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Motrin Pulls Babywearing Ad Campaign After Twitterstorm

November 18, 2008

Recently, Motrin released an ad promoting the product for relieving the presumed pain of babywearing – problem is, they framed the activity as merely fashionable, as “supposedly” a bonding experience, as so unpleasant that mothers must be asking, “what about me?”

Suddenly, folks were talking about the stupidity of the campaign online, especially via Twitter. See #motrinmoms in the Twitter search for a bit of the discussion. I also saw comments yesterday on FriendFeed, and this take by David Rothman pretty well summed up the reaction:

1. It discounts years of legitimate research on carriers being good for babies for the sake of shilling ibuprofen. It is not just a fashion any more than car seats are.

2. It suggests moms (they don’t mention us dads) use these because they feel they are SUPPOSED to (not because they are good for babies or awfully convenient).

3. The “what about me” is appalling.

4. Carriers cause less pain than trying to carry a baby without one.

5. “It totally makes me look like an official mom” – again, as though one uses it to LOOK like a good parent. For they record, we use an Ergo baby carrier. I have chronic back pain problems and it doesn’t hurt my back. Simon loves it.

Oh yeah- and I resent all of the advertisements that act as though moms are the only caregivers. – David Rothman

Just a couple of days after the flurry of attention began, the campaign has been pulled. According to a piece in AdAge, “their impact was felt by J&J last night. McNeil Consumer Healthcare took down, and VP-Marketing Kathy Widmer started apologizing to bloggers via e-mail.”

The rest of the AdAge piece is a great summary, and Pharmalot has this additional commentary “I’m sure they didn’t expect these babywearing moms to be extremely tech savvy and attacking them online with viral boycotting campaigns…they underestimated their target market.” I know, companies and advertisers underestimating their audience of women – shocking, right? Johnson & Johnson has issued an apology on their official blog.

The discussion has also apparently drawn attention to a campaign to donate slings to needy families through a group called “No Mother Left Behind.” Although, ahem, perhaps they should call themselves “No Caregiver Left Behind.”

5 Comments leave one →
  1. David permalink
    November 18, 2008 9:06 am

    Thank you!

  2. David permalink
    November 18, 2008 9:07 am


    Thank you for this:

    Although, ahem, perhaps they should call themselves “No Caregiver Left Behind.”

  3. November 18, 2008 1:53 pm

    I’m as annoyed as anyone about the Motrin ad’s implications about me as a mother (that I’m a big ol’ freaky martyr to wear my child, just like I was a big ol’ freaky martyr to give birth without an epidural, with no possible rational reasons or benefit on my part, and that any reasonable woman would get over herself and buy a stroller like the other mommies). I also think it’s funny that one segment of the baby-wearing population is made of up people like me: mothers and fathers who, far from wanting to look like ‘real moms,’ emphatically don’t want to become the mainstream, suburban, stroller-pushing, tons-of-crap-lugging Mommies and Daddies as seen on TV (and in restaurants and stores, irritating us with their giant strollers).

    But I agree that the MOST disturbing thing about that ad was also the most commonplace part–the assumption that only mothers wear babies, and indeed that only mothers parent. I also hate that so many baby products (including some slings/carriers) only feature photos of the baby being cared for by a woman, etc. It makes my husband feel omitted, it makes a lot of women feel isolated and solely responsible, and it gives many men the impression that they A) don’t have to and B) really had better not genuinely parent their children. Blech and blech again. Anyway, I’m always wincing at the mommies-only names of so many parenting advocate groups and efforts, and it’s nice to hear people mention this issue.

  4. January 13, 2009 9:57 pm

    What about me? I don’t think so. I absolutely LOVE wearing my son-pushing him around in a Hummer-sized stroller is a completely different story.


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