In case you missed all the hubbub on Twitter, Motrin has yanked its latest ad campaign targeting moms who "wear their babies as fashion accessories" after an online backlash this past weekend. According to yesterday's Ad Age article, "the campaign has been online since Sept. 30 and has been circulating in several magazines for weeks, but it finally caught the attention -- and ire-- of some influential bloggers Friday night before blowing up into a full-fledge cause celebre on Twitter over the weekend. " Take a look at the ad copy and see for yourself. What's the big deal? Well... first and foremost, Motrin failed to fully understand its target audience, and by doing so, it broke a number of rules:
1. The mommy wars are alive and well. If you are an advertiser, don't take sides, don't pretend you understand, and above all-- don't act like you "feel our pain."
2. The ad takes a stab at moms who "wear their babies as fashion accessories," which is problematic (if not offensive) on a number of levels. First- who would want to be accused of something as shallow as that? And second- of course my baby is a fashion accessory! He's way cuter than your expensive purse, too. See my point? Better to just not even go there in the first place.
3. Motrin also makes light of conventional wisdom promoting wearing your baby in a front carrier, a sling or a shwing (shwing - what is that and do I need one?) because then your baby might "cry less." Maybe Motrin didn't get the memo about how new moms will do anything, anything to keep a baby from crying all the time, including propping the car seat on top of the dryer, driving around the neighborhood at midnight, or purchasing any number of bouncy seats, swings (shwings?) and other gadgets designed to keep crying at a minimum-- including baby carriers. We really don't need an ad campaign to second-guess our parenting decisions when we haven't slept or showered in three days.
4. And speaking of, Motrin kinda sorta acts like they get it with "If I look tired and crazy, people will know why" and "I'll put up with the pain because it's a good pain, a worthy pain" but then ruins their entire sell with "it totally makes me look like an official mom." Ummm, what exactly is an 'official mom'? That's like, so, totally weird. And shallow. And kind of offensive. At least to me, not that I'm looking to become an 'official mom' or anything. I mean, really, wasn't childbirth enough? Speaking of pain...
The funny thing about Motrin's gaff is that bad publicity can sometimes be just as effective as good publicity. Honestly, I hadn't given Motrin much thought until recently. I'd really seen it as more of a younger female-targeted menstrual cramp type of brand. The bloating! The cramps!
But now that I know Motrin has moved their target audience to 30 and 40-something moms, I'll admit this particular form of pill popping has a new appeal. With a toddler in the house there are a few things that are causing me a bit of pain (which Motrin just as well could have highlighted in a humorous way instead of getting into the whole icky, shallow mom baby carrier debate), such as: lifting my kid in and out of the stroller, crib, carseat or high chair; plucking him off counter tops, play sets, stairs, the coffee table, the dinner table; chasing after him at the park; or waking up in the morning with unbelievable neck and back pain because I'd been up three times in the middle of the night, bending over the crib in a really awkward way and then clenching my teeth in my sleep, if I slept at all. Sometimes motherhood hurts. See, now, isn't that tagline already better than "we feel your pain"?
You want to know what else makes my neck and back hurt? Sitting at my computer, blogging.