Motrin’s email response to the onslaught of complaints over babywearing ad

I just received an email from Kathy Widmer, Vice President of Marketing for McNeil Consumer Healthcare, responding to the feedback I left on Motrin’s website last night. Here it is:

Dear Amy –

I am the Vice President of Marketing for McNeil Consumer Healthcare. I have responsibility for the Motrin Brand, and am responding to concerns about recent advertising on our website. I am, myself, a mom of 3 daughters.

We certainly did not mean to offend moms through our advertising. Instead, we had intended to demonstrate genuine sympathy and appreciation for all that parents do for their babies. We believe deeply that moms know best and we sincerely apologize for disappointing you. Please know that we take your feedback seriously and will take swift action with regard to this ad. We are in process of removing it from our website. It will take longer, unfortunately, for it to be removed from magazine print as it is currently on newstands and in distribution.

-Kathy

Kathy Widmer
VP of Marketing – Pain, Pediatrics, GI, Specialty
McNeil Consumer Healthcare
215-273-8192
kwidmer@mccus.jnj.com

What do you think about this response? I’d love to hear from you.

If you have no idea what this is about, please read my previous posts on the subject:
* Motin’s new ad attacks babywearing, insults moms
* We’ve blogged and tweeted the Motrin ad. What can moms do next?

Also, check out the New York Times article: Moms and Motrin

Update 11/17/08: As of just a bit ago, Motrin posted an apology (see below) on their web site, which is now back up after it was entirely taken down for the night.

“With regard to the recent Motrin advertisement, we have heard you.

On behalf of McNeil Consumer Healthcare and all of us who work on the Motrin Brand, please accept our sincere apology.

We have heard your complaints about the ad that was featured on our website. We are parents ourselves and take feedback from moms very seriously.

We are in the process of removing this ad from all media. It will, unfortunately, take a bit of time to remove it from our magazine advertising, as it is on newsstands and in distribution.

Thank you for your feedback. Its very important to us.”

Sincerely,
Kathy Widmer
Vice President of Marketing
McNeil Consumer Healthcare

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145 thoughts on “Motrin’s email response to the onslaught of complaints over babywearing ad”

  1. I think it was an honest mistake and purely bad judgment. I think it’s great that they’re taking responsibility for it and are pulling the ad now that they’ve discovered it is offensive to some of their constituency.

  2. I could see the intent of the ad from the beginning – but keywords and the attitude of the narrator missed the mark. It’s good to let Motrin know the ad needs re-working and great that Twitter and Blogs came through. Kudos to Motrin and Kathy Widmer for quick response.

  3. I think that talk is cheap.

    The ad was insulting, and I don’t really see how it could have been intended as anything else. An after-the-fact “sincere apology” that attempts to excuse the message is as lame as the original ad, in my opinion.

  4. An excellent first step. I still think they will need to do more to rehabilitate the brand.

    My husband was surprisingly angry at this as well. It’s not just moms who are insulted by this. And frankly, the children’s Motrin ad was as bad if not worse, stating that we all secretly want to kill our kids.

  5. I think its great that they responded quickly and appropriately.

    I hope they will re-work the ad and use a better tone and approach when they attempt to address the aches and pains associated with being a mom…not just wearing babies but picking up 45 lb 6 yr olds when they skin their elbow, the constant bending over to tie shoes, lugging a 10 lb diaper bag on one shoulder and a 5 lb purse on the other…

    When it comes to moms (and dads!) needing pain relievers, there’s a ton of material out there.

  6. Textbook example of how to respond quickly to consumer issues & a marketing sh@#-storm.

    Interested to know if their ads were tested with focus groups? (If so, what was the feedback)

  7. Although I am impressed with the response, I think it’s still not an adequate answer. Any woman who has given birth and nurtures and cares for their children would find this offensive. The fact that she has children of her own should have been enough for her to find offense to this ad. Makes me wonder what is wrong with her? Just my humble opinion. I am glad they are removing it from the website. The last thing the children of this generation need is a large company telling women they should be selfish in their concerns regarding their children.

  8. Very interesting reply. Glad to see that they received the messages and took it to heart.

    The ad may have seemed pure to them, but the wording, woman’s complaining nature, and inflection made it horrible.

