How Motrin angered mothers and underestimated the Twitter response

There was a firestorm over the weekend, involving a viral Motrin campaign that mentioned “baby wearing,” the practice of carrying a child in a sling or wrap. It made the mistake of dismissing it as a fad, which did not amuse some mothers:

Online Moms did not respond to the ad by racing out for Motrin. They were offended by the suggestion that they carry their babies to be “fashionable”. They were outraged at the idea that they look “crazy”. They vehemently disagreed with the phrasing that “in theory” carrying your baby around is a good idea.

It ignited a ferocious response on Twitter and YouTube, where it was one of the most commented-upon topics.

When reached for comment, the PR company was surprisingly unaware of the impact Twitter can have. Big mistake.

It’s a somewhat ironic situation as Johnson and Johnson is one of the savvier corporations when it comes to social media, by engaging medical bloggers, and having their own blog.

The event is a testament to the instant influence that Twitter, and can sink a pharmaceutical marketing campaign in hours.

Pharmalot has more, and shows us the offending ad.

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  • Bongi

    very poor taste ad. amazing that whoever came up with that was allowed to go ahead and make the ad.

  • Anonymous

    We Americans are hypersensitive. I thought the ad was funny. This ad is just funny social comment. It is not like they are saying a certain race carries babies on their head so they need motrin. We are turning into a nation of offended people.

  • SarahW

    That is one bad ad. I wonder whose brilliant idea that was.

    Americans may be hypersensitive or no, but that hardly is an issue when you are trying to sell a product. The one group you don’t want to send running away from you is the group you are selling to.

  • Marc Monseau


    I’m sure you saw this already, but in case you didn’t, Kathy Widmer, VP of Marketing at McNeil, had a post to JNJBTW providing her perspective on this as well.

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