Motrin, Twittermoms and the Power of Social Networking

If you haven’t noticed, the topic of strategy, social networks, and the importance they play in developing your business or advertising campaign is frequently discussed here.

Apparently Motrin hasn’t.

Motrin Mom Babywearing Commercial

As a new TV commercial for Motrin has hit the airwaves, their target market of baby-wearing moms hit the social networking scene, specifically @twittermoms.

If your not familiar with twitter, it’s a social networking platform allowing people and groups to interact with each other–constrained to 140 characters are less.

Why is this important?

Because the strategy behind Motrin’s “baby wearing” TV commercial looks to capture a slim audience of moms who are more focused on the importance of fashion than the importance of childcare.

This can be more apparent than in the following two lines in the commercial; “Supposedly, it’s a real bonding experience.” and “It’s for my kid.”

And this is where the voices and opinions of Motrin’s real target audience spread across social networking sites yesterday.

From Twitter, Facebook, blog articles and YouTube video’s, the topic of Motrin’s TV commercial and “@twittermoms” could be heard throughout the Internet.



This is important for two reasons.

First and foremost, it demonstrates the importance of not only locking down your strategy but making sure– really sure –you know who your target audience is. More-so that you understand them.

Do you understand their wants, there needs, their desires, and exactly how they can use your product based on specific scenarios?

Obviously the ad agency who handles the Motrin account missed the boat.

In concept, they took an interesting premise of targeting baby wearing mom’s and then presented the TV idea to Motion for approval.

Motrin, being in the pain relief business shouldn’t be expected to understand every nuance of baby wearing moms. And the same goes for any company.

The question then becomes, didn’t anyone think to actually talk to the target audience? Maybe even run the commercial past a focus group for feedback from real baby wearing moms?

Maybe they did, I don’t know.

What I do know is that there’s a very large and vocal group of baby-wearing moms who have been voicing their dissenting opinion of Motrin’s new TV commercial.

Which brings me to my second point

The power of social networks. In this specific case, Twitter.

To those who have heard of but who haven’t actually taken time to join in the conversation generally tend to see it is either another fad chat room or an easy way to market their business and products for a quick buck.

The latter, generally ends up as lame twitter marketing. Using spam tactics and worst practices and techniques for pimping their wares. These are the same twitters who quickly get blocked because no one wants to listen to their lame pitches.

If Motrin hasn’t heard about this already, they will today.

Social networking is a powerful force. And when combined with a vocal and dominating group such as baby-wearing wearing moms ( #twittermoms ) it’s a force that can easily make or break a company.

And to borrow a quote from a Spiderman movie, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Not to those who are wielding the power, but to the companies who should be listening to them.

Like with any other large or small company, Motrin had, and still has, the opportunity to listen to their target audience.

They are not afraid to voice their opinions. And from my perspective, you can learn the most from negative opinions. Because it’s the negative feedback that will tell you exactly what is wrong with your product. And if you know what’s wrong with your product, you can take steps to fix it.

It looks like Motrin has some fixing to do.

That is, if they’re listening.

I remember watching the Lone Ranger on TV. In addition to the “Hi-Ho Silver, away!”, I also remember Tonto and his loyalty to the Lone Ranger.

In many ways, Tonto could be compared to a PR agency,

Tonto was always by his side and watching his back. He kept his eyes and ears open, and advised the Lone Ranger of opportunities and potential problems.

You see, Tonto also had the ability to put his ear to railroad tracks and hear the train coming from miles away.

Motrin could learn a lot from Tonto.

Motrin, there’s a train coming. Can you hear it?

If you’re interested in joining the conversation on twitter, you can follow me @kristofcreative.

I look forward to tweeting with you.


A Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman responds with statement sent to

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 newsstands and in distribution.

Please post your thoughts and comments below. Thanks!


  1. @amaaanda

    Maybe their focus group wasn’t as high-strung as some of the twitter moms! I mean come on, we all knew those slings were for curb appeal, they shouldn’t get all upset just because everyone KNOWS now.

  2. Kristof

    @amaaanda: Thanks for your perspective. I do believe, however, that was one of the primary reasons twittermoms were so vocal about the TV spot.

    In addition to baby slings serving a functional purpose (more easily carry your child with you while still being able to use both hands) it also helps create a tighten bond between mother and child. And, babies carried in slings also tend to cry less. There are also physiological benefits to premature babies, albeit the commercial didn’t reference that subject.

    So when the Motrin commercial categorized “baby wearing” as a fashion accessory — like wearing earrings — twitter moms took exception and voiced their dissent.

    There were also two other points Twitter moms were making.

    First, that wearing a baby sling correctly doesn’t hurt your back — so inferring it did was essentially telling moms they were doing it wrong. And secondly, a new mother referring to her baby as “kid” was condescending and flippant.

    Being a father myself, this was actually the first thing I noticed and, frankly, caught me off-guard. I have yet to hear a mother refer to her newborn as “kid”. That term generally isn’t used until years past the age of being carried in a sling. And then, only when there is more than one child. But that’s just my perspective.

    Again, appreciate your thoughts. I think it’s important for all sides to voice their opinions.

  3. Deirdre O'Dowd

    What a wonderful treat it was to see Ciaran O’Dowd looking so well after taking MOTRIN on your commercial yesterday Sunday February 1, 2009. From now on I am going to purchse MOTRIN and so are all of my friends. THREE CHEERS FOR CIARAN AND MOTRIN!

  4. incomeric

    Maaaan, you know there is such thing in the web like search engine, if you don’t, go there to understand why this post is bullsh*t

  5. Kristof

    @incomeric –

    I’m not sure how the existence of Google changes anything about the focus of this article or the importance of monitoring social networks — but I welcome hearing more details about your thoughts on this. Thanks.