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Let me guess- you didn't show that ad to a Mom, did you?
November 16, 2008 2:28 PM   Subscribe

Want to sell your pain reliever to mothers? Rule #1: Don't make an ad that pisses off the "Mommy Bloggers". Twitter is currently "Motrin Moms" central- but that's not good news for Motrin.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (119 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not everybody thinks this whole thing is worth all the hoopla.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:32 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't understand why anyone is mad about this ad. It looks like the baby-slings don't hurt some mothers' backs or shoulders or necks. But why is that worthy of a boycott? I read all of that and still don't understand the controversy.
posted by aburd at 2:40 PM on November 16, 2008


I'm sure someone can explain how freaking out over a commercial that acknowledges that having children is not a 100% awesome all the time experience -- which seems to be the major theme of every "mommy blog" I have ever seen in life, ever -- makes perfect sense?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:43 PM on November 16, 2008 [5 favorites]


I gather that the madness stems from the patronising, 'we understand you!' message in the ad that, clearly, a lot of mothers didn't feel all that understood by. I'm not sure that it deserves such an explosive reaction, but I guess that's due more to Twitter and the community there than the ad itself.
posted by twirlypen at 2:44 PM on November 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


I didn't realize that overthinking a plate of beans happened anywhere but here.
posted by msali at 2:45 PM on November 16, 2008 [8 favorites]


Is this something I would have to be an irrational mom to be offended by?
posted by aswego at 2:47 PM on November 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


I was just tracking that story! I think it's interesting. I can understand the hoopla, I think; the ad is pretty condescending about slings, saying they're trendy and a mark of motherhood while out in public, with a nod to the idea that they're "supposed" to be good for baby. People who use slings generally don't use them for trite reasons, first off. So I can see parents getting upset about that. Additionally, since they're targeting women with this sling thing; women with babies in slings are usually still breast-feeding. Taking motrin while breast-feeding is not really a good idea. A lot of women try to cut down on meds while breast-feeding.

Basically, the ad seems to assume that nursing women look kinda dumb. It's subtle, but if it's targeted at you, I bet it feels more stinging.

I say this not as a mother myself, but as an auntie with a sister who had her first child in a sling even once he was over 25 lbs. I don't know how she did it.
posted by Hildegarde at 2:47 PM on November 16, 2008 [5 favorites]


If you're talking about an add, it really doesn't matter what you're saying, it's worked. I'm sure Motrin is pretty excited about all this.
posted by Citizen Premier at 2:47 PM on November 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm having trouble loading the video. Can everyone else still see it?
posted by Hildegarde at 2:48 PM on November 16, 2008


That ad is just bad. It just rankles me on so many levels. The tone is so snarky and the mom comes off as so skeptical about the whole baby wearing thing. She pretty much admits she's doing it for appearances, making an age-old custom seem like a silly fad. I am sending a nice padded sling to my sister for her baby shower. I can imagine her opening it and all of the non-baby wearing people there telling her how much it's going to hurt to use. I would think lugging around one of those car seat carriers all day would be much more painful.
posted by Biblio at 2:50 PM on November 16, 2008 [6 favorites]


This company decided to aim their marketing at a tiny percentage of potential customers (people who wear their baby) and pissed of a tiny percentage of that tiny percentage (people who wear their baby and have time to blog about it)? Do I have that right?

I'm not sure who's dafter, the research-shy company or the overreacting tweet squadron.
posted by jack_mo at 2:54 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here's the ad on YouTube.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:54 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


@jack_mo: I wouldn't say they're overreacting. They're just talking about it. That's what the internet is for these days. Participatory culture.
posted by Hildegarde at 2:55 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


It seems like an overreaction to me. I thought it was a relatively benign ad. I certainly didn't get any condescending undertones from it, but I'm not a mother.
posted by schyler523 at 2:57 PM on November 16, 2008


My mother still carries me around in a sling and cries all the time. This ad made her furious. So did the number 7 bus, who she is convinced is plotting against her. Tuna, for some reason, makes her laugh.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:58 PM on November 16, 2008 [21 favorites]


The ad wasn't loading for me either, but the text is here on MamaDivas, with helpful bolding of the words that are sparking the anger.

It is a very bad mis-step on Motrin's part. They definately have a point that babywearing can cause aches and pains, but the lines about it being "in fashion" and "supposedly" good for the baby are NOT going to appeal to any mother who enjoys babywearing. And most women do it because they enjoy it, or because it's convenient, not because it makes them look like a real mom.
posted by saffry at 2:59 PM on November 16, 2008


In the future present, everyone will be famous pissed off for fifteen minutes.
posted by infinitewindow at 3:04 PM on November 16, 2008 [6 favorites]


If you believe the idea that in advertising, the most important thing is how the buyer thinks the product will impact others social perception of him/her, it makes perfect sense. Being anything but pro-babywearing is, in the momverse, about as uncool as tapered pants were in 2002.
posted by selfmedicating at 3:04 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm going to have to add to the chorus of "Yeah, it was a definite mis-step on Motrin's part". I have a feeling the ad will quietly and quickly die, and life in the marketing world will go on.

Having said that, I'm glad this was posted, if for no other reason than to understand why I've been seeing motrinmom all over Twitter and wondering what on earth this was all about. It really spread with the voracity of spam. Maybe next time around they can use that remarkable power of persuasion towards something more substantial than pain-reliever ad.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:07 PM on November 16, 2008


Hormones?
posted by snofoam at 3:11 PM on November 16, 2008


People who wear babies should be locked up.

