Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Motrin meets mad moms

If you haven't heard about the whole Motrin babywearing ad controversy, I would be very surprised. First, Motrin placed a video ad on its website denigrating babywearing (see Jill's or Tophat's posts that include the transcript of the ad). It set the blog- and Twitter-shpere afire. Within less than a day, Motrin had pulled the ad and issued an apology. Several news and advertising outlets have written stories about Motrin's disastrous experience with viral marketing. For a great roundup of the whole story, please read Crunchy Domestic Goddess' post.

Even though Motrin took the ad down, I found a "bootleg" copy on youtube. Watch it here! All I can say is...what were they thinking--especially on International Babywearing Week!?


  1. I'm not seeing the controversy. I wore my baby, he was BIG, and it hurt my back/shoulders. Aren't we grasping at straws a bit here?

  2. The controversy is that they are saying that babywearing is only a fashion statement and that the benefits are only "supposed" and not proved... which is a lie or is plainly not well researched.
    I had a big baby too... he was 30 lbs at 6 months and 43 lbs at a year... A good woven wrap was the only way that I could carry him... If you were hurting, then you had the wrong carrier or you were not wearing it right.

  3. The ad is also insulting because it says babywearing makes her look like an "official mom". What on earth is that supposed to mean? If I'm seen out with my baby and I'm not wearing her then I don't look "official"?

  4. My biggest issue was the making fun of babywearers and trying to sell them a product at the same time. "What you're doing has no 'real' benefits and you do it to be superficial. Hey, buy our product." You just shouldn't make fun of your target audience.

  5. "If you were hurting, then you had the wrong carrier or you were not wearing it right."

    This sounds just like the lactation people who told me that if nursing hurt, then we weren't doing it right.

    Dude. Wearing 30-40 pounds in the most ERGONOMIC way possible is going to put strain on your body.

    Just as suddenly having a baby sucking on your sensitive extremities for hours on end is GOING TO HURT at first.

    Does telling people they're doing these things wrong "IF it hurts" going to encourage them to do beneficial things like breastfeeding and babywearing?

    Please don't be so simplistic. If your goal is to encourage good behaviors like this, then consider your audience. (and REALITY).

    Also, I'm not sure their ad campaign was such a disaster. It got everybody talking about Motrin -- not just those babywearers who were offended and planning to boycott for life.

  6. Enh. Sorry about that 5th paragraph. Some serious subject-verb agreement problems there.

  7. I think we've proved that mom's have the BEST viral system around--how long was that add up before they started getting complaints? I wonder what we should tackle next, LOL...

  8. I do like Tophat's point about the alternatives. Car seats are far more of a pain to carry, and I almost always feel the strain on my arms, hip, and lower back when I carry my toddler in arms, without my (second womb!) sling. So why pick on babywearing?

  9. When I first read about this I thought it may have been closer to what Amanda is suggesting but then I saw the video. Wow.

    "This sounds just like the lactation people who told me that if nursing hurt, then we weren't doing it right. [...]" --Jane

    Yes. Both are correct.

    I'm not sure why you think that telling someone that if it hurts you're doing it wrong will make them quit instead of encourage them to get help to do it right.

    Breastfeeding doesn't have to hurt at the beginning. I wish you hadn't had that experience.

    Interestingly, I've never thought of breastfeeding as "good behaviour". That seems to suggest that women have to be tricked and coerced into doing this "good behaviour" instead them making the choice because it's the most obvious and healthy. It also suggests that if they don't breastfeed they are "bad", which I'm sure is a much less successful approach to take if your hope is to encourage breastfeeding.

    If it hurts when your babywearing or breastfeeding, something's not right and you should get some help to do it differently. Both are still the best choices you can make for both you and your child.

  10. It's a friggin' ad! Aren't there bigger issues to be worrying about? I honestly don't understand getting so upset that someone, somewhere might not be validating your parenting choices.

