Earlier this week, I wrote about how companies can no longer control their brand once the web gets hold of it. Today, there’s a HUGE real life example in action.
Motrin has just launched a new ad campaign aimed at Moms. It’s a text-based video ranting about the pains and sacrifices of baby-wearing – the use of slings, baby carriers, and any of the other plethora of gizmos to strap an infant to your front or back.
Motrin’s point: we do SO much for our kids, but too often, we forget about the toll on ourselves, especially the back pain that ensues from carrying your young kids around for extended periods of time. The solution, of course, is their pain-relief product.
Check out the ad for yourself and see what you think…
The response from mommy bloggers on their sites and on Twitter was quick, furious, and ENORMOUS. It appears to have started just yesterday with a post from Amy at crunchydomesticgoddess.com and a Tweet from Jessica Gottlieb. In less than 24 hours, it has taken off like wildfire.
It has mobilized an army of mommy bloggers all writing online about it…
It has taken down the Motrin website…
And it has already brought Amy a response from Motrin: they’re going to remove the video from the website immediately, and stop the print campaign as soon as possible, too.
The good news for them is that the first apology letter seems to be earning them early kudos from commenters, many of whom are happy to see them acknowledge the error of their strategy.
Unfortunately for Motrin, the damage has already been done. In ONE DAY, a brand new, presumably very expensive ad campaign is GONE. It has also caused them enormous damage and will likely irrepairably harm their brand within a significant, vocal, and powerful community.
So what should Motrin do?
- Continue to acknowledge they made a big mistake and continue to explain the original intent was to sympathize and empathize with the struggles of motherhood (good start on the letter to Amy!).
- Comment on as many of the mommy blogs as possible.
- Use Twitter to talk about what they’re doing to fix it.
- Set up a Facebook group to allow people to discuss the situation and get feedback on their response and solutions.
- Come up with a special offer especially targeted as those offended by the ad.
Right now, I’m pretty confident that the one place that will be increasing it’s consumption of Motrin is… Motrin’s marketing headquarters. They’ve just lost total control of their brand and are in full-scale damage control mode.
So what’s the lesson from this? There are lots of them, but the big one for me:
- Don’t ASSUME you know your audience. If you’re going to speak on their behalf, you should ask them first. Telling a passionate, devoted group of people that you know exactly what they’re thinking is dangerous and risky.
Motrin could have consulted a team of mommy bloggers or baby-wearers before they made the ad, or at bare minimum, could have held a focus group before launching it.
Beware the power of the web to wreak havoc with your brand…
What do you make of the Motrin controversy? Are the mommy-bloggers justified in the havoc they have wreaked? What else should Motrin be doing right now?
Some other blogs analyzing Motrin-mania today:
And here’s one from the Ogilvy PR agency: