Marketing Headache

Motrin got “Twitter Jacked” over this ad, in an attempt to appeal to “babywearing” moms supposedly looking for pain relief. The response was simply not what they had hoped, prompting an official apology:

On behalf of McNeil, I’m sorry if you found this advertisement insulting. We are are in the process of removing it from our website. Unfortunately, it will take longer for us to remove this advertisement from magazines as several are currently on newsstands and in distribution.

One bright spot is that we have learned through this process – in particular, the importance of paying close attention to the conversations that are taking place online. It has also brought home the importance of taking a broader look at what we say and how it may be interpreted

The videos are getting a fair amount of views, and the backlash has caught the folks at J&J by surprise. As their response to the Tylenol tragedy in 1982 still serves as a case study in successful crisis management the world over, we expect them to learn from this.

David Armano provides some excellent advice:

1. Design Your Website For Rapid Response
If your site has to be taken down in order to respond to a crisis, re-design it so that it can be updated quickly and easily without having to throw your organization and agencies into a panic. Worry about your response strategy, not the design of your site.

2. Think Like A Blogger, Tweeter, Community & Citizen Journalist
Look at how quickly the mommy community organized and produced an authentic video. It’s because they don’t have legal guidelines holding them back. You probably do—but of you can figure a way around them, you can fight authenticity with authenticity, which looks less like a fight and more like a conversation anyway.

3.  Have A Google Strategy In Place
Aside from perhaps smoothing things over with the offended, the real incentive for any organization to engage in situations like this is to influence the search results and digital trail so that your organization presents well on them. The best way to do this is to have people saying good things about you which means you have to give them something good to say and can’t force it. The end goal needs to be helping people. The ROI will be a much more positive long tail.

I hope this doesn’t lead to less creativity, as Catharine Taylor argues:

So what’s a client to do? Developing a thicker skin is always a good first step, but so far in the history of advertising that’s only been achieved by the bravest of marketers. Then, there’s the art of learning not to listen to every person that complains about your advertising, realizing that if the ad is moving the sales needle, certain voices don’t matter. (In this case, the firestorm surrounding this Motrin ad doesn’t seem to make that an option.). Then, there’s the decision to run increasingly conservative advertising, until fully addressable, trackable TV advertising gives marketers enough insight into their ROI to realize those kinds of ads are ineffective. Until that time, the conclusion I draw is that much advertising will go plain vanilla, and that’s too bad for all of us.

Wonder what reactions some of the old “Excedrin Headache” spots might inspire in today’s world. This one, for example, might enrage Shoeaholics:

The bottom line: keep a close watch on your brands by monitoring social media continuously and join the conversation.

One Response

  1. Shortcut: let’s check the Vitrue’s SMI (social media index). Seems buzz around Motrin is on the wane.

    Motrin’s association with the words “mommy blog,” “babywearing” and “offensive” were also very high. Associations between the brand and the words “angry,” “controversy,” “backlash” and “protest” were somewhat lower, however.

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