Motrin Moms: When Social Media Attacks

By now you are probably aware of this past weekend’s twitterstorm over the Motrin commercial that outraged mombloggers and momtweeters.

Here’s the original ad:

And here’s just one example of the storm of protest that erupted:

Jeremiah Owyang did some great analysis of the firememe and concluded “It’s not likely to cause enough of impact search engine results for ‘motrin,’ be a mainstream press story, or cause damage to stock price … Over time, these search results may fade away…”

While he’s no doubt right, a Google search on “Motrin” today (Monday)turned up two high-profile results related to the controversy, at the top and bottom of the 1st page of results.

Top of results page:


Bottom of results page:


Many Social Media pundits, myself included, have been known to make pithy proclamations like “Google is your new homepage.”  There’s no getting around the fact that The GOOG adores the always-fresh content served up by the blogosphere.  And since Google is such an outsized part of how the typical consumer interacts with the Web, all brands (but especially BIG brands) need to be cognizant of the fact that their online reputation is a precious asset that must be cultivated – and guarded. 

If you’re targeting MOMS you ought to know that there are ~14,000 of them with strong opinions in the Social Media sphere.  Maybe you could ask a few of ‘em to check out your expensive new advertisement before you release it? 

We’re not talking about some podunk brand: we’re talking about MOTRIN, a billion-dollar brand with oodles of marketing funds.  Even if Motrin execs didn’t know any better, their ad firm ought to have had a clue (not that the ad would be controversial — though that’s debatable too — but that it was worth testing out with some online influencers before wide distribution). 

For more good stuff on the #motrinmoms issue, see David Armano of Logic + Emotion and Andy Beal over at MarketingPilgrim.

Posted on: November 17, 2008 at 12:30 pm By Todd Defren
6 Responses to “Motrin Moms: When Social Media Attacks”


  • Meredith Watts says:

    This shows the power of social media. Its funny to see how fast the moms responded online against the ad. I can not believe Motrin did not test this on their target audience before releasing. This would have saved time, money and a debate. Motrin lost a lot of customers over this whole deal. Through social media mombloggers and momtweeters got Motrin to apologize and drop the ad.

  • Scott Monty says:


    Just out of curiosity, do you use your truck for work? That is, are you hauling equipment, tools, materials, supplies, etc.? Because that the profile of the core F-150 audience.

    And that audience actually has their own terminology for trucks that are used for commuting or leisure rather than for work: “coffee shop trucks.” Because, according to them, the guys that own them aren’t working; they’re spending time at coffee shops.

    I can understand how the ad may offend truck owners who use them for commuting or non-work activities. But that’s not the target audience and it’s not who we were addressing in the ad.

    Motrin, on the other hand, offended the very audience they were targeting.

    Scott Monty
    Global Digital Communications
    Ford Motor Company

  • Michael Bailey says:

    As a former pickup truck owner, I can see how people might be easily offended by this one too

    But, to rally-up and force them to remove the ad?
    No, it’s just an ad. I might not agree with it, but there are many things which I don’t agree with.

    Why waste time and energy on silly things like that?

  • Check out the apology on the Motrin website. They’re dropping the ad.

  • Heather says:

    Watching this whole situation unfold this weekend was very interesting. From a marketing perspective, the discussion should shift to what lessons can we learn from this.

    For example, companies need to understand that we don’t live in a M-F, 9-5 society. Bloggers are blogging on the weekends, so companies need to be listening. I’m surprised how slow some big companies are to demonstrate a clear understanding of social media and how to use it and respond to it. We’re posting other lessons at

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