How Motrin Should Respond To The Groundswell

A few weeks ago, the Motrin Moms kerfuffle blew up and I tracked it by the numbers just a few days after the explosion. Nearly three weeks later, it’s time to revisit the incident to see what’s happened.

[Brands that get punk’d by social media have an opportunity to quickly respond and enable the groundswell to pirouette the energy towards a positive direction]

Running the numbers you can see interest has piqued for Motrin:


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People are curious: Google insights indicates a spike in searches for the term “Motrin”.

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There’s more interest in Motrin than other competitors: comparing terms “Motrin” to “Tylenol” and “Ibprofen” other brands in the space, there’s a peak that outperforms the market.

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Alexa, a third party traffic monitoring tools, shows a lift in traffic to motrin.com

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Compete.com, a third party traffic monitoring service, also shows a lift in traffic to Motrin.com

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Despite this interest the Motrin has generated the corporate webpage still has an apology dated from Nov 20th (today is Dec 4th)

Motrin misses an opportunity by sulking in the corner
Unfortunately, not much has happened from Motrin’s behalf. The motrin.com corporate homepage is dated with an apology from Kathy Widmer dated Nov 20th and referencing an apology “4 days ago”. Whether or not you think that Motrin did something wrong with their ad or not it really doesn’t matter, as there’s an opportunity being wasted that Motrin should leverage. My job is to help the largest brands in the world understand and benefit from connecting with their customers using web tools, and if motrin were my client, I would advise them with the following:

[Rather than wallow in sorrow, Motrin should leverage global interest in it’s brand. Rather than telling customers what pains them, Motrin should benefit from word of mouth by asking the community “what pains you?”]

Rather than cower in the shadows, Motrin should:

1) Stop Reacting and Develop a Strategy To Lead: Learn how to Judo throw by using the weight of the Groundswell to aid you. Before deploying any tactics, first understand that there are many eyeballs now on Motrin and in some PR circles this is good press from bad –leverage it. If you’re listening to a recent podcast episode of For Immediate Release there’s global attention on Motrin within the social media circle that is quite amazing since the product is only sold in US.

2) Remove the Apology: Suck it up and take that down the mea culpa. In the scheme of things, not every mother was insulted, and the Motrin moms is not indicative of what’s being said by moms that didn’t even see the video ad. Motrin has responded quickly, removed the ad and given a sincere apology in my opinion. Great, now it’s time to move towards the path of recovery.

3) Listen to the Community by Asking “What Pains You”: At Forrester, we use the term “Listening” as one of the objectives for social computing, suggesting that brands can better understand their customers by gleaning insight to what’s already being said. Here’s the opportunity for Motrin to leverage the Groundswell, since many members have already created their own ads (such as this clever play on big boobs), build off the momentum and develop a program to ask mothers what pains them. Obviously telling them what pained them, and playing the empathy card backfired, so instead, just ask them. Allow them to tag the videos, photos, and blog posts with #whatpainsme.

4) Allow the Groundswell to Advertise on Your Behalf: Now that this content has been created by the community, aggregate the popular posts, tweets, video and images on your blog, or corporate homepage, and allow the discussion to continue. Fortunately for Motrin, the worst criticism has already occured, so by even including negative submissions shouldn’t be a problem. By doing this, Motrin will be the center of discussion around pain –which can offer a solution with their relief products.

The above example is advice I would give Motrin if they were my client, but I’m sure there are plenty of other ways to allow both the community and brand to win.

That’s just my take, if you were reporting to the VP of Marketing at Motrin, what would you recommend they do?