UPDATE: Kathy Widmer, VP of Marketing - Pain, Pediatrics, GI, Specialty for McNeil Consumer Healthcare just responded. Her email is posted here.
Today I’ve been watching a brand that is tried and true get put through the court of public opinion. Oh, Motrin, how did this happen? As a mother, I’m irritated by your Momalogue videos. As a lifelong marketer I feel for you and your ad team.
So what went wrong? For me, Motrin missed in three key areas:
Motrin underestimated my personal values: Despite a culture that may trend toward appreciating cynicism, sarcasm and irreverence (think Saturday Night Live election coverage) for many mothers having a baby instills a new found sense of sacredness and selfless sacrifice. Motherhood redefines love. Sanctity, selflessness and love are values that trump cynicism, sarcasm and irreverence which make up the creative basis for the Momalogues.
Motrin did not earn the right to assume a personal relationship with me: While moms can laugh with each other as women who have shared experiences, Motrin the corporation is not in a position to assume that role. The Motrin website says “The MOTRIN Brand wants you to know we feel your pain.” A brand cannot feel my pain. And it is even more unbelievable because the brand is engaged in contrived sarcastic monologue about how I tote my baby. The first rule of empathizing with a woman; never say, “Oh, I know how you feel.” Especially if you are a corporation talking.
Motrin went half-way on the Momalogue execution: I’m in marketing and there are usually two reasons you don’t use on camera talent. It’s too expensive, and if the campaign is global, it’s too expensive to translate. The voice over and animated words make the ads even more impersonal for a topic that is highly personal. If those commercials were delivered in a dialogue by real women, and perhaps a comedian who was a new mother, with a few copy changes they might have passed. But in this execution? No way.
The lesson? When it comes to motherhood, and especially if you’re going to claim to know my pain, you better go for the aspirational values. As a Mom I will believe in the people and companies that remind me to take care of myself so that I can give the best to my children and family.
(Get a list of blogger comments about this here.)