Monday, November 17, 2008

Of Tempests and Teapots

I know that a few of you may have missed the internet tsunami that happened this weekend, so to recap, Motrin launched a pair of ads on their website claiming that moms only wear their children in baby carriers to be fashionable. The ad for children's motrin claimed that if people really knew what moms were thinking, we'd all be committed to mental institutions. Nice. Ironically, this also happens to be International Babywearing Week, so the company's timing was particularly inappropriate.

The backlash from moms was huge and immediate. Katja Presnal launched a counter-video containing some of the messages from and beautiful images of parents wearing their babies. Conversation on Twitter about the issue became the number one topic on Sunday, outstripping the earthquake in Indonesia. Although it took over 20 hours for McNeil Pharmaceuticals to react, they finally took down their entire Motrin website and issued email apologies from their VP of marketing.

And then the next wave of opinion began. Twitter, blogs, and advertising sites began to accuse moms of creating a tempest in a teapot. One Huffington Post author accuses moms of caring more about babywearing than rapists.

These writers miss the point entirely. What they saw yesterday was not moms getting worked up about a small issue, but moms united in their advocacy skills at a single point in time, creating change through the power of the internet. To believe that these women only care about babywearing is naive indeed. In fact, babywearing is probably the smallest issue that all but a few of these women fight for. While the Huffington Post author was advocating for funding for law enforcement, another mommy blogger was working for safe drinking water in Africa and I was standing up before the City Council for funding for a local tutoring program.

Every mom who wrote to the company, every mom who posted on Twitter, every mom who wrote a blog post - every mom cares and speaks up about many issues. The Motrin issue brought into focus the potential sum of our powers.

That's what I want detractors to understand. I'm a mom, and I'm changing the world. You just might not always be able to notice.

11 people stopped folding laundry to write:

Anonymous said...

There was nothing wrong for the reaction. However, it was NOT A BIG DEAL (from the point that McNeil's advertising was getting at. It was an attempt at being witty and it flew like a lead balloon.

"It took 20 hours": woohoo. That's incredible. A weekend and such? You should be lauding them for actually reacting. They reacted. They apologized. Move on! Please!

Why not put the SAME effort into those issues you reference: education, child safety? Just because this "rubbed someone the wrong way" doesn't justify the scorch the earth mentality against McNeil. I am not apologizing for them. I am simply saying get a sense a humor and put your energy towards more important issues.

Just because people disagree with the mob mentality doesn't mean they do not respect moms who support babywearing. It's beautiful. Don't spoil that picture by putting a pitchfork in the hand of the mom!

Threeundertwo said...

Apparently Mr. Anonymous didn't read my post above.

Texasholly said...

I wish the person above would not make such statements anonymously. I think they have good points, but the anonymous thing really decreases their validity. ANYWAY, I am personally not insulted or effected (or is it affected?) in any way by the Motrin thing EXCEPT that as a social experiment it is fascinating.

I AM tired of advertisers rolling out CRAP. Thinking that ANY publicity is good publicity. Paying people millions of dollars to make stupid ads that just junk up life. I personally hate it when companies and advertisers take them self too seriously. They usually go on to try to be edgy which is where Motrin failed.

I think what this shows more than anything is that people (in this case Moms) are tired of being SPOKEN FOR and SPOKEN TO for the sake of selling pills.

AND as for the idiots saying "use this energy" for x, y or z cause. DUH! I think we all are doing that already. Give me a break. I can't think of any group of people that does more volunteering then the MOMs of America.

Alrighty, I am stepping off my soap box.

Dena said...

Thanks for posting this threeundertwo! I work 10 hour shifts on the weekends so I missed all the "fun"!
Don't you just love how random crankybutt people have the guts to be nasty but not the guts to tell you who they are. What a chicken (and I know chickens)!

Oh and on the warm fuzzies size, you are changing the world - you have changed mine and I thank you for being such an inspiration!

Gray Matter Matters said...

Y'know my reaction was similar. A friend of mine called me in a panic because he was affiliated with the ad and was completely astounded at the fury it caused. When he told me they took it down my first thought was, "Damn, look at how powerful Mommybloggers are." I think that's your point. Was the ad on air or only on their website? It would be hilarious to me if people had to go to the website to be insulted.

Unknown said...

Ok, so I saw the ad. If not for the twitter and blog hubub, I would not have given it another thought.

The girl's voice on the ad was a bit snarky, but I know many moms that see their role in just a snarky, dude, i know I supposed to do this way.

I agree with Holly that as a social experiment, it was cool to see the powers of internetz unleashed, however, I wish it were for a better cause than silly Motrin commercial.

And as mom with back issues from a injury in the military, it was excruciating to carry my three babies around so yes, Motrin, the ad worked for me.

Anonymous said...

The lady that made one of my slings that I used frequently when the Little Imp was a baby imp emailed me about the ad (I can't get on Twitter for some odd reason) and I was irritated and then amused because I knew the power of momma outrage would rear it's head and smack Motrin 'round the ears and the ad would be gone.

I think it's more a testament to the fact that McNeil (and other companies after this no doubt) listen closely to their consumers.

It does make me wonder though, just how many hits Motrin/McNeil garnered once this went viral?

Anonymous said...

What were they thinking. I didn't hear about any of this, I can only imagine the backlash, what an absolutely ridiculous ad. Very odd it went out at all.

Suburban Correspondent said...

Missed it! At first I thought it was nothing, but I found the end rather insulting. Good for everyone for speaking up!

Anonymous said...

I'm not easily offended, but this commercial pushed all my buttons, and it's been nearly a decade since our baby wearing years. It was sexist, demeaning, and generally moronic.

Of course, there have been many awful ad campaigns, but this was the first time that it was easy to connect with thousands of other consumers who shared this opinion.

So, yes, we are changing our world!

Shonda Little said...

Yes, I wore the kiddie slings to be fashionable.....and of course for my back to ache in ways that no stinkin' Motrin can fix.
Seriously, who is in charge of their ad campaign? Pissing off the wives and mothers of the world, aka the household shoppers, during this huge economic downturn suggests that perhaps they hired a spy from their competition to run this.

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