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The Motrin Flap

In case you were under a rock ... or simply connecting with your kids instead of the computer over the weekend, a Motrin ad caused quite the furor among blogging and Twittering moms the past couple of days.

Here's the ad (via YouTube):

The ad targets moms by suggesting that Motrin can solve the discomfort of "wearing" babies. The problem is, the drug company completely belittles moms who wear babies in slings, backpacks, front packs, etc. in the process. So, while there's definitely some truth to the fact that for some parents, carrying a baby can cause some discomfort, calling it a fashion statement might not have been the best approach.

Motrin, whose Web site has been down this morning, has wisely removed the ad and issued an apology, according to bloggers who had posted moms' dismay at the company:

"We certainly did not mean to offend moms through our advertising. Instead, we had intended to demonstrate genuine sympathy and appreciation for all that parents do for their babies. We believe deeply that moms know best and we sincerely apologize for disappointing you. Please know that we take your feedback seriously and will take swift action with regard to this ad. We are in process of removing it from our website. It will take longer, unfortunately, for it to be removed from magazine print as it is currently on newstands and in distribution." -- Kathy Widmer, VP of Marketing - Pain, Pediatrics, GI, Specialty, McNeil Consumer Healthcare

Does this ad offend you? And is Motrin's response appropriate or too little too late?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  November 17, 2008; 11:04 AM ET  | Category:  Newsmakers
Previous: Finding Toys, Both Safe and Inexpensive | Next: On the Road to Recovery


#motrinmoms ~ 1st Tweets ~ timeline & chart...

Posted by: tweetip | November 17, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Are these people just looking for things to be the next cause, the next thing to focus some supposed anger at?

The ad said if you're dragging around a baby and you need some pain relief because of it, use their product.


Posted by: rpike | November 17, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Off-topic: re last week's Burlington, VT discussion: CDC has ranked it "healthiest city."

On another note, Huntington, WV has been named "fattest city." I lived there through high school and part of college, and honestly couldn't wait to get out, but I must say I'm surprised. Maybe it was just the people I hung out with, but they all seemed pretty obsessed with running, volleyball and fitness generally. Sure, it is the south, and it is WVa, so fat, sure. But fattest? I was surprised.

On topic: I don't see anything wrong with the commercial. Ever since people started talking about "wearing" their babies, I cringed at the idea of how much it would make one's back hurt. I guess wearing the child in front is better than slinging the child onto one's hip because the weight is more centered, but I just can't help but think of this as a really good way to hurt your back. Then again, people will get offended at anything...

Posted by: Monagatuna | November 17, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

The only thing that bugs me about the commercial is the ever-shifting orientation of the words as they appear on the screen. Gives me a headache (hmm...clever way of selling more product?)

Posted by: newsahm | November 17, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

@rike: Yes, People have to have a target for their indignation. After all, indignation without a target is no fun.

I can't find a youtube of this, but years ago (12/16/1989 accoring to Google), SNL had a skit skewering baby carriers and parents who justify carrying them in different positions (in front, in backpacks, attached to a balloon, and a twin carrier - one on each foot of shoe carriers). Each parent was more self-assured than the last of the proper way to carry a baby.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | November 17, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

The ad campaign, consisting of both ads together, is offensive. I found the Children's Motrin ad more offensive - if I spoke my mind, I'd be crazy and committed? Smacks a little too closely of the practice in the 19th century and early 20th century of institutionalizing independent thinking women. Both ads describe new moms as "crazy" - not particularly supportive.

A brand isn't a girlfriend. And trying to be hip and wry only works if you get it right. By inserting "supposedly" in the bonding part of babywearing, and describing babies as a fashion accessory, the ad completely misses the mark. Had it been more supportive, as opposed to condescending, towards new moms, it could have worked. But it missed the mark. And, by the way, baby wearing has been done since probably the beginning of time - or at least since women figured out how to weave plant material or skin hides - it is easier on the body and leaves your hands free.

Finally, just because there are other issues in the world doesn't mean I have to overlook an offensive ad. Yes, I'm concerned about everything from the economy, to the various wars around the world (are you buying an electronic device with coltan this holiday season), to starving children to global warming.


Posted by: TheSmartMama | November 17, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I would think that a lot of moms who are 'slinging' their kids around also breastfeed. Why are they TRYING to get new mothers to take meds that can go through to the breastmilk? This seems like it wasn't thought through AT ALL. I just think they are idiots for trying to create a problem where none exists. And create a bigger one if women take Motrin while breastfeeding and 'wearing' and find out later that the kid become allergic or has a reaction to the Motrin down the road. Our law-suit happy public could make a killing on this issue, if they like...

