All This Motrin Mess Gives Me a Headache

Over the weekend the blogosphere exploded in outrage over a social media campaign created by Johnson & Johnson, the makers of Motrin. The campaign centers around this ad and related content on

Honestly, when I first saw the ad, I didn’t see what the big deal was. My first impression was that this was a hamfisted attempt by a huge company to relate to a target demographic whose members decide what painkiller to purchase for their household. But so what?  It’s an ad for a painkiller.

But that’s the problem. I’m NOT a member of the targeted demographic. I’m not a mom, or a dad for that matter, and for the most part, I don’t get headaches or backaches from carrying babies or anything else.

Then I read the bloggers and I realized why they were angry.

As moms (and some dads) made crystal clear over the weekend, the Johnson & Johnson brand managers for Motrin created a campaign that their customers and potential customers viewed as cyncical, misinformedtone-deaf, horrible and ridiculous. In short, they were offended, if not furious.

Lauren Allen, a self-styled “Mamapreneur”, posted this response to Motrin which capture most of the sentiment of those offended by the social media campaign. Be sure to check out her video as well.

Two immediate thoughts come to mind:

1) Always focus group your advertising among the targeted demographic before you launch your campaign. (If Johnson & Johnson did this, they should demand their money back from their advertising consultants.)

2) Monitor and respond to social media IMMEDIATELY. As far as I can tell, no one from Johnson & Johnson or the Motrin brand team has weighed in on this controversy at all over the weekend. In the absence of their response, these blogs and YouTube videos have racked up views and the controversy was the number 1 and number 4 topic of Twitter on Sunday night.

So what does the Motrin team do to repair the damage to their brand? Here’s what I would advise:

  • Remove the offending video and content from and issue a full and complete apology. Post your apology on the blogs and in the social networks like Twitter, where your brand’s critics have been the loudest.
  • Establish a Consumer Advisory Council for the Motrin brand. Invite the most critical bloggers to participate in the group. Act on their advice.
  • Create and post a new video where your brand managers own up to their mistake.
  • Give your customers, those who believe in Motrin and recommend it, a space where they can voice their views about the product. (In short, remember that you don’t own or control your brand — give your customers a forum where you recognize their co-ownership of Motrin.)
  • After you do all this, take a couple of Motrin and write an apology to former President Bill Clinton. While you’ve trademarked the tagline, “We feel your pain,” as part of your Motrin marketing campaign, the rest of America would say Bubba owns it.

8 responses to “All This Motrin Mess Gives Me a Headache

  1. I think an add campaign, much like this one, on the headache that screwing up this royally, would be fitting.

    Then maybe the tagline: We caused your pain. Motrin will fix it.

  2. Well either they heard you or someone from within gave them the same advice. The ad has been removed from their website and a few blogs are posting copies of apology letters they received.

    I’m thinking the other recommendations you’ve made will be coming along soon too.

  3. They’ve alredy started issuing personal letters from VP of marketing. Not bad for a Sunday night response. judging from the chatter on twitter about this fiasco/gaffe, if motrin comes out alive using one or several of your recomendations, they will have built some serious social media cred.

  4. Thanks for linking to my blog! I love your ideas and suggestions.🙂

  5. I wonder if they knew that last week was International Babywearing Week? LOL!

  6. Thanks for linking to my blog! Great information in this post. 🙂

  7. Pingback: Looking back, Motrin ad pain worsened by not fully embracing social media | Justin case you were wondering

  8. Pingback: » Was Motrin being a pain? Moms, help me out! Web Pro’s Peak Marketing and Web Tips Blog

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