Every once and a while, I’ll be talking to a friend. She’ll be telling me about a situation in her life. I know nothing about what she is going through. I’ve never experienced it. I can’t relate to it. I can only imagine the joy, pain, terror, fear, or whatever emotion she is sharing. But, as a woman—or maybe just as me—I find myself wanting to connect, to bond, to relate. And, I’ll admit, at times—hopefully not more often than not, but who knows—I find myself telling said friend that I understand what she is going through. I even have found myself sharing similar stories—things I have been through that I think are similar anyway.
Because most people are kind, especially friends, they typically don’t tell you that you don’t get it. That your experience in no way relates. They just bide your bonding attempts with a smile and when the timing is right, they go on with their story, hoping for a listening ear and empathetic understanding.
My question is: Is that right? Is it OK for us to smile and nod, knowing that our friend can’t relate with us. Today, in a groundswell of overwhelmingly negative proportions, Motrin and Johnson & Johnson friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike have answered this question. NO! They have shouted that IT IS NOT OK TO ACT LIKE YOU UNDERSTAND WHEN YOU DON’T. Don't believe me? Visit KatjaPresnal's Skimbaco blog and read her recent post entitled, "Motrin Giving Moms a Headache." Watch the video to see how moms unite to say: YOU DON'T GET MY PAIN!
But first, if you haven't heard, let me tell you what the hubbub is all about...
In its Mom-Alogue campain—an online video advertisement for Motrin Pain Reliever—Motrin claims “We Feel Your Pain”—by your, it means all you mommies out there. At the same time it:
- Questions baby-wearing mom's motives (moms that wear baby carriers) by first stating that moms wear them as a fashion statement and next, claiming they are “Supposedly” bonding with their babies. Supposedly???
- Mentions that babies cry less in baby carriers, but questions if moms cry more, using the phrase “What about me?” What if it were a sacrifice? Don’t think it is, but just asking… would it be so bad?
- Claims that baby-wearing moms strain their back, their neck, and shoulders, but endure the pain all to make them look like an “official mom.” Because we need a reason to look official. Having and loving our babies isn’t enough.
- States, after providing all of this info on baby-wearing moms that they obviously SO DON’T UNDERSTAND, “When I look TIRED and CRAZY, people will understand.” WHAT?????
A second Mom-Alogue video in the same campaign is based on the story line of “What if you could say what you thought?” Cute, huh? Has the makings of a great campaign, except for the part where they say that moms would “Kill” to get some sleep, the sleep we need so we won’t be “Committed,” and then that mentally unhealthy word again, but this time to describe our kiddos, “Crazy.” Not once, but twice!
As The REAL Problem points out:
Let’s be honest - when a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Indonesia rocks the house, yet search.twitter.com pulls up #Motrinmoms as the lead story, somewhere, there’s a disconnect. But it’s a disconnect that, when you think about it, makes perfect sense.
I’m not siding with Motrin. They screwed up, granted. I’m ok with that. Companies screw up all the time. They fix the problem, and it usually doesn’t make the radar screen. The problem is, Motrin happened to screwed up at the expense, and in the face of, one of the most vocal, quickest-to-blog, “strongest-to-band-together-and-form-one-opinion-like-the-Borg” collectives out there - The Mommy-Blogging community.
So… Motrin screwed up and the mommy-blogging world joined forces in outrage and voiced that the campaign not only shows that Motrin DOESN’T UNDERSTAND, that the words are INAPPROPRIATE and OFFENSIVE. Now what? Motrin clearly knows how moms feel about the matter? What’s the old adage? It isn’t what happens to you. It’s how you handle it that shows your true character. OK… I was totally paraphrasing that and could have majorly gotten it wrong, but the thought remains and makes me question: How will Motrin respond? The ads remain on their website. They clearly haven’t felt the need to remove them. I doubt their marketing team is enjoying a weekend right now. But, what is going on in the strategy meetings? What are the solutions? Ideas on the table (by table, I mean in blogaritaville) are:
- Pull the ad. I mean, J & J is familiar with recalls, right?
- Hire a Chief Mom Officer. After all, we are the target audience, right?
- Fire the Ad Agency. Get a new one. Hmmmm... need more info to comment here.
- Do more targeted focus groups, using moms this time—IRL or using social media. Right on! After working in Corporate America for more than 10 years, I am familiar with budget constraints and the all-too-popular phrase "Do more with less." So, traditional focus groups may be out. But, you can't tell me anyone is underestimating the power of social media at this point, especially when it comes to the virtual mommy force!
- Before you hold that focus group, determine who the target market really is. One of my favorite pics of all time is one where my baby-wearing hubby is mowing the lawn with my now 7YO on his back. Call it fashionable. Call it "official." Call it crazy. Call him a mom. Call him a dad. Call it whatever you want, but know who you are talking about and who you are talking to when you write it. BTW: He bought the baby carrier, not me!
What else??? I am all for forgiveness and giving someone a second chance and Johnson is my maiden name, so I'll commit to being understanding, but Motrin has got to pony up. Pull the ad. Show us your good cards that admit that you didn't understand our pain until NOW! Give us all a free cruise to the Mediterranean and listen to us. It'll cost you less than the campaign you made millions 'o moms mad over!