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Monday, February 1, 2010

Don't think Social Media has any impact?...Think Again!

Motrin Bows to Social Media Pressure From Moms - Removes Controversial Ad

motrin_logo.pngOne would think that few ads could be less controversial than ads for painkillers, but  McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the maker of Motrin, found itself in the middle of a major controversy on Twitter, FriendFeed, and other social networks. Motrin ran a web ad discussing the advantages of using the painkiller for mothers who 'wear' their babies close to their body with a sling or other baby carriers and who might suffer from back pain because of it. A lot of mothers (and fathers) were clearly not amused by these ads and Motrin has now decided to remove them and has issued an apology.
The ad, like a lot of ads,was perceived as offensive because it is boring and talks down to its target audience (and also because it stole its use of typography from a popular You Tube video (that has been removed from You Tube for copyright purposes). It is clear that Motrin clearly didn't understand its market, but it is also hard not to consider the 'outrage' over this video to be a bit of an overreaction as well.
None the less, this is also a good example of how much power a vocal minority can have thanks to social media. 
The point here is that Motrin had a chance to reconnect with its customers by using social media to reach out to them with an apology, but the company issued a standard press release-style apology on its site instead. That might seem old-fashioned, but for most companies, that's the only way they know how to operate.

However, more and more users expect companies to reach out to them directly through social media, so just having a social media presence is not enough anymore. When controversies like this one happen (whether deserved or not), smart companies will reach out to consumers directly to stop these fires right where they started. 

Unfortunately Motrin's simple and ineffective press release did more harm than good by alienating already upset customers and elongating what should have been treated as an opportunity to re-engage with It's current and potential customer base.

Hopefully you begin to see some of the New Marketing  trends here: Humanizing your brand and perhaps even more important: The ability to turn even a marketing mistake into a very meaningful Opportunity!

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