Does Kathy Widmer Read My Blog?

No sooner than I posted my thoughts on how the folks at Johnson & Johnson should handle the Motrin backlash did I come across this email from Kathy Widmer, the VP of marketing responsible for the Motrin brand. The email was posted on several blogs in the last few hours.

Here it is in its entirety:

Dear _____:

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 Widmer
VP of Marketing – Pain, Pediatrics, GI, Specialty
McNeil Consumer Healthcare
(Email and phone number omitted for Ms. Widmer’s privacy)

In my view, this step by Ms. Widmer will stop the forest fire, but still leaves some smouldering embers. Ms. Widmer and her team still need to figure out a way to engage the customers who co-own the Motrin brand. (See my previous post for my recommendations on what needs to be done.)

At Sprint Nextel where I work, we successfully targeted this same demographic in a partnership with Sauve called, “In the Motherhood.”

What’s made “In the Motherhood” successful is real moms wrote us with their ideas for the episodes in the series. They were in control. The whole program communicated that our company, and Sauve, understood our customers.

The response has been so strong that ABC is developing In the Motherhood as a television series for the 2009 season. Supposedly, ABC is planning to continue product placement as part of the series. Perhaps Ms. Widmer will spend her marketing dollars to place Motrin in an upcoming episode.

It wouldn’t be a bad move.


Disclaimer: As stated elsewhere on this blog, the views expressed on this blog are solely mine. They do not reflect Sprint Nextel’s positions, strategies or opinions. For those please visit here.


4 responses to “Does Kathy Widmer Read My Blog?

  1. Oh I am impressed, not only with the power of social media and the blogging world but with the way the agency handled it and how quickly.

    The good thing about these little marketing or PR mishaps is that the corporate world learns more about its consumers and when they apply these lessons they are better able to meet our needs. It then becomes a win for both sides.

    P.S. I’m a Sprint customer (have been for about 5 of the past 7 years) and a mom. How did I miss this ‘In the Motherhood’ thing? Now that I know about it, I’ll have to check it out.

  2. Couldn’t agree more April. Whereever we work or whatever we do, we tend to learn more from mistakes than from succcesses.

    Thanks for your cell phone business. We are working hard to improve and make things better for you. Let me know if I can help you with any account issues that come up.

  3. I know I face the wrath of many Tweeps, but I didn’t get Motrin outrage/calls for boycott.

    It’s an interesting case study in advertising/PR/social media and monitoring. I guess we give kudos to Kathy Widmer and her team for their Sunday form letter and action to slow the burn.

    I just have never expected much from advertising since art/commerce of Apple “1984” or VW “Pink Moon” or various cool European ads.

    It was an interesting weekend meme, yielding some passionate posts/tweets, but it made me think we all miss Election intensity a little bit 😉

  4. I miss it Adam, but I am a DC-based policy wonk at heart… we’re all a little different than the rest of the country!

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