Fucking sick.
posted by Beautiful Screaming Lady at 3:12 PM on November 16, 2008 [4 favorites]


Can't believe I forgot to mention that this is International Babywearing Week.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:13 PM on November 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yeah, sheesh. My wife started breast feeding our kid because it was "supposedly" good for him, and all the stares in public made her feel like she'd finally made the status of "real mom." But after a hard day of keeping the baby "fed" she found a shot of Maker's Mark whiskey really took the edge off.
posted by Otis at 3:17 PM on November 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


People who wear babies should be locked up.

It rubs the talcum on its skin.
posted by pracowity at 3:18 PM on November 16, 2008 [12 favorites]


There were a lot of loaded words. I have no opinion on this ad, really, but I can imangine why some of the people it was aimed at would dislike it.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:20 PM on November 16, 2008


I'm still wearing the first baby I ever skinned.
posted by chlorus at 3:22 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


@jack_mo: I wouldn't say they're overreacting. They're just talking about it. That's what the internet is for these days. Participatory culture.

I dunno, some of the weblog entries linked in the post seem a bit ranty or superior, and jumping to boycott a company for making a mildly sarky advert seems a bit over the top. Boycotts used to be employed against companies that supported Apartheid or aggressively promoted dangerous formula milk - you know, companies that actually killed babies!

It is interesting that Twitter/weblogs enable a small group to express their annoyance and organise a boycott, and that the Twitter/weblog angle will provide a nice hook for wider media coverage, so the damage to the painkiller company might well end up being considerable.

Would it be wrong of me to point out that the only time I ever see a baby in sling is at openings at the more fashionable art galleries? Whatever the benefits/history of the practice, slings are the current fad, equivalent to those groovy over-engineered buggys with big wheels parents used to sport in the '90s.
posted by jack_mo at 3:23 PM on November 16, 2008


Oh joy. Another media outlet casting sarcastic dispersions on my parenting choices. Fuck Motrin and their crappy-ass pain relievers.

And any new mom in the know has been rationing her postpartum Percocet, although mostly for the pain that results from your new baby suctioning several layers of skin off your nipples. Pain from episiotomy stitches or a busted-up cooter or pissed off sciatic nerves. If you're having trouble with your baby carrier, get a stroller or drive to fucking Nebraska already. Christ.

/hormonal
posted by bibliowench at 3:23 PM on November 16, 2008 [13 favorites]


I learned something new today. "Babywearing" is a verb and sounds really, really wrong when you think about it out-of-context.
posted by Windigo at 3:25 PM on November 16, 2008


I tried to find something J&J makes that I could buy to counter the OMGMOMMIES but I realized that they don't make much that I need.
posted by Kwantsar at 3:30 PM on November 16, 2008


What's with running text and voice that looks like a Chuck Jones knockoff these days?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:30 PM on November 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


And after all that ranting (god, that felt good), I'm mostly just pissed off because the ad seemed so fucking condescending. There are so many more pressing concerns going through our brains during this time, and I don't know any mothers who use baby slings or carriers because of societal pressure. It's just not that big a deal with all the other crap we have to worry about (literal and figurative), and the whole confessional, just-between-us-girls tone is insultingly off. It's like they promoted the brain trust that thought teenage girls loved to talk about douche with their moms.
posted by bibliowench at 3:33 PM on November 16, 2008 [11 favorites]


If blogging had been around when I was a small child, and my mother had been a mommy blogger, I'm pretty sure I would have grown up to hate her. Mommy blogging has always struck me as incredibly exploitative, and mommy bloggers as incredibly self-centered Internet drama producers. At least, I never hear about mommy bloggers when there's not drama going on, and yet I still seem to hear about them quite regularly.

I have no particular comment on this latest piece of ridiculous drama.
posted by Caduceus at 3:34 PM on November 16, 2008 [14 favorites]


Erm, it seems to me that the intent of the commercial was the following idea:

"Lots of moms wear their babies these days... Wearing babies can cause aches and pains. Motrin relieves aches and pains. Buy some."

Maybe they screwed up in their delivery. But does the idea that Motrin was trying to insult anyone with their ad really make much sense?
posted by FortyT-wo at 3:34 PM on November 16, 2008


I read the post, a few linked articles and tweets and then finally watched the video. And I'm with @jackmo.

Honestly, Big. Fricking. Deal. Some company made a stupid commercial with clumsy copywriting and people are mad about it? Back before Twitter, blogs, etc., people watched a dumb ad once and then moved on with their lives. Now we get all fired up about the tiniest, pettiest stuff and discuss it ad infinitum.

Something tells me that most of the outraged Twitterers are come from America, the land of the chronically offended.

I'm American and both male and childless. But I always thought parenting clarified one's priorities ... and I really don't see how getting offended over a commercial is important on any scale. The root word in Twitter is 'twit,' and this debate demonstrates it.

Of course, I'm all huffy and participatory over an Internet conversation about an Internet conversation ...
posted by chinese_fashion at 3:34 PM on November 16, 2008


Nice post! Interesting links.

I can see how someone would be put off by the "supposedly" part but really, in context, I find it pretty harmless. It is remarkable to see how the rage over this ad has spread. I'm not even sure what a Twitter is, and now I'm sort of scared.
posted by Neofelis at 3:34 PