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 www.motrin.com.
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, misinformed, tone-deaf, horrible and ridiculous. In short, they were offended, if not furious.
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 Motrin.com 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.