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Sunday, November 16, 2008

I Am Thankful for... Not Being on Motrin's Marketing Team Right Now!  

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?????
But wait, there’s more…

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 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!

What next?

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12 bits of juicy gossip: to “ I Am Thankful for... Not Being on Motrin's Marketing Team Right Now!

  • Kristina P.
    November 16, 2008 at 4:26 PM  

    I think that people can be sympathetic regardless if they have experienced something or not. I may not be able to empathize, but I understand pain and heartache, which I think can be a universal language.

    I would never say "I know how you feel." but you can be a shoulder to cry on.

    I need to do some more checking about this Motrin faux fas.

  • Shelle-BlokThoughts
    November 16, 2008 at 6:43 PM  

    I try to just listen to my friends...let them pour out their story...and usually if it's something I don't understand or have never gone through...I usually say, well that SUCKs. Cause I lack refinement.

    As for the Motrin Ad...I pretty much am crazy...and feel like that...and say it all the time.

    But it's like this...I can say my family is insane...we can call each other insane, but someone NOT in my family...that is just disrespectful! :)

    Call me hypocritical...but it is what it is!

  • Judy
    November 16, 2008 at 8:48 PM  

    Here's what I think...It's kind of like when people say, "Hi, how are you today?" And then sometimes I ask, "Do you want the standard answer or the truth?" I try really hard to let people know that sometimes, I cannot completely understand their circumstances or situation. I hope that I can still be a good listening ear. But when push comes to shove...don't EVER say you understand unless you have really walked in their shoes.

    I am very caught up in the gay rights movement, but can I EVER say I understand? NO. I can try to, but my life experience doesn't take me there completely. Was my brother gay? Yes. Is my best friend gay? Yes. Do I totally "get it?" NO!!! But I can be a loving, open, kind listening ear and activist.

    There is a difference between sympathy and empathy. Kristina said that. I believe that. Just offering support and a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear may be all you can do. But it's a hell of lot better than nothing. Amen.

  • Anonymous
    November 16, 2008 at 9:02 PM  

    my response to this post could be an ENTIRELY new post of my own. I have so much to say here.


    I will try and keep it brief.

    First of all, the situation in Africa is something that Americans will NEVER understand. Even the homeless people in the U.S. live like royalty compared to many Africans. We send them money, and food, but we can't relate.

    Compassion is something that is hard to express. Mercy is a gift, and it takes a willing heart to understand the emotions.

    Another personal example: my childhood SUCKED. It was extremely nontraditional. raised by a foster parent for 10 years.....blah....blah.....blah......having no connection with my mother, and dealt with some abandonment issues for a long time. Adopted parent died before I was in high school....blah.....blah....


    So I used to OPENLY share my story with friends. It took me 20 years to realize that NO ONE got it. My friends tried to relate, and understand, but they just couldn't. Yes, the pain was similiar to something they may have gone through- but it made them uncomfortable because they didn't know what to say.

    My solution?

    I no longer share "uncomfortable" things about myself or others.

    HOWEVER,..... instead of making everything about ME....and being upset because "no one understands"....oh wah...wah...poor me. I use this energy to try and listen to others.

    Grace, mercy, and compassion are things that EVERYONE needs, and I believe there are many who can GIVE it if they have dealt with hard times.


    now I'm rambeling......

  • Andrea
    November 17, 2008 at 12:39 AM  

    I haven't heard about this, maybe because of where we live. But I am defintiely going to go check it out. If it's even half as bad as I think..well, I'm a Tylenol girl anyway.

  • sassy stephanie
    November 17, 2008 at 7:42 AM  

    Wow. All new to me. I'll have to check it all out.

    Love your new pink digs!

  • The Mom
    November 18, 2008 at 11:18 AM  

    What a great awareness post Jyl! I would like to give you the Kreativ Blogger award, come grab it from over at my place I think what you're doing over here at Mommy Gossip is truly awesome! Keep it up.

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