Motrin Moms: Some Initial Lessons
Yesterday and this morning the blogosphere and twitterverse have been in an uproar over the latest ad for Motrin that managed to offend its target audience (mothers). The New York Times has a good recap here.
If I had to draw three lessons from what has been going on as of now, they would be:
1) Engage your audience ahead of time and plan for every contingency – I can’t believe McNeil/Pfizer didn’t do focus groups or market research before launching the Motrin ad, but either the groups were off base or the negative comments were washed out. An editor friend of mine once told me she operated under the principle – if I can think of a way for people to be offended by what I write or my graphic, I know thousands will be offended. Companies need to weigh this and if they decide to move ahead, prepare a response for the negative reactions.
2) Constant monitoring is no longer an option – I remember the Compuserve .Gif tax controversy and thought that spread like wildfire. This puts that to shame. Social media monitoring and engagement is not a 9 to 5 job. Motrin reacted properly, but it gave the zeitgeist time to build and this became a bigger story over the weekend. Companies and public relations professionals need to monitor their brand all the time. The next issue could arise at any time. We had this happen recently when a false rumor about one of my clients started to spread on Twitter. I checked it out, called my client and within 10 minutes of the first Tweet, we had responded to the people and killed the meme before it could gather legs.
3) React quickly and publicly – McNeil is responding publicly, and the Motrin site is down. I applaud them for making the move. Now the question is did they react quickly enough. My gut call is they gave the controversy a day or two of extra legs, but because they did react it will pass in the next few days.
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