    I saw the ad, and I didn't come away with the impression that they were saying babywearing is only a fashion statement. It may well be a fashion statement to some, otherwise you wouldn't have people putting so much care into choosing the color of their slings.

    I don't think there are enough studies to say the benefits of babywearing are "proven". I wore my baby because it felt right and I wanted to. I could give a flip less what anyone else decides to do.

    And I do take issue with being told I must have been doing it wrong if it caused pain. That may be true for some, but I tried different slings and spent time with other babywearing moms and I'm telling you it just hurt. Kind of like when people tell you labor wont hurt if you're doing it right. Sorry, for some people it just HURTS and that doesn't mean there is something wrong with them.

  11. the hysterical, creative, mommy backlash :)


  12. Omg. Tiffany that is hilarious!!

  13. Okay I'm watching youtube responses to the ad, and they are doing nothing more than making babywearing moms look like hysterical nutjobs who need to get a life. I think some people need to save words like "outraged" and "horrified" for some of the real horrors and injustices being committed against women and children the world over RIGHT NOW.

    The online mom community has proven once again that we have the numbers and network to make changes, but can we please start trying to make changes that really matter? Changes that could alleviate some of the very real suffering in this world? Or do we just keep ourselves occupied with how much it offends us when someone suggest that babywearing isn't the most joyful thing ever, or going nuts about being asked to get an IV at the hospital. First world problems, indeed.

  14. My biggest beef was the condescending, sarcastic, snarky tone of the ad. Yeah, it slammed babywearing, and gave out false information about it (hello! moms have been babywearing since the dawn of time!), but it just really, REALLY rubs me the wrong way when a commercial tries to "relate" to me and misses the mark completely. It's just a sleazy tactic to get their paws on my money. "Hey look, we relate to you! Now buy our product!"

    Yeah, babywearing hurts sometimes, and so does breastfeeding. Won't deny that. But why make it the sole focus of a 45-second commercial? Why go on and on about how cute and trendy it is, all with a patronizing overtone that clearly inflects smug disdain for all those silly moms who buy into such a faddish thing? That's what's offensive to me.

  15. Ever seen that peanut butter commercial that says "Choosey moms choose JIF!"? I am so offended by that! It is totally disrespectful to my preference for Peter Pan! It implies that someone who buys JIF is a better mother than me! Where's MY outraged internet meme!

    And while I'm at it, what's up with "Goodmama" diapers? We need to boycott those because the name implies that buying their overpriced consumer good is a reflection on our mothering skills. I propose a protest.

  16. yeah, I am in the category of, there are bigger things to be concerned about than a stupid ad for pain reliever. I'm more offended by the Luvs tv ad that has a bunch of hippie babies running around in their toss away diapers. I'm more offended by the Glade commercials of the lazy and lying woman who epitomizes the idea of being a wealthy woman who has nothing better to do than consume and put on airs.

    in reality, I'm more offended by the fact that so many folks can't afford their needs anymore. I'm more offended by the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    I'm more offended by so many more important things, that sitting around the internet blogging all day long and making youtube videos about an ad that doesn't even air anymore seems just a little bit like a big waste of time.

    I'm an AP, UC, babywearing cloth diapering mother but I do not need the validation of so many other people SO MUCH that I need to bitch about an ad on tv that is really just another condescending mommy ad like the sauve hair care commercials. turn off the tv, how 'bout, and then the rest of you that care so much about this stupid ad shall have nothing to complain about. It's all about priorities.

  17. It probably took me less time to send off my email to motrin about their add then it took some of you to write the comments on this blog stating that I should have done something more important with that time. So where are your priorities? Why aren't you off fighting world hunger instead of commenting on this blog about how you don't think other women should have complained to a company? I complain to companies all the time for all sorts of reasons, and surprisingly I still find time to do other more worth while activism as well. I think it's quite possible to focus my attention on more then one thing at a time.

