November 19, 2008
The pain reliever, Motrin, lost a major bonding opportunity by poking fun at new moms who use baby slings and other “close to the body” carriers. A new online and magazine ad was pulled Monday with an apology on their home page due to thousands and thousands of twitter comments by outraged moms and blogs around the world analyzing the intent of the ad. From there, the big guys then had to pay attention and report on it as well. Check out Advertising Age article on it.
Designed by Taxi to possibly follow (or knock off) the look and humor of “The Baby Owner’s Manual,” the ad, instead sounds like a snide and snarky “I’m too cool to be a mom, but I do have a baby,” woman who generally looks down on the very idea of bonding or closeness. One line in the ad even uses the “s” word, the one word definition of cynicism: “Supposedly it’s a real bonding experience…”
I’d bet too that Motrin has incured the ire of every baby carrier brand out there, as the ad is flat out insulting to them. We all know many many ergonomic studies are done, safety studies and R&D development in order to design baby slings and alleviate or reduce fatigue and pain from repetitive hours of carrying a baby (a wriggling extra 10-20lbs) each day. The ad negates that honest intention and declares the slings themselves as the reason for back pain.
And, yes, Mom’s are “supposedly” a huge market. But the ad could only appeal to that niche market segment, as motherhood is everything to mothers but not really an empathetic or understood state of being for others. So the only people who truly understand the ad are pissed off. AND, the ad was supposed to coincide with International baby wearing month! Now that’s funny.
Ultimately, it’s an interesting studyâ€” what makes sense to a design team might not hit the target market the same way. And the incredible power of social media will amplify the resulting consumer tantrum to a level that makes the ad agency wish they’d never left the house.