Cue the Billy Joel music …
Advertising Age, in its “Timeline of Motrin-Gate,” says we wrote the first discoverable blog post about the now-infamous Motrin ad. Did you neeed more proof that advertising and marketing professionals don’t understand social media?
I feel I just have to set the record straight: We didn’t start the fire. I have serious doubts that my irreverent little post poking fun at the persona portrayed in the ad (c’mon, she’s a total dingbat) was even a significant spark leading to the firestorm of outrage that erupted over the weekend of November 15-16 and resulted in the ad’s withdrawal. Seeing it on the Advertising Age timeline is pretty amusing.
I posted after I finally opened a thread about the ad in the forums at TheBabywearer.com. (Why didn’t I open the thread earlier? Because it was International Babywearing Week and I was busy.) The thread was started November 12, and the original poster said the ad was in the issue of Real Simple magazine that she received that day. People immediately began posting that they were emailing the makers of Motrin to complain about the way the ad portrayed babywearers and babywearing. Later that evening, someone posted a link to the video on the Motrin website. Although responses to the print ad were negative enough that some people decided to write based on it alone, the video version really pushed people’s buttons, and more people posted that they were writing McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the makers of Motrin.
So, people were talking about the ad AND complaining to McNeil at least as early as November 12. Which, by the way, was a Wednesday. (The advertising and public relations professionals who felt McNeil was blind-sided by the eruption of chatter in social media on a weekend might find that fact relevant.) By the time I posted here on November 14, people were already chatting about the ad on message boards and in email groups. Maybe it hadn’t been blogged or tweeted about yet, but the kindling was already ablaze.