Part II — Memo to retailers: Don’t mess with moms!

I’m taking my own series on marketing and mommy blogs on a bit of a tangent. Last week, I talked about the buying power of the mom demographic. This week, the pain reliever Motrin made a case study out of why marketers should tread carefully when targeting the mom demographic.

Over the course of 24 hours last weekend, Motrin released what they probably thought was a clever and edgy new ad targeting mothers of young children, and then reeled under the collective fury of just the demographic they were targeting, eventually taking down their website and then going so far as to issue a hat-in-hand apology.

Here’s the ad that started it all:

Now, I don’t find the ad offensive per se, but I do find it patronizing and poorly thought-out. Moms don’t wear babies in slings to be fashionable, and slings worn properly shouldn’t hurt at all. Insinuating that you need to wear your child like a badge of honour to somehow legitimize yourself as a mother is a bit over the top.

Offended mothers across the Internet took to their keyboards. The day the ad was posted, one mother was tweeting about it on Twitter and just a single hour after that, the hashtag #motrinmoms was the most popular search term on Twitter. Less two days later, at least two moms had created video responses to the Motrin ad, Technorati showed more than 1700 blog posts on the subject, and the Vice President of Marketing for MacNeil Consumer Healthcare had issued the following apology on the front page of and via e-mail to a large number of the very mothers who complained about the original ad.

This kind of one-day turnaround, from ad début to apology, would have never happened in a Web 1.0 – or earlier – world. Memo to marketers: moms are online in massive numbers, and they’re not afraid to harness the power of social media. Court them at your own risk!


Danielle Donders shares her digital parenting experiences with us on Thursdays. She is a proud MommyBlogger at Postcards from the Mothership, and vaguely remembers a day job studying the tools of social media in the context of government communications.

2 Responses to Marketing to Mommy Bloggers: Part II

  1. vickiz
    Nov 25, 2008

    The swiftness with which this unfolded, which was definitely facilitated by technology, was fascinating. Do you think technology as swiftly almost created a backlash against the backlash, if that makes any sense? Certainly, this is very different than a group of parents showing up with placards on the steps of the manufacturer’s building.

    As interesting, in the hands of the kids instead of the parents this time, is the Facebook uprising about the proposed driver licensing changes. Again, that seems to be catching fire and catching attention very rapidly, eliciting a different response than a group of teens with placards at Queen’s Park would prompt.

  2. Kristin
    Nov 28, 2008

    It certainly was a very impressive reaction, and goes to show the power that blogs and other social networking platforms have for raising awareness and getting the message out there. Just imagine the results if we could harness that kind of energy and enthusiasm for a cause such as this one:

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