    Can not wait to see how this plays out when they respond on their website when it finally gets back up and running. Hubby did a tracert and it returns a blank, ping not responding. Either Motrin pulled their whole website, or someone’s running a DDOS on it (can you tell he’s a Techy geek?).

    Thanks again for getting the word out!

  9. They actually responded quickly and took the outrage seriously. That’s a good sign. Makes me think they are listening and will be alot more careful next time with their marketing messages to very specific target audiences–babywearing moms. Even though they didn’t do it intentionally I think a peace offering is needed to curb everyone’s anger.

  10. Can’t wait to hear what moms who read those magazines they are talking about will think of this campaign…

    Maybe next time they will ask a panel of Moms what they think BEFORE they let something like this go.

  11. I believe they are sorry (wouldn’t you be?), I feel sorry for Motrin in a way, but I don’t understand how no one on the corp. side saw how the ad could be construed as offensive.

    I applaud them for taking swift corrective action.

    What more could we ask for?

  12. Yeah…I’m not buying the sincerity…of course she has to say that…but her words in this response do not jobe with the ‘tude in the ad. She may be a mom – but, and I may get strung up for this, there’s a difference between attachment parenting moms and non-ap moms…
    We don’t just wear our babies to bond…there are a million other reasons…

  13. I think it was exactly what any intelligent person expected that they would say. The fact is they’re a drug company. Drug companies benefit when people are sick, physically and mentally. Trusting parental instincts makes moms well. Wellness doesn’t help their business. Plain and simple. Does J&J sell formula, too? because baby wearing makes nursing easier. It’s not “just a mistake” It’s a symbolic representation of underlying values.

  14. It’s a responsible and promt email from Marketing. Still this case opens a lot of questions.

    As much as I like to goof on bad marketing, I can understand where they may have been coming from (although I’m not a mind-reader).

    Pharma is under a lot of pressure to produce expensive drugs (for every 1 drug that makes it to market, about 5,000 others never do). Tens of thousands of ethical and intelligent people work in this particular industry (at least in the clinical/technical components). I realize it’s easy to bash big Pharma (some of it is justified, some not). Because of that, it’s even more important that Marketing exercises special diligence in focusing on the safety and well-being of its customers.

    I think part of the problem is that Pharma is trying to use 20th marketing approaches that were once based on mass communication. It’s also a heavily regulated industry, so it can’t just jump into social media as easily as other industries (not impossible, but much harder).

    Now that we are transitioning into a market of mass connection, these companies are finding it difficult to market their products. When tools like Twitter fire up on a poorly-thought ad, it’s easy to see just how powerful a force mass connection can be. Hopefully McNeil sees the light here.

    I can’t say what McNeil’s intention was, but after seeing the ad, I felt that someone decided (consciously or unconsciously) to use subtle shame as a way to sell Motrin (just my subjective interpretation of the ad). Big mistake in my opinion and whether or not I’m right, I hope McNeil’s marketing department and/or PR firm fully understands the blunder in that kind of approach.

    I’m curious to see how this unfolds. It’s intriguing that Twitter fired this up: I just hope that as much passion is put into promoting the right kinds of pharmaceutical marketing.

  15. I had a feeling if the response was great enough they’d take it off but that is good turn around. I see both sides of the “were they meaning to be condescending” debate but when in doubt you stay away from offending. I’m glad they took it off.

  16. Typical – you get an apology from a mom of 3 and all is fine! How detached is she to approve this spot? Come on, with a 99 to 1 ratio on Twitter against this ad!

    This is her job – as the VP and more importantly, as a mom.

    Kathy needs to get fired – for not QCing this or for QCing this.

    The elitist messages are growing and it is alarming how many women are starting to buy into this crap – pushing aside the mom gene in favor of the greed gene!

  17. Kudos for the quick response and finally getting the ad down. Truly sorry or not… I would not want to be in her shoes right now. It’s going to take some major action to repair damage and this will most likely be a case study for years to come.

  18. Seriously, bigdaddy? They’re taking down the ad within a few days of it going up (and on a sunday night no less) and you want the spokesperson fired? I feel sorry for you. I’m guessing a lot of people are going to be upset that they have to ramp down the venom and self-righteousness. Me, I say kudos to Motrin, and let’s find something a little more important to harness this energy to next time.

  19. Sure, I’m a little hot on the issue. However, the responsiveness was slow by net standards and it does not diminish the act. We are talking J&J here, not a small start-up! Also, had it been Bradly instead of Kathy, well ..

