Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The MotrinMom Boycott...

Mothers across the country are boycotting the over-the-counter painkilling drug, Motrin, and the boycott is spreading like a virus online.

Here is the Motrin ad that is the center of the controversy. Take a look and, as always, judge for yourself. Apparently, many mothers found the suggestion that it was too hard for them to carry their babies offensive, and that the only way they could do it was with the aid of painkillers.

The reaction to the ad, however, is the real story. Almost immediately, the ad was removed and an apology was given on Motrin's official website. But the mothers did not stop there. They used social-networking websites like Facebook, blogs and microblogs, especially Twitter, and even video-sharing sites like YouTube to create all sorts of videos and other content expressing their anger and urging others to join the boycott. Here is an example of one such video response that illustrates just how offended many mothers are by the ad.

So what can be learned from all this? Cyber pundits are agog over the role of the internet in fostering such a reaction. One blogger, Shannon Paul, notes how, on the social web, "the level of acceptable inappropriate behavior is directly proportional to the level of familiarity you have cultivated".

Meanwhile, Neville Hobson observes that "What’s really compelling is the content angry mothers have created themselves, using tools and channels that largely weren’t around four years ago – YouTube, for instance, and definitely Twitter – but today are accessible and easy to use by anyone with an internet connection."

Jeremiah Owyang takes a different approach and draws out lessons from a business/marketing perspective such as that businesses must "always test your campaign with a small segment first", "always have staff on hand to be prepared to respond during the weekend", and remember that "the participants have the power, so participate".

The spread of this story is what's so amazing considering that there are now more women joining the boycott AFTER the ad was removed than there were before. Social media is what allows that to happen. For better or for worse.


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