Posted by: briannholli | November 17, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

If this isn't a case study to be presented to every CMO and Corporate Communications SVP to persuade them to invest more in social media, I don't know what is.

One tip: the apologizing exec should post her apology via video at rather than leave a blank site.

John Taylor

Posted by: write55 | November 17, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Any moms who are so ridiculously sensitive as to find this offensive might want to consider adoption- their children will be lucky to make it in the real world.

Posted by: fake1 | November 17, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

"Offended" seems too strong a word, but I thought the ad was grating and tasteless. It reflects badly on the company.

Posted by: odi8amo | November 17, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Come on....don't be offended. I have 2 kids and number 3 due in a couple weeks. I know many people who do like to have their baby as a badge iof honor and there is absolutely nothing worng with that. We should be proud when we "bjorn up" the babies and walk around town. The ad was funny and sarcastic, why is that so bad?

Posted by: happydad3 | November 17, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

who buys brand-name motrin, anyway? i'm cvs brand generic, all the way, in the gigantic bottle. i took a ton of it, anyway, after carrying the kiddos around in the bjorn, sling, kelty carrier, whaterver. i wasn't offended, but then again, i'm a dad!

Posted by: watercao | November 17, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

And by the i watch the ad again, it does not say that fashion is the only reason why a mom "wears" their baby. But no one can deny that there are those that do. The ad doesn't exclude all the positive reasons why people should use these carriers, it just makes light of some of the more fun ones. We all need to laugh a little more these days!

Posted by: happydad3 | November 17, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

It would have been quite easy to make an ad that was gentle and sympathetic (and showed a bunch of cute babies) instead of this jumpy, grating, pseudo-hip, pseudo-"edgy" ad. Not really offended here, just thinking that the choices of tone and style were kind of stupid.

Posted by: herzliebster | November 17, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I agree with herzliebster - it was just a stupid ad, not offensive. It would in no way cause me to buy motrin (and my back hurt a lot while carrying my large babies in every possible configuration). I see no reason to be offended and I thought the company wise for pulling the ad when it proved unpopular.

However, I do think women jump to being defensive because so many people seem to think that one way is better than another, including the people who are defensive. You can't blame someone for being super-sensitive when they think they are always being called stupid.

Posted by: cqjudge | November 17, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I am not a mother, but I am a woman and I did not find the ad offensive by any means. People read too much into things or are just looking for something to get upset about.

Posted by: ashleyan | November 17, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I despise this ad, and I hate -- nay, I LOATHE Motrin because of it. I will never ever buy their product again because of this shameful, despicable ad.

They are WORSE than NAZIS!

Posted by: alex18 | November 17, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the ad is stupid and offensive; it's creative and irrelevant. There is no right way or wrong way to raise a kid. Each kid is different and needed to be loved and raised differently.

Eleanor Roosevelt said "No one make you feel inferior without your consent"

Posted by: wapsmom | November 17, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I despise this ad, and I hate -- nay, I LOATHE Motrin because of it. I will never ever buy their product again because of this shameful, despicable ad.

They are WORSE than NAZIS!

Posted by: alex18 | November 17, 2008 1:40 PM

I so hope this is ironic. Otherwise, take a couple of Motrin for that terrible case of unabated hysteria.

Posted by: CindyLouHoo666 | November 17, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I am less concerned about the baby slinging than the affects of the stuff on people's liver and kidneys.

Works great. But from what I can tell, it really beats the heck out internal organs.

The manufacturer seems to be looking for another way people can make this a med a day regimen. Hopeully the moms read the labels and the literature.

Personally, I stay away from the NSAID's unless I am dying-figuratively speaking of course.

Posted by: poorrichard | November 17, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

To many younger moms babies are fashion accessories. Sad to have to confess this, but it is the reality. There are plenty of aches and pains that come with having kids. Most of them will not be solved by taking a drug. Most of these problems will be solved by the parents dropping the selfish "me first" attitude and growing stiff spines so they will be able to parent their children rather than befriend their slightly older fashion accessory.

Posted by: skramsv | November 17, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

lol. personally, i think the ad's hysterical. and I'm a new baby-wearing mom!

They should've known to only play the ads on Comedy Central or SpikeTV, though, so the people with senses of humor could laugh and the psychotic self-righteous types would miss them...Did they play these on Lifetime??? oh no!