  20. I appreciate the rapid response, and taking down the ad is a good start. It still makes me angry that it was considered appropriate to be so condescending. They have some work to do to rebuild confidence in the corporate philosophy behind their brand…

  21. PRS – Agreed. It is bigger than just this ad, or the stupidity in vetting. It is this “we are marketing, we believe what we think, we know you, buy our product, don’t feel bad, we have empathy, buy our product”. The creatives are moving farther and farther away for us and so to will our wallets from them!

  22. I emailed them as well, I was very disapointed with their ad but I do think it was just bad judgement on their part. I think they were trying to be cute and funny and instead they were completely offensive. I’m glad she wrote you back and they are planning on removing the ad. Thanks Amy for being amazing!

  23. Glad they removed it! Kudos to them for taking action, and on a Sunday night no less. They did have a choice.. Take it down, and try to save a little face, or keep it up, and face the wrath of us Mommy Bloggers. I don’t understand how sympathy= condescending, but as a Mom herself, she should’ve thought twice. Like I said on my blog post, there are many other words they could’ve chosen that wouldn’t have been so demeaning.
    I applaud everyone that undertook this activity with such passion!

  24. While I agree that they are doing the responsible thing, I find it hard to believe that they did not think this would offend anyone. It even offended my husband who enjoys baby wearing. I think they need to seriously reevaluate what they consider to be good advertising. Common sense obviously does not prevail in their office.

  25. I actually don’t think it would be as offensive in print. I highly suspect it was the tone of the voiceover that caused the problems… and maybe the part about being an “official mom”.

  26. boilerplate response.

    agreed, bigdaddy, by net standards it appeared like she was asleep at the wheel, but in all fairness they needed to craft a response that they could build on.

    mistake was less in the offensive message than it was in the lack of strategic thinking. they tried to ‘speak the language’ but it got lost in the translation. crisis management in the world of Twitter requires a presence and knowledge of the medium BEFORE you dive in to the deep end.

    honestly, i think you need to cut the brand a little slack and see what they come up with. humble and transparent would be the right tack.

  27. While I commend Motrin for pulling the ad so quickly in the face of the outrage by mothers everywhere, I do not accept what the response said as a real apology.
    I do not believe what she says in regards to what the intention was of this commercial. The tone of voice and condensation in the actress talking in the commercial is the exact opposite of what they claim they were trying to achieve.
    Motrin got pie in the face and is trying to cover their butt and make themselves look better. This is a PR nightmare they will not recover from quickly

  28. Come on Michelle, the ad was in print! And words like “the baby” should be “your baby”. “Supposedly” implies you’re stupid for following the “in fashion”. Then – “What about me” – makes you sound needy. “it’s for my kid” should read “it’s my baby”. And the whole notion of having to put up with pain to belong to this group is insulting. Also, not respecting one’s craft and doing your homework is inexcusable. The agency responsible should quickly resign along with Kathy, the mom who gave it the pass. And, sorry Amy, too many here just want to give Kathy a pass. Again, this is a VP at J&J.

  29. of course they are sorry! look at all the negative attention this little ad has brought on. they are right, babywearing has become trendy and that means there are hundreds and thousands of bw’ing parents and they have all been offended by motrin! so yes i believe they are indeed sorry, but what are they sorry about? our hurt feelings? doubtful!

  30. and i wanted to also add that it absolutely was offensive in print. i saw it yesterday in a copy of real simple magazine. i read it two or three times trying to make sense of it. of course seeing and hearing the ad on their website was just icing on the cake…

  31. How an ad campaign looks when you’ve got people selling you on the concept of the campaign and when you have a concept of your product and you’re looking at ways to put that concept across is totally different to how the ad looks to the general public.

    I think this is a genuine case of ‘it sounded like a good idea at the time’ and now they have had feedback from the real world they are regretting the decision to run the ad and are maybe seeing it from a different perspective.

    I think the apology is genuine.

  32. I await an answer as to why they ever thought making fun of the reasoned choices mothers make was an effective method of advertising to start with?

    The fact that McNeil Consumer Healthcare *ever* found this acceptable says more than a rushed apology ever could.

  33. That she mentions she is a Mom of 3 is an attempt to give her point of view credibility. It doesn’t.

    What would give her message meaning? If she explained that she understood how the ad was so offensive to so many.

