COMM0014: Discussion 1 – Dealing with Criticism

There are some risks involved with creating a social media campaign that targets specific cultural, gender or socio-economic groups. Review the following case study about the “Motrin Moms” campaign of 2009, which resulted in a PR disaster for the company.

My first impression was being surprised at how the advertising was one-sided and black and white in opinion. I understand how they were trying to sound funny and create a casual, sympathetic atmosphere. However, the way they created the ad made it sound like baby carriers were only used to look cool as a mom while being in horrible pain for sacrificing oneself for the children and the trend.

As it was mentioned in the article, I think Motrin could have found chat groups of the targeted audience and tried out a few ideas on them. They could have started a discussion about baby carriers and what most moms thought of their usefulness and pain factor. Instead, they took one story and made it sound like baby carriers are actually a bad idea, that they are used only because it’s fashionable, and all that while sacrificing the mom’s physical well-being. It doesn’t represent the opinion of the targeted audience. It also portrays a peculiar image of motherhood in a less than positive light.

From what I understand of the article, Motrin didn’t have a strong social media presence online at that time, so it took them a while to realize that bad press was happening. Now, with all the monitoring tools available, I think they could have had a stronger online presence and support team for these kinds of situations. One of the things they could have done is a new campaign, correcting their mistake and starting a discussion with the audience about how they took the time to understand and improve. Today, if you delete something off the internet, it is never totally gone, and it can make your company look quite suspicious. It is better to start a discussion and address the issue at hand instead of trying to make it disappear. It makes a company look better if there is a history of how they solved a problem.

I think it is hard to please everyone. I recently read about this campaign against excessive drinking where they used older women as the “worst case scenario of a bad night out.” . There were complaints that there wasn’t much sympathy towards the older audience that is being ridiculed in this campaign in an effort to connect with the younger audience. Again, like the Motrin ad, I could understand the “Why”, but I could also easily understand how people outside the targeted audience could feel.

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In a world where everything online is shared very easily and to a broad public, it is easy to offend someone with one’s own opinions and humour. Using humour in a campaign is an amazing tool, but it can backfire quite fast. To prevent negative repercussions, I would try to make a list of questions that need to be answered before releasing a new campaign. These questions would include putting yourself in as many people’s shoes as one could to try to understand how this ad could affect a person watching it. Of course, we can’t please everyone, but we can do our very best not to offend anyone with our opinions as a company.

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