Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I mean, in theory, it's a great idea...

I think that the reason the Motrin ad to-do has crawled under my skin as it has is because it is disheartening to see that some people simply do not get it. I have children in college and high school in addition to the SuperCat, so this isn't my first spin around the block. So, while things are better today that they were 20 years ago, and much better than when I was a child myself, we aren't quite there yet.

My children range in age from 20 on down to toddler, and I would like to think that my daughters won't ever face a culture that devalues their decisions and decision-making. But that probably isn't so.

It's still see as acceptable to make fun of women and their choices. I'd like to see that change, and for me, avoiding products from companies whose culture allowed this sort of ad makes sense.

An update, of sorts: The people at McNeil Consumer Healthcare, makers of Motrin, have placed an apology in the spot where the ad once ran on their website. The apology contains the line: We are parents ourselves and we take the feedback of moms very seriously.

Now, aside from the weak apology, which trots out the thread-bare phrase "taking _____ very seriously" which is somewhat of a joke over at Consumerist(^), that sentence begs a question:

Whose bright idea was it to make fun of mothers and marginalize their decisions? If you'd like me to be a customer so much that you target an ad at my demographic, whose bright idea was it to make fun of that same demographic? And that goes double since, as you say, you are parents.

Finally, a parody of the original Motrin ad. It is everything the original wasn't (funny, smart, and sharp). It's from Motherhood Uncensored(^) and The Imperfect Parent(^).


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Goodbye Motrin. Hello, brand equivalent and non-insulting generics.

Tonight, after I got home from a lovely day out and about with my sweet husband (we had a blast - more on that later), reading through my RSS feed, I found an entry at Crunchy Domestic Goddess(^) that I found infuriating (not directed at CDG, of course).

Companies often try to capture the spirit of a particular group for monetary gain. This shouldn't shock us - it's how advertising works. Advertisers want you to associate their products with your problems. They want you to think that they understand and that they can help solve your problems. They try to use words and images that register with us, so that we'll think they are speaking our language.

Mothers are a group that is frequently targeted. This also shouldn't shock us - moms like me make a lot of the buying decisions for our homes, and persuading us to purchase something can result in huge profits.

It's far too late in the evening (early in the morning, actually) to debate the pros and cons of target marketing, but allow me to say this: when it doesn't work, it can result in the worst type of backlash.

Like the kind I am about to engage in:

All parents, regardless of where they live or what they believe, want what is best for their child. Good food, good health, and safe environment. Those are the basics.

Of course, we all want everything good for our children. We want them to love and feel loved; comfort and feel comforted. We want them to feel sympathy and empathy, to receive it when they need it, and to have the compassion to give it freely when they should.

We all want our children to grow up to be everything they were meant to be.

And while we each may parent differently, we all want the same things. We all work toward the same goals, though we may take different paths to get there.

So, when a company chooses to poke cynical, mean-spirited fun of us to make a quick dollar, it doesn't help. It adds nothing of value. It belittles the very people who do society's heavy lifting.

McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the makers of Motrin, (ibuprofen), have decided that it makes monetary sense to belittle women who, after careful study, keep their young babies in slings worn on the body(^). Women the world over "wear" their babies. They always have. It provides babies with the constant warm and loving environment they need to thrive and flourish physically and emotionally.

Many moms have found that babies who are worn are generally happier, and more content. They find that their babies eat better, and they often breastfeed longer, which directly translates to better health. Slings allow mothers the freedom to move back into an active lifestyle soon after the child's birth, and it has been suggested that slings can help with postpartum depression. Translation: it's good for moms as well.

But, according to the people who make Motrin (and Tylenol, for that matter), and in contrast to the overwhelming majority of women who wear or have worn their little ones, doing what women all over the world do and have done for centuries, wearing your baby makes mom cry.

The ad has lines like:

Wearing your baby seems to be in fashion.

Translation: Jump on the bandwagon, you silly, thoughtless woman.

Someone should inform them that women have always done this. Always. Take a look at a United States Mint One Dollar coin. It has Sacajawea, the Shoshone guide to the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1804 on the obverse side, her tiny son Jean Baptiste being carried on her back.

More, from the ad: Supposedly, it’s a real bonding experience.

Supposedly? Where is a baby supposed to be, if not with her parents? In a crib, alone and screaming?


These things put a ton of strain on your back, your neck, your shoulders. Did I mention your back?!

Um, no they don't. Choosing the right sling and wearing it properly doesn't hurt. If it does, seek out the help of other moms, try a different one, or wear the one you have differently. Did I mention it isn't supposed to hurt?



I promise.

The ad ends with:

Plus, it totally makes me look like an official mom.

Translation: There you go again, fluff-for-brains. You didn't research your position. You didn't think it through. You aren't competent or smart. You're doing it because it looks good.


McNeil Consumer Healthcare and Motrin thinks it's ok to insult moms to make a buck. They think it's ok to demean women, to undermine our parenting, to sell their product.

But they are wrong. This cynical ploy is enough to banish Motrin from our medicine cabinets. If the makers of Motrin feel that denigrating women to make a buck is ethical, we feel comfortable refusing their product.

Generics are there for a reason. Loyalty to brands only works when the brand is worth being loyal to. The makers of Motrin and Tylenol have lost me as a customer.

If you'd like to hear the ad yourself, find it here, at Motrin's website. It was there when I started writing tonight. If they remove it, Barb at Perfectly Natural Photography(^) has thoughtfully transcribed it.

If you Twitter, consider tweeting this. If you do, please add "#motrinmoms" or "#motrindads" (no quotes) to your tweet. I'm not sure who started this, but here are the results at Twitter(^). Pages and pages and pages. My own Twitter feed is in the smaller column here on my blog, or here(^).

If you feel moved, you can write a quick note to McNeil Consumer Healthcare here(^). Here is what I wrote:

I find it hard to fathom that denigrating mothers makes good business sense, so when I heard your commercial last night which belittles dedicated parents to sell Motrin, I was shocked.
We will no longer be purchasing Motrin (or Tylenol) and will strongly encourage our friends to avoid your products as well.

I am mommy, hear me roar.