    The glib pseudo-empathetic copy sounded condescending to me and reads as if it were written by a young single man or a very young Woman trying hard to be irreverent and relatable.

    I wish people who don’t understand how to be funny would leave the humor to genuinely to comedy writers like myself. But this isn’t about me.

  34. Okay, so I may be funny but I’m grammatically sloppy when I’m tired. The last stanza should have read:

    “I wish people who don’t understand how to be funny would leave the humor to comedy writers like myself. But this isn’t about me.”

  35. WOW AMY! That’s so awesome that she replied. It sounds like a stock answer, but at least the result is somewhat positive with regards to removing the add. I’ll admit haven’t been following this *that* closely, but I am so appreciative of all the moms who have complained! I’m glad Motrin realizes their insult. What more can one hope for? All those moms who carry their 20 lb children in Bjorns probably are hurting at the end of the day LOL

  36. That was just a big plain, vanilla sorry. She didn’t say anything worthy. That’s great that they pulled it from the web but I still don’t think they did enough. Great job Amy!!!

  37. I think it’s a sorry excuse for an apology. They obviously weren’t trying to have empathy for all that moms do for their kids because they were SO offensive and anyone w/ half a brain and no kids would have been able to take a step back and say “um…this is offensive.” If they wanted to be empathetic, they should have said “carrying your child-anyway, in a sling, w/ your arms, or in a car seat carrier-can make your back hurt. Take motrin.” Not “carrying your baby in a high fashioned sing to look like a real mom will make your back hurt.” Come on guys….

  38. I really think everyone needs to lighten up. What do you want them to do? Sell a limb? I can’t imagine anyone here would seriously believe Motrin would intentionally create an ad that for some reason, offended so many of you. Obviously it was not deliberate, and since they have apologized and removed the ad campaign, I think it’s time we got over this. The ad was NOT that offensive, they were NOT attacking baby wearing, they were only try to show that mom’s have to put aside their own pain for their child. Yes, perhaps they could have done it in a better way, but good lord, is that all we have to do with our lives? We have nothing else to do besides getting our panties in a bunch because a poorly executed ad? Come on ladies.

  39. I am a writer at an ad agency. During my first year, I made a mistake. I overlooked something that I deemed ‘unimportant’ and it blew up in the agency’s, our client’s and my face. It was awful. My boss quickly apologized for MY mistake and things eventually settled down.
    As someone in the business, I see a team saying, OK lets target moms. What do they do? Our product solves these problems (neck, back shoulder pain), what causes this? Hey, what about those harnesses? That causes all the pain that our product solves. I think the tone was meant to be a bit more ‘tongue-in-cheek’ and just didn’t come across right. People don’t realize how important casting talent can be.
    My agency is smaller, I see a project through the end. Larger firms tend to pass things around so much that the people who started it are never the ones to finish. The people who started this ad may not have started with a different approach, and the thoughts of a more playful voice talent. But, by the time the last person got a hold of it, they may not have been aware of the original intent. Is that an excuse? No, probably not, but it could be a reason.
    Advertising is a tricky job, we are like pseudo celebrities but instead of it being our faces, it is the brands that we represent. And our mistakes and oversights are played out in front of the world. Stop for a moment and think, have you ever made a mistake at work? Do you think you should have been fired for it?
    They are fixing it, cut them a little slack.

  40. @Natalie:
    What we want them to do is have enough respect for people from the outset to avoid putting together such an insulting and disgraceful characterization of baby-wearing moms. Speaking as a baby-wearing dad, I have no doubt that the main thing going through the minds of the advertising people at Motrin is not “I’m sorry,” but “quick! Run damage control!” They don’t care what their ads look like as long as it sells more Motrin. This fiasco means something to them only as far as it affects sales, and they’re now predicting that it will affect sales, so they’re trying to look contrite, because they believe that we’ll forgive them and buy lots of Motrin if they do.

    Seriously, everyone. The generic ibuprofen in store-brand medication is exactly the same as Advil or Motrin. Exactly. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And don’t pay extra for a name brand because that’s all you’re paying for–the name. Ibuprofen is ibuprofen, just like water is water and copper is copper.

    You shouldn’t need Motrin’s stupid ad to drive you away from their products. Buy generic, and save your family some money.

