I suspect more than a few folks are scratching their heads about the whole #motrinmoms scandal du weekend. As my friend @fuzheado said, the divergence in reaction might make a good Mars/Venus case study. He didn't get what all the fuss was about, but his wife honed right in on the problem.
Not surprisingly, I'm with the wife. Like the super-vocal moms who took such offense, I immediately "got" the problem with the ad -- its tone. As a mom with a 5-month-old, I "wear" my baby all the time. But it's not because it's "in fashion," because it's "supposedly" is a good bonding experience or because I want to look like "an official mom", as the Motrin ad implies. It's because it works. The kid doesn't cry and I can do whatever needs doing. And of course it's a bonding experience, because any time you meet your child's needs that's the case.
And, yes, sometimes my back hurts. Others out there are admitting this, too, even though the conventional wisdom is that babywearing doesn't hurt if you're doing it right. So, I don't think J&J is far off in targeting moms who wear their babies. They're just going about it wrong. (And let's not dismiss this as a Twitter crisis. For everyone that's tweeting about this, there are many others that are hearing about it, or just seeing the ads themselves and having the same reaction. Twitter is just surfacing the word-of-mouth that would have been happening anyway. )
But all is not lost for the brand. Right now, everyone's saying they will boycott Motrin. This bodes ill for their product for adults and may also impact their product for kids, given they've now offended the target that controls the purse-strings.
The silver lining is that Motrin has gotten everyone's attention. They need to grab this opportunity, while they're in the online spotlight, to connect in a positive way. They need to apologize and retool their condescending message about babywearing. To make sure it gets seen, an ad spend on mommy blogs is in order. Motrin have shown that they're not the experts on babywearing, but they can certainly get involved with and sponsor conversations on the topic -- a topic that inspires an amazing amount of passion. Whaddaya say, J&J?
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Pamela Parker is a former managing editor of ClickZ News, Features, and Experts. She's been covering interactive advertising and marketing since the boom days of 1999, chronicling the dot-com crash and the subsequent rise of the medium. Before working at ClickZ, Parker was associate editor at @NY, a pioneering Web site and e-mail newsletter covering New York new media start-ups. Parker received a master's degree in journalism, with a concentration in new media, from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
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