Motrin makes moms mad: Viral ad campaign a little too ‘viral’

Oh, the pain...

Oh, the pain...

I am the last person (or more specifically put, mom) in the world to get offended.  I mean, life’s short, people, get over it.  However, after watching the “basically your baby is worse than a ball and chain and more of a hindrance than a blessing, and if I wear him or her on my chest it’s really because I just want to look like an official mom,” Motrin mom ad by Motrin, I just had to comment – especially as a marketer.  Granted, the VP of marketing apologized for the ad (see below), but how did we get here in the first place?  I am sure Motrin must be doing some market research. Heck, talk to anyone with children: A sister-in-law, a friend, a friend of a friend, a mom-to-be, anyone with some insight as to how the commercial would be received.  After carrying that ‘bundle of joy’ inside for nine months, the last thing I want to be reminded of after it’s out is the “pain” of carrying it. 

The ad could have been funny if it wasn’t so darn snarky.  I don’t think I have ever used that word in print, but trust me, it’s appropriate here.  I mean really, it wasn’t funny. Nope, not even slightly humorous. It had all the potential of being funny, but it really missed the mark.  

Too often, we see big companies go to big agencies to get the ‘best’ creative, but what these companies get instead is creative that resonates with ‘Creatives.’  What you want to ask yourself is ‘will the creative resonate with my audience?’  Companies spend so much money on clever creative yet won’t spend a dime to test it.  Maybe next time Motrin will talk to a mom before acting like they understand what’s it’s like to be one. 


Nov 20th

So…it’s been almost 4 days since I apologized here for our Motrin advertising. What an unbelievable 4 days it’s been. Believe me when I say we’ve been taking our own headache medicine here lately!


Btw – if you’re confused by this – we removed our Motrin ad campaign from the marketplace on Sunday because we realized through your feedback that we had missed the mark and insulted many moms. We didn’t mean to…but we did. We’ve been able to get most of the ads out of circulation, but those in magazines will, unfortunately, be out there for a while.

We are listening to you, and we know that’s the best place to start as we move ahead. More to come on that.

In the end, we have been reminded of age-old lessons that are tried and true: 

When you make a mistake – own up to it, and say you’re sorry. Learn from that mistake.

That’s all… for now.


Kathy Widmer
VP Marketing
McNeil Consumer Healthcare

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