  41. @Rob, are you seriously upset a large corporation isn’t thinking of your feelings? I’m not trying to degrade anyone’s feelings here, but getting upset because a company doesn’t care about your feelings is pointless. Trust me, after this I bet they will take more time and effort to make sure they’re ads don’t have an offensive under tone, but it won’t be because your feelings got hurt. It’ll be because they want to sell their product. Expecting anymore is going to leave you incredibly frustrated.

    Yes, companies should be held accountable, but like I said, I truly believe Motrin’s intentions were honorable. I think if people look for things to offend them, they’ll find it. I don’t take their ad as an attack on baby wearing (and seriously, when did baby wearing become such a noble cause?), they were trying to convey that mother’s set aside they’re own pain for their child. That’s it. Yes, I totally agree the ad could have been implemented in a much better way, but it’s just a commercial.

    If you as mother believe baby wearing is a beautiful thing that allows you and your child to bond, that is wonderful. I love the concept myself. But don’t make this into a crusade. It’s just a commercial, it’s just one pain killer, and it’s only Monday. Let’s take a step back, accept that they’ve apologized and removed the campaign and move on to more important things.

  42. so what was wrong with the ad? viewers of the ad are the problem. people read to much into things sometimes to see something that isn’t there. the ad wasn’t the greatest but definetly shouldn’t of been offensive in anyway. lighten up.

  43. What a load. I think a avery appropriate ad and they should not have been apologizing for anything. As a father of two who also carried his kids around the old fashioned way and not in some gimmick sling or pouch, get a life folks. If Motrin wants to appeal to THIS particular audience segment, let them. If it does not speak to you, so what? Ask them to do an ad that does speak to you. Hope you feel special now that you are sooooo empowered and “took down Motrin”. I hope you have chronic back pain as I do.

  44. Hit em where it hurts. Buy generics. It’s the same dang drug, just doesn’t make you pay for crappy marketing.

    (RN/Midwife here).

    I don’t buy brand names and personally, I think that medication and medical device advertising should be outlawed.

    Anyone else tired of the “increased incidence of sexual side effects” ads?

    Glad you got a quick response, but it was mamby pamby PC speak. Honestly, they only care if they’re marketing isn’t showing an increase in sales. And they want to keep press down from negatively preceived ads. So, I wonder if they’re seeing low sales and getting some backlash.

    WTG speaking your mind. We should all do it more.

  45. I watched the ad again. It’s so snotty, but that’s besides the point.

    I’m wondering, if they had shown a stereotypical “native” person wearing a baby (as they have for all of time) the lash back of finger pointing would be unbelievable.

    As well, doesn’t this ad insult our intelligence. If you are using a sling or what have you to hold your child and it is causing you pain, wouldn’t you:
    A. Stop doing it (duh)
    B. Figure out if you’re doing something wrong.

  46. As a mother of two I honestly don’t understand all this “outrage.” It’s a commercial. Maybe it’s a little condescending, but why do you some of you feel the need to take it so personally?

    There are things in this world worth fighting for. There are times to take a stand. This is not one of them. Pick your battles and, please, let them be ones that actually matter. It’s communities like this that give women such a bad reputation on the internet.

    Really, who cares?

  47. Nice to see them actually apologizing for their judgment error, of course some people will keep their butthurt whining going for a while because customers love being offended (don’t believe me? cashier for a week).

    You’re an idiot for buying motrin over generics anyway.

  48. you are much more important than me because my email did not get a response! i just think it is terrible that they didn’t test out the ad and i also think it really really stinks that it’s going out in print to all those who might be “on the fence” about babywearing, etc….and they will have this terrible negative view.

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  50. I think that it is wonderful that there was a response and that it was so positive. I hope that this publicity for babywearing is used to educate people regarding the benefits of babywearing! This really could be a BIG eye opener for many!

  51. I’m pleased with that response. They acknowledge that they messed up and they state what they plan to do to make it better. I think it’s good and I hope that they will think twice next time. People mess up.

  52. I’m a work-at-home dad and copywriter with some advertising experience… this sounds like McNeil’s ad agency conducted some focus groups, scanned some parenting blogs, and figured “Hey we can write some snarky copy that’ll sell our product to moms.”

    Here’s where they went wrong:

    Screw up #1. The ad brands slings as a fad (if not orthopedically dangerous) and thus implies that anyone who “fell for it” and uses a sling is somehow an idiot.

