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The Borg :: Mommy Bloggers Assimilate Johnson & Johnson

McNeil Consumer Healthcare created an advertisement for MOTRIN®, a product of Johnson & Johnson (J&J). See the video below. It did not go over well with Mommy Bloggers. Not at all.

Thousands of Twitter tweets and hundreds of blog posts eventually added up to either crash the MOTRIN® servers or force McNeil / J&J to take the site dark. I’m guessing the server crashed. It is still not up as of this writing, hours later. The server went down almost 20 hours after the firestorm erupted.

Mommy blogger Amy Gates received an email from Kathy Widmer, VP of Marketing – Pain, Pediatrics, GI, Specialty – McNeil Consumer Healthcare. This after Gates wrote to Motrin:

Motrin’s new ad campaign targeting babywearing is offensive, disrespectful and wrong on so many levels. If a mom is experiencing significant pain from wearing her baby, then she needs to adjust her carrier/sling or try another one. Babywearing has so many proven benefits to both mom and baby and women have been wearing babies since the beginning of time. Stop disrespecting us moms, Motrin. Unlike our babies, we weren’t born yesterday and we will take our $ elsewhere.

Gates posted: Motrin’s email response to the onslaught of complaints over babywearing ad. Gates describes herself as a “mama of two living in Colorado, I’m passionate about home birth, natural living, and other “crunchy” things. I’m trying to change the world, one blog post at a time.” She helped have an impact on MOTRIN®. Amy and her fellow Mommy bloggers certainly have given Kathy Widmer, VP of Marketing for McNeil, a major headache, too. Well, actually – McNeil & J&J did it to themselves.

Let’s review. Johnson & Johnson is one of the most revered brands in all of consumer products. Their products for babies include JOHNSON’S® baby shampoo and powder (among many other baby icon products), BEBE® baby skin & hair care, PENATEN® skin care … the list goes on. J&J also operates BABY.com and BABYCENTER®.com, the latter a 4.2 million visitor per month Web site. How could they be so clueless? It is obvious this is one group that is not “Web aware” and paying attention. (See Compete.com for traffic stats. Note the spike of 69% for Motrin. If this is related to the controversy, I’m doubting it is the ROI McNeil was looking for – ya’ think?)

Katja Presnal posted a response video, Motrin Makes Moms Mad. In less than one day, 4,216 views. What will Monday bring? Bad mojo for Motrin. And, since Tylenol® is a J&J product … hello Bayer and Aleve®. Just sayin’ … it could happen.

Later, Presnal posted Motrin heard the news. Yes, but is their response good enough, fast enough and will it stem the tide?

“Strength is irrelevant, resistance is futile. We wish to improve ourselves. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service ours.” – The Borg

Why in the world would a marketer create the commercial below. It comes off as if it is making fun of mommies and certainly illustrates how clueless McNeil is about “the borg” and their power. “The borg”, you ask? Well, that’s what Peter Shankman (Shankman.com) compared Mommy bloggers to in a Web cast last night. Shankman appeared on Sarah Evans’ teleseminar. No link to a recording of the event, yet. (@PRSarahEvans on Twitter).

The analogy of Mommy bloggers to the borg is not too far-fetched, actually. Resistance is futile. J&J took down their ad. But, it took them quite awhile.

This is where one of the truest lessons from this kerfluffle comes into play. Some will say, “Robert, come on. They began dealing with it within 24 hours.” Nope. Sorry. Thanks for playing. No parting gifts for you.

Saying a response within 24 hours is good … hey, that’s old school. Welcome to the new world. Listening is the key, here. Listening before preparing the ad would have sent out warning flares galore. Listening after it was launched (24/7) would have alerted McNeil and J&J to the potential firestorm. They could have dealt with this faster. PR people, the protectors of reputation and brand, never sleep. Didn’t you folks at McNeil and Johnson & Johnson get that memo? More importantly, they should have dealt with it faster. If you’re going to be online and engaging the masses online … pay attention! Hello?

McNeil/J&J obviously do not have a Web server strategy for a potential flood of traffic. They did not have a simple page to put up (or, perhaps, an adequate number of servers) so that people would not see an error message. Sigh. The problems keep mounting and we’re barely into the second day.


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