Posted by: newslinks1 | November 17, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Uhh again how is this offensive? I think they tried to come off as sympathetic to market their product and it went sorta south. I mean I carried around 4 nephews and a niece even after they were walkin and yes my back, shoulders, and neck hurt and I reached for ibuprofen sometimes. I think the problem is some "moms" have this holier than tho attitude. Get off your hi horse and stop complaining about everything. Its not that serious.

Posted by: D_nice | November 17, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Quite frankly, I didn't realize that the concept of wearing a baby was so sensitive. I thought people used baby carriers for their convenience, not as a social statement.
I never used one for two reasons. First, it seemed easier for me to have him in a stroller especially since that would allow me to put his diaper bag underneath and not have to carry a purse, a diaper bag and my son. Second, when my son was four months old I thought that a carrier might be a nice thing to have. By that time, however, my son was already 20 pounds and the carriers weren't designed to hold much more than that. I figured I'd be wasting my money if I bought a carrier that I could only use for another month or two.
I guess I don't see this ad as being at all offensive at all.

Posted by: NHmom | November 17, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

It might not be the smartest ad ever, but "offensive"? Get real - it's just an ad. If you don't like it, then don't buy the product.

Posted by: DESS1 | November 17, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Alex18 wrote:

"I despise this ad, and I hate -- nay, I LOATHE Motrin because of it. I will never ever buy their product again because of this shameful, despicable ad.

They are WORSE than NAZIS!"

Dear Alex18,

By all means, exercise your prerogative NOT to buy Motrin ever again. Who would be silly enough to do so anyway, when one can buy generic ibuprofen for about one-third the price of the name brand?

However, to suggest that people at Motrin, foolish as they may be, are "worse than Nazis" only highlights the vast depths of your stupidity. You weren't paying much attention in history class, were you...

Save the hysterical indignation for a REAL issue, you pointless nitwit.

Posted by: Orsalia | November 17, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I think it's stupid and annoying, but more worthy of an eyeroll that outrage. If I'm making a fashion statement, I wear cute shoes and leave the baby at home. Otherwise, I wear the baby because it keeps the baby from screaming all the way through the grocery store.

Posted by: Cecilotta | November 17, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

The ad definitely came across as condescending - as if mother's only choose to carry their babies as "fashion" statements, and not because using a carrier can actually make parenting easier. There are many documented studies that show there is a real benefit to carrying baby close, so the word "supposedly" was particularly offensive and may actually prevent some poor, overwhelmed new mother from giving a baby carrier a try.

As mentioned, if you are using a QUALITY baby carrier and wearing it correctly, pain should not be an issue. There are a hundred other reasons why mother's could use Motrim - babywearing wouldn't be one of them!


Posted by: parentingbynature | November 17, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Lest briannholli's comment persuades moms to suffer from aches and pains, ibuprofen is generally considered safe for use by lactating mothers.

Posted by: mit2 | November 17, 2008 11:03 PM | Report abuse

I am one of those baby wearing Mom's who was in no way offended by the ad and really do not understand the uproar. Yes, everyone has something they need to "stand for" that they feel is important, but how is a company creating an ad substantiate a total social media frenzy. Yes, the ad was bad, not offensive, just bad but I am not sure how that warrants attacking Motrin. In my opinion there are just way too many sensitive people who cannot just sit back and look at the humor in life. And on a side note, when I did wear my daughter when she was younger, she was eye candy and a fashion accessory-she was cute, beautiful and funny-the best accessory I have ever had! I just wish people would expend their energies on more important matters that effect a larger portion of the population. My thoughts are with Motrin during this difficult time!

Jill Caren

Posted by: jillc1 | November 18, 2008 6:27 AM | Report abuse

I just have to wonder how the "genius" behind this idea didn't know the flap it would cause. Maybe that's exactly what they wanted ... look at all this extra free publicity.


Posted by: PunditMom | November 18, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

I was one of the babywearing moms who wrote an email to let Motrin know I thought their ad was offensive. I'm happy to know they pulled the ad and I am satisfied with their apology. I will have no problem buying Motrin products for my family in the future.


Posted by: ReneeK1980 | November 18, 2008 8:22 PM | Report abuse

I wore my kids proudly and then took Motrin. I am not at all offended. People need to find more useful things to be complin about

Posted by: thosewilsongirls | November 19, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

oops, that should say complain about. Babies on laps can be bad for typing.

Posted by: thosewilsongirls | November 19, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

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