    Screw up #2. The copy uses the term “those things” referring to the slings, but the way it’s phrased, it seems to refer to children. Like somehow moms secretly hate their kids.

    Screw up #3. Even if parents do occasionally share less-than-affectionate feelings (resentments) about parenting or their kids online, it DOESN’T mean they want this to be the national perception.

    Screw up #4. The tone of the ad seems as if it were written by a baby-hating twentysomething who thinks parents are dupes and rubes. It’s not snarky and cute, it’s just rude.

    * * *

    Now here’s the ad they SHOULD have done…

    [scene] A nursery, a worried mom paces around cradling her feverish child. It’s dark outside, and the clock says 2:30. She’s worried and wishes the fever would break. Then she remembers the child’s Motrin [goes to medicine cabinet].

    [scene] Child is peacefully asleep, fever broken. Mom looks relieved. Now it’s time she takes care of herself (i.e., her backache)…goes back to the medicine cabinet, gets adult Motrin, goes back to bed.

    [scene] Mom in bed, peacefully sleeping.

    Tag: “Motrin – For your child, for you, for peace of mind.”

    My wife and I (both writers) came up with that one in 5 minutes. See, it’s not that hard to write an ad that hits the target.

  53. I am glad you got a response, I did not yet to my complaint against the ad. The Babywearing community went wild over this and I can’t imagine how many e-mails they got!! Happy International Babywearing week!!

  54. Geez, people. I get if you don’t think this is a big deal, but don’t slam the people who DO. Obviously some people DO think this was “worth fighting for.” Every cause is important to those who believe in it. I don’t really care much about a lot of movements but that doesn’t mean I think they’re a waste of time. This was a good example of the power of pissed-off moms with computers. We’re a huge demographic with a very strong voice and I’m glad to see corporations taking us seriously. If the commercial didn’t bother you, then move on…don’t sit around on a blog discussing how stupid it is to…ummm…sit around discussing it. Ooops.

  55. You know, why is it we can get all fired up about an ad campaign to the point where we shut it down and yet we still have no meaningful maternity leave in this country?

    It frustrates me to see how poorly organized we are and how, unless something pisses us off, we don’t bother to harness our power to achieve real change. When are we going to focus our power on the things that really matter?

    M

  56. From Beth’s comment above:

    “Any woman who has given birth and nurtures and cares for their children would find this offensive.”

    I actually find that offensive…LOL. 😉 I am pretty sure I’ve given birth 3 times and definitely care for my children, but wasn’t offended by the ad.

    I think the ad was totally uninformed, but not offensive.

    I also think it’s curious that some people leaving comments think it was done on purpose…that they knew it would be offensive. What purpose would that serve? Did they think baby-wearing-haters (if they exist) would laugh and buy up Motrin by the crate full? Come on.

    Definitely a dumb move on their part, I agree, but let’s put it all into perspective.

  57. You people need to get a life..seriously. Oh wait, you’re all stay-at-home moms so you have lots of free time to vent on the Internet…

  58. I’m not a mom, but hope to be someday. I have to admit, when I was at the grocery store today, I thought of you as I picked up tylenol instead of motrin.

  59. I am shocked at how sensitive people are. Maybe they missed the part of the ad: “It’s a good kind of pain; it’s for my kid.” But then again people probably stopped watching the ad by that point to log onto their precious blogs to begin ranting. Haha

  60. If only men can tweet the hell out every time an ad that makes men look stupid comes on (irresposible father/husband/boyfriends), Twitter will be down and the advertising industry will go bankrupt.

    Get over it, woman !!

  61. I’m going to bet you women cry more than the children you insist on wearing around like fashion. Oh wait, it’s bonding, my bad. Really, get the hell over yourselves.

  62. Good response on Motrin’s part, though it would have been interesting to hear Widmer explain where the ad team was coming from. They always have a theory. I would be interested to know what this one was.

    My husband found the ad totally innocuous — he compared it to an add for cholesterol medicine. Like, we all know that we should cut down on saturated fats, but we don’t always do that, so medicine can help pick up some of the slack for us.

    Let’s unravel that. Is the ad essentially saying: we all know that babywearing is the right thing to do, but it’s a drag, and Motrin will help make our duty tolerable?