  18. Amanda, I think you're right on the mark. Just wanted to say that!

  19. Jennifer, You haven't any idea the things I do in my time to make the world better, and it has nothing to do with complaining to capitalist corporations over stupid ads. Presently I am 39 weeks pregnant, (the reason I have time to read Rixa's blog and respond) so my money and my phone calls are about it for right now, and they go to causes to aid people, not bitch about situations.

    My husband has something he says to our girls when a problem presents itself...he says it about any problem where someone might have the propensity to bitch and complain. "Don't tell me problems, tell me solutions." In the grand scheme, a stupid ad that makes you feel like you need some sort of validation is NOT a problem requiring a solution, it's simply another reason to complain.

  20. tasha-rose,

    I am sure you do more important things with your life, that was precisely my point. If you can make comments on this blog of that length and still accomplish other great things, then we can send off an email to Motrin and still accomplish other great things as well. Thank you for validating the point I was making.

    Furthermore, this is not simply "bitching" to a company because we mothers didn't get some sort of "validation" from them. There was a bigger issue that was lost on some. The company tried invalidating babywearing itself. Mothers who believe in and promote babywearing believe it to be beneficial to parents, to babies, and to our society (which will benefit from infants that are securely attached). Also, in this capitalist system consumers hold the power. If a company is spreading misinformation about what we believe to be an important social cause (e.g. breastfeeding, birthing, babywearing, ect.) then I always write to that company and ask them to correct their information. If they wont, then I don't buy things there. This is our right and power as consumers in a capitalist system. I chose to exercise that right whenever I see fit. And it is not because I am "bitching". I only use my powers for good :-)

  21. Wow, I didn't think this would still rile so many people up! What I find most interesting/surprising/amusing about the whole incident is Motrin's vast misjudging of their target audience. Patronizing tone and digs at babywearing aside, it was a poorly planned ad with really bad timing.

    I found a ring sling quite comfortable until Zari reached 7-8 months, at which point it was too much weight to carry on one shoulder. I still used it but not for long periods of time. I switched to mei tais and soft-structured-carriers, which were nice for spreading the weight over my back and hips. But I can't say that I could wear her all day and not have some aches after a while. Still, with a good-fitting carrier, it's more the ache/effort that comes with carting around X amount of pounds (such as when you go backpacking).

  22. what were they thinking?? shame on the folks that approved this garbage to be made into a commercial!

  23. I wish I ever had any sucess with babywearing. I hate it and my current baby is not even a huge one! : (

    I take Motrin like candy and have ulcer to prove it.

    So....do these facts make me immune to disliking thus ad campaign? no. I think spreading misinformation is wrong. They missed the mark here. In trying to be cool and appeal to the Mamas, they alienated and vaguely insulted everyone. Including me. Who currently is sporting that exact twitching eye thing.

    Not really controversial to me, but pretty stupid. (I wish all I needed was motrin to do babywearing, ps....)

  24. I've got to side with Amanda and Tasha-Rose on this one. I don't get what the big deal is, really. Yes, I saw the ad and it is annoying and classless, but it's hardly anything that I'd get my hackles up about. Turn the channel for 30 seconds if you think the ad is stupid.

    And yes, I own a sling and wear my son!

  25. "The company tried invalidating babywearing itself."

    No, they didn't. They are pitching their product as a solution for when the pain of babywearing is too much. They are not pitching stopping babywearing as the solution for when the pain of babywearing is too much.

    If Motrin advertised its product among the college market for the aches and pains of carrying a heavy backpack to class, are they invalidating the worth of studying?

    If a company advertises nipple cream for sore, achy nipples, are they invalidating breastfeeding?

    They only "invalidated" because they didn't portray babywearing as the be-all-end-all. Because their target -- mainstream mothers who wear their babies because they've heard it's a good thing to do, but they're not completely sold -- doesn't believe that babywearing is the be-all-end-all. And that target, of mainstream mothers, is far bigger than the crunchy mothers who do believe that babywearing is the be-all-end-all.


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