Motrin’s ad brouhaha: is social media nasty medicine?

25 Nov

Motrin’s baby-as-fashion accessory ad that created a lot of comment among moms in the blogosphere, also created a teaching moment about how social media can be used to monitor, respond and even prevent such a brouhaha.

Thousand of tweets, articles, and angry blog posts later, we need to step back and ask ourselves: how could a marketer learn form this.  AdAge has great analysis of this story with respect to the social media backlash.

First some background: About six months ago, Dunkin Donuts responded to a similar attack (by Michelle Malkin) about an ad that purportedly used a ‘terrorist’ icon, a kaffiyeh. The attack was without any substance, by the marketer took the ad down, fearing the negative chatter in the blogosphere would damage its brand.

Motrin’s parent company, Johnson & Johnson, no stranger to controversy, issued a statement apologizing missing the mark.  I don’t think it needed to have gone there, and could have done better damage control by engaging those they had offended. But hindsight is 20-20 in a crisis, and maybe they did not know how to engage the groups via social media.

Which brings us to pre-emptive public relations, and the ability to use new media to listen first. Without that, social media seems like a btter pill to swallow, because it all seems like a noisy echo-chamber waiting to take you out.


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