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Motrin Causes More Pain than it Cures

It kind of seems like a no-brainer, but viral marketing needs to be just as researched, focus grouped, and thought out as print advertising. While most people would respond to this with a hearty, “duh,” this is apparently a lesson that still needs to be learned by the ad agency that worked on the most recent viral campaign for the pain reliever Motrin.

Their latest marketing efforts created the following:

While Motrin wanted to convey the idea that they felt mother’s pain, the overly slick video only seemed to anger mothers and non-mothers alike. It’s painfully obvious now to Motrin (and most people who saw the ad) that this viral marketing effort was not created by or run by any real life mothers.

How does Motrin know this? The backlash to the ad was almost immediate. Using the very channels that Motrin hoped to utilize for their online success, mothers united quickly in protest to the ad. In particular, they gathered on Facebook, and they gathered on Twitter. In fact, this controversial ad ranked as one of the most tweeted about topics in the days following the incident.

Angry mothers contested several aspects of the ad. In the words of one particularly angry procreator, “So many things wrong with that [ad] I don’t know where to start.” For one, mothers took issue with the idea that wearing babies in slings was done simply for fashion. They also objected to the idea that properly worn slings caused back pain. And the complaints just kept coming.

Firing back against the ad, former fashion model Katja Presnal made a video of her own. This time around, it was a response video featuring the most vehement objections placed on Twitter beside videos of happy looking sling wearing mothers and children.

Watch it here:

Questions of overreaction aside, Presnal and other angry pill protesting moms bring up a valid point about online marketing. You can’t assume a viral campaign is going to be successful just because it will receive the exposure offered by that kind of advertising. Just like with commercials, print ads, billboards, and radio spots, you have to run your campaign by test groups. If the response on Twitter is any indication, showing that commercial to an average test group would have thrown up some major red flags. Also, if your ad is targeted to mothers, maybe a mother or two should be in on the storyboard. In other words, if this ad wanted to be successful with mothers, maybe some mothers (who are also ad professionals) should drive the ideas. It seems like common sense, but there was obviously a lapse in this case.

Who knows? Gauging by this reaction and others like it, maybe focus groups will be moved entirely to Twitter in the near future…

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