CommCore Blog and News

PR Wins: Motrin

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The rapid response from McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a Johnson & Johnson Company, to the controversy about the Motrin Mom ads is an example of a PR Win. Earlier this week, the blogosphere reacted swiftly to what mothers felt was an offensive ad. It was not reporters who criticized the ads, it was moms who took to tweets and youtube responses. There was no time for a poll by a newspaper or a review by an accepted expert.

The PR Wins part of the story was the speed with which the PR teams at McNeil responded. Knowing that this could damage the long term reputation of the brand, PR huddled with the other stakeholders at the company and quickly issued an apology and pulled the ad. While we are not privy to all of the conversations, this response indicates that PR had a seat at the table.

As we chronicle PR Wins, it is not intended to make PR look good at the expense of other departments. Our baseline is to help demonstrate the value of PR and when the PR team has a seat at the table for both good and bad news.

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3 Comments

Les Blatt

I think what we’re seeing in the evolution of the Motrin affair is the growing importance of PR in the two-way communications that form the basis of social media. This has developed in what I suspect will be an often-repeated pattern:
1. Company makes a mistake (usually one that seemed like a good idea at the time).
2. Social media responds (Twitter, blogs, etc.)
3. Company, with PR input to underscore the importance of its response to brand image, responds in an appropriate manner.
4. Reasonable heads on both side continue a conversation – you can see it, certainly, on a variety of social media commenter sites in this case, not to mention Twitter.
As we have all said repeatedly, that conversation is going to be at the heart of two-way corporate-consumer communications. Motrin and Johnson & Johnson will both be stronger as a result.

Bob Frump

It would be an interesting next step in crisis communications if PR were able to tilt the twitters and social media… Of course, that can’t always and shouldn’t always be done. But in a more marginal case, I’m wondering whether J&J had the social media smarts and horses to handle that…

Howard Greenstein

I don’t think this was a PR win – it was a lost opportunity to get an ongoing win – a conversation with the angry mobs, uh, moms that were attacking the ad.
Pulling the ad and apologizing are one tactic. Another is asking for feedback, in public, and being willing to make it into a conversation where Motrin gets to hear how to better appeal to moms next time. This ad looks like it grew from a focus group, but the moms who got angry obviously didn’t relate to the people surveyed.
Asking “how can we communicate better with you in the future” could have stimulated the discussion in a whole new direction.
I’m hoping Motrin will work to create a Social Media listening/response strategy.
More at
http://harbrooke.com/2008/12/motrin-gets-a-headache-while-ford-needs-no-new-media-bailout/

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