I’m going to take a wild guess that McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a Division of McNEIL-PPC, and their agency of record (Taxi NYC, from what we can tell at the moment) are not carefully monitoring Twitter right now. I’m also going to guess that you’re going to hear a thing or two more about this in the business press (WSJ, Forbes, AP, NYT) before it subsides.
Many moms (and dads) who blog and tweet and are fans of “babywearing” are finding this Motrin ad (currently it’s right on Sunday afternoon it was pulled from the Motrin.com home page, which was more or less down for the next 16 hours and now displays their apologia) patronizing and disrespectful of the practice of babywearing. It’s kicked up some relatively strong feelings among the community, and a resulting loud racket on Twitter and blogs. (I’ll disclose: 1) I agree the ad is a bit dumb, 2) that I was a babywearer, and 3) that frankly, carrying those g-dmn “bucket style” infant carseats wrecked my back way more than any of my slings and backpacks ever did. But that’s not the point.) UPDATE: Follow the Twittering here. Skimbaco (Katja Presnal) compiled the Twitter screenshots and babywearing photos video below, and collected a long list of blog responses, including her original post. (Found via Jet With Kids)
Even if your brand or agency isn’t ready to engage formally and integrate the business applications of Twitter throughout your campaigns, community building and other market engagement efforts, you need to get clued in — fast — to the reasons, times and ways that you can listen. Maybe you’re not even ready for full-time social media monitoring. That’s your call. But not tuning in while you launch a new tactic borders on gross negligence, in this day and age.
Rolling out a new tactic is THE most important time to lend an ear. Smart SuperBowl advertisers could have gained instant consumer feedback on their efforts during the game last year. After every ad Twitter lit up with opinions. Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang prepared this formal analysis based on responses sent to his experimental account @superbowlads. His colleague (who co-authored Groundswell) Josh Bernoff shared his assessment here. Searching or watching Twitter’s search tools for your brand at the moment your ad aired would have yielded even more results.
I’ll update this post as I hear more, and when the companies involved begin to respond. Meanwhile, if your company doesn’t have a good understanding of how your full range of market engagement needs to be informed by sensitive consumer sentiment engines like Twitter, you might want to give your agency a call.
(Evolving: I’ll spare you all the “UPDATE” notations)
- Lesson #2: the Twitter chatter is not to be dismissed as an angry mob. There are TONS of productive ideas being shared. The company that listens, learns. (and, earns!)
- AdeleMcAlear Searched YouTube for “Motrin baby ad” and noticed the protest videos have already been up for 12 hours (at 3:30 EST Sunday), including Twitter screen shots. She also uncovered this blogger’s (awkwardly self-promotional) report that she called Taxi’s Director of Corporate Communications at home who had not, then, heard of the fuss.
- McNeil marketing VP responds. In an email to Katja Presnal:
We believe deeply that moms know best and we sincerely apologize for disappointing you. Please know that we take your feedback seriously and will take swift action with regard to this ad.
- Later, McNeil posted that apology on Motrin.com
- Seth Godin weighs in: not a very useful apology.
- Josh Bernoff breaks down the events, and agrees with Godin.
- Jeremiah Owyang‘s analysis with screenshots and brand impact context