    As someone said, this may be a good Venus/Mars example, because such an interpretation makes NO sense to me. Babywearing is supposed to be idyllic. I can understand a woman admitting or complaining that FOR HER it’s not (and that it’s actually sometimes a pain in the neck — what the Motrin ad seems to be trying, almost conspiratorially, to get us to admit), but then why is the ad so derisive of the proven benefits of babywearing? It uses the terms “in theory” and “supposedly” when referring to its “bonding” function, and it practically sneers at the notion that babywearing would make a baby cry less.

    The disdainful tone to the ad makes me feel like they’re pitting one kind of woman against another — creating yet another iteration of the age-old divide between the “good” woman and the woman who strays from her socially prescribed role. The ad tells us that in the end, the bad woman sucks it up in the name of being a good mom, or an “official” mom, but the drug company is there to help her with the cost of this sacrifice.

    Isn’t it strange that the purveyor of this unsavory message is a drug company trying to make money and appeal to as wide an audience of moms as possible? I think it shows just how confused women can be about women, and I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing.

  63. Want to know HOW you get to be a VP at a top ad agency? By NOT being an involved parent! Maybe Kathy Widmer should have asked her nanny what it was like to carry her three daughters around.

  64. Come on… really? Is this really something to get your panties in a wad about?

    I guess if you look tired and crazy, we are just supposed to assume you *are* tired and crazy. Right? Wouldn’t want to assume that motherhood caused any of the tired and crazy look.

    Also, no one should “feel sorry” for the people who built the ad campaign. Likely they just got promotions because of the publicity this gave Motrin and J&J. Even if they lose a few “tired and crazy” customers, they will have gained from the notoriety. As they say in advertising, any publicity is good publicity!

    Oh, and for the one commenter who said “…tone of voice and condensation…”, the word is “condescension”. Not to be condescending myself, but condensation refers to something ENTIRELY different with respect to this topic.

    And lastly, not to take the side of J&J in this, but the apology was clearly well thought-out and forthright. You little tweeters should be grateful that your voice was heard in the first place, so take your apology… and then go take some midol.

    🙂 OK, that last part was like totally incendiary, but I couldn’t resist. I, myself, am a father of three. And I’ve seen tired and crazy.

  65. I was surprised to hear about your blog this morning in the front page of our local paper (I live in the same town as you). I have read Jeannette LaBlanc’s website “Crunchy” for long before she had her first child (who has to be at least 7) and is certainly one of the earlier and most famed attachment parenting mommy bloggers. I am sure that you have seen it as your name and her topics are so similiar (at least they were when you started your blog).

  66. I believe that J&J responded very well and to the blogging mommies. It was an honest mistake on their part and they are taking ownership of it.

    See Kathy Widmer’s second response to the public on Motrin’s website. I happen to know her very well and for all of you that believe her reponse was unemotional, believe me she took your comments to heart.

    Personal attacks are not necessary as this is the mistake of not only entire marketing department but also the advertising agency they worked with.

    And to Eric’s comment above, any publicity is NOT good publicity. I have worked in both marketing and advertising.

  67. I am one of the mothers who saw the print ad before the internet ad (it was in the November issue of Real Simple to which I subscribe). Truthfully? The print ad wasn’t offensive. I didn’t agree with their decision to highlight the “fashion” aspect but the wording was different.

    When I saw the internet ad I found the tone to be derisive and unflattering. Wearing your baby when done properly will cause you less pain then carrying them in your arms or in a fifteen pound plastic carrier.

    I am not a stay at home mother, in fact I work and go to school and still manage to wear my kids and take a whole three minutes to get on the internet, to add my two cents worth.

  68. why did it happen in the first place just came across this blog , even though the vp apologized and states she is a mother of 3 who was the one that okayed this to go through if it was this vp why didnt she catch on first , she must have thought it was fine until all the outrage came about, you would think a company of that magnitude would have focus groups too
    give opinions, this campaign should never of happened ……..no excuses…….

  69. It’s a good response and it shows that even big companies can’t afford the negative publicity these days. as a small business owner who sells ultrasound supplies I think it’s imperative that we always maintain a positive reputation. After all, in our current economic landscape, we have to do all we can to keep our clients satisfied.

  70. This is a great and nice read. Your blog is written in a way that it’s so easy to read and understand. I’m a lover of your site. Thank you for sharing this data.

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