How#MotrinMom Brought Down J&J

Published on November 18th, 2008 | by

[social_buttons]If you are an avid Twitter user, you might have been able to notice the power of social media and the perhaps terrifying way this new phenomenon can impact businesses large and small. This past weekend when #Motrinmoms surpassed “Obama” as the most searched for term on Twitter , it forced J&J’s McNeil Consumer Healthcare into a company in dire need of a social media crisis plan!

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But, I contend, Twitter was only part of the story!

From Ad Age:

Two days after a new ad push for Motrin triggered an online backlash, J&J’s McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit is pulling the campaign, from the New York office of independent shop Taxi, and begging a vocal mommy-blogging nation for forgiveness.

Though the ad had been out for a month, it finally caught the attention of our own prominent Green Options blogger, Jessica Gottlieb who started Twittering about it and published this piece More Outrage as #MotrinMoms Reaches #2 On Twitter on Eco Child’s Play, as well as this one on her own blog, the news spread like wildfire and resulted in the ad being pulled from the website and replaced with an apology.

I had a bit of an inside view of this phenomenon, as Jessica and I both write for Our sister site, Eco Childs Play and Silicon Valley Moms and I follow her on Twitter. So, as a social media marketer, it was interesting to me to watch this whole grass roots campaign develop over the weekend.

The first Tweet came out early Saturday Morning, which Jessica shortly followed with the two blog posts mentioned above. I received 3 or 4 emails from other mommy bloggers, one an attorney, one another marketing expert and a third an author. Most of us who received the email checked out the Motrin site and Jessica’s blog. Depending on the level of outrage, additional blog posts were written and comments made.

As I look at this particular crisis, I notice that, while Twitter is given the credit for driving the outrage, actually, there were several different drivers. Jessica has over 1000 followers on Twitter, many of whom have several hundred followers of their own or more, so of course that spread the word.

However, blogs also played a role. Eco Child’s Play, where Jennifer first wrote about the Motrin piece, with a Google page rank of 5, has several thousand visitors each day. Many of the readers have their own blogs with hundreds or thousands of visitors each day. The multiplier effect is perhaps even greater from the blog pieces than from the Tweets.

Additionally, over the weekend, the loosely connected group of Green Mom bloggers sent out a variety of emails directing additional Moms and bloggers to the various posts and continued to blog about the Motrin ad. One important point to note…some of these Moms are NOT regular Twitter users. (How do I know? As a member of one of these Green Mom groups I was tapped to set up the Twitter page) But they are all avid bloggers.

Each additional blogger that wrote about the subject passed the news to another several thousand, likely far more than saw the post on Twitter. Moms also got on the phone and emailed their friends, creating a synergistic approach that spread the word in a variety of different directions, both to avid Twitter and web users and those never to be found on social media.

As noted on Adage

“You don’t have to have thousands of followers to start something like this,” said Mr. Armano, … “Many people with small networks have just as much influence as a few people with large networks.”

I’d amend that comment a bit. Many people with small networks on Twitter have just as much influence as a few people with large networks…especially women who tend to use a variety of media to connect with a large group of friends.

It is the way that Twitter eases the flow of information from blogger to blogger that is the real power of the medium for marketers enabling the passing on of information to influencers online and off.


About the Author

Hear Maryanne speak on Social Media for Socially Conscious Brands at Expo East on September 27th! Maryanne Conlin is CPG brand marketer and digital marketing expert, CEO of RedRopes Digital and Partner Digital Strategy, 4GreenPs. A Shorty Award winner for best Green Content on Twitter, she was a member of the IAA team that won the Green Award in 2010 and most recently was a finalist for the PRSA - Los Angeles PRISM awards for social media. She and her team focus on providing strategic marketing direction, custom content for web, mobile and social platforms, social media community management and online promotions and digital advertising solutions for companies in the green, food and Hispanic space. Follow her on Twitter @maryanneconlin