Motrin: A Case Study In Social Media Marketing - Part 2


Update: 11-18-08; Kathy Widmer, VP of Marketing apologizes on the home page of Motrin. This is the follow-up post to one I wrote on Diva Marketing on 11-17-08 on how social media changed the direction of a Fortune 500 company's marketing campaign.


As is always the case in a slide down the slippery slope of social media, there are lessons we can take away from the Mortin Moms Social Media Case Study. I've reached out to Bonnie Jacobs, VP Communications and Kathy Widmer, VP of Marketing at McNeil Consumer Healthcare offering Diva Marketing as one platform to tell their story. (Btw .. would not be surprised to see someone from the Morin marketing team making the conference rounds.)

The influence of "just" a few thousand people changed the marketing direction of a Fortune 500 company's multiple channel advertising campaign (McNeil Consumer Health is a division of Johnson and Johnson). Within hours of  social media conversations a website had been taken down and put back up with an apology. Plans were in the works to pull print ads and perhaps other initiatives that were set to launch were halted.

Listening to, what went beyond the sentiments of "just" a few thousand bloggers or tweeters, but perhaps reflected a signification segment of Motrin's target audience, may have saved the company some hefty dollars in terms of ultimate goodwill and stopped the ooze of brand erosion before it could spread further online and off.

The social buzz is that the brand team could have responded faster. Perhaps. But for their actions to a Sunday Social Smackout McNeil Consumer Healthcare gets a gold star from Diva Marketing.

In trying to understand what happened, we don't have a lot to go on .. We don't know what research went on prior to the launch of the campaign. We don't know the infra structure or the communication that most certainly flew from site to site to phone to office meetings. We don't know when Mortin's marketers begin to "listen" in on the tweets and blogs or when they first found out. Nor do we know when the decision was made to send the letter to Amy Gates at  Crunchy Domestic Goddess and why Amy and who else received Kathy Widmer's email.

We can only guess the impact that this had and will continue to have on the human resources at McNeil Consumer Healthcare and their marketing parners as they execute their new strategy. We can assume that it will cost a pretty penny in terms of dollar investment.

We also don't know the end of the story. Or perhaps it is really the beginning of the story. What lessons did the Morin marketing team take away from the Mortin Mom's Sunday Social Smackout? What counsel is their agencies giving? Will they embrace the women and men who Helped them avoid an even bigger blow-up? Will they participate in the social media conversations? Currently Motrin's people are messaging one-sided .. there is no dialogue that I can find.

Morin's social media experience reinforces that social media marketing is a complex, multi-faceted strategy.

  1. It is critical to have strong communication systems in place that integrate muliple departments: marketing, PR, customer service, legal, sales, operations, etc.
  2. It is critical to listen and participate in your customers' online exchanges.
  3. It is critical to be humble.

The end game to this post: There is value in the asset: Mortin Moms. Mortin marketing team .. what will you do with that one?

Sidebar: Thanks to Mark Story for posting the updated Mortin website.


Trackback url:


As I Tweeted, I will likely BUY a Motrin product now, just because of the way they reacted to "the people."

These are pretty heady times for "the people." First putting a nominee of their choice into play in the U.S. presidential campaign, and then winning the election for the most powerful position of leadership on the planet; now taking down and impacting million dollar ad campaigns. I hope getting our country back on track economically is next. And world peace... of course!

BTW, the first blog I looked to for post-mort on the Motrin matter was Diva Marketing.

Posted by: SpaceyG on Nov 18, 2008 11:13:04 AM

And one other note... here's a fun spoof of the original campaign:

Posted by: SpaceyG on Nov 18, 2008 11:21:23 AM

It makes me sad when we pounce all over things - granted I do it all the time.

I think a portion of the people are defending the "moms" now because I think they think if they don't they aren't politically correct.

What a mess - so Motrin tried to relate and they missed the mark - can't we just think that or do we have to bash them all over the place.

Is that what the internet has come to - a giant bashing playground? If that is the case I am not sure I want to play.

You mention being humble - who has to be humble? Just companies or should all of us eat a piece of humble pie? I suggest the latter.

Posted by: jacqueline on Nov 18, 2008 2:49:43 PM

@spacey - wow! you made my day. thanks for your over the top kind words.
@jacqueline - so easy to pounce especially virtually where "no one knows you are a dog." Thank you for keeping us honest and remembering that this is a new game we are in learning together. imo - all of us should have a piece of that pie.

Posted by: Toby on Nov 24, 2008 2:20:22 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.