Motrin: Epic Fail

I wasn’t going to blog about it since I figured it had been done to death. My Google alerts were wall to wall on it but after reading some more linked material sent in by a friend (thanks Ads!) yesterday I changed my mind. Also it ties in nicely with yesterday’s blog post. So what follows is an exercise in how to alienate your target market by a drug-brand (painkiller) named Motrin.

Here’s what all the fuss is about:

It’s not the worst ad in the world but it is condescending to its target-market and has resulted in a storm of anti-Motrin sentiment – especially across Twitter. 2000+ protest tweets (calling the ad “stupid”, “insensitive” and “offensive”, for it to be pulled and a complete boycott of the brand) in just a few hours made it the number-one trend on search.twitter.com – eclipsing the earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia.  

Eventually, Motrin pulled the ad off their site and trashed the entire campaign in all other media.

What was scary about this whole deal is that apparently no-one at McNeil Consumer Healthcare (the holding company where the VP in charge of Motrin is a mother of 3) nor the agency behind the viral (TAXI) were tracking Twitter or the blogs despite the fact that viral launched on the Motrin website. In fact, it appears neither entity knew about the fallout until one blogger (a mother and a PR consultant) contacted the company directly. Social media 101 fail. 

Worse yet, no-one sat back and listened to the final ad before it went live and thought “Y’know what? Maybe calling our target market crazy is not a good idea.” Seriously? Copywriting 101 fail.

So there you have it an interesting case-study in how not to talk to your target market and the power of social media networks.

What do you think? Do these moms have a case against an insensitive brand or do they just have way too much time on their hands (seeing as how the babies are carried in slings. Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)? Did it warrant all the ruckus or are people just too damned PC for their own good? 

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4 thoughts on “Motrin: Epic Fail

  1. I saw that. It’s missing 3 key elements:

    We’re sorry.
    We screwed up.
    How do we fix it?

    A quick paraphrase of a key piece of advice from Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture.
    Guessing from their “apology”, they’ve never seen it.

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