing Shift PostsSubscribe to The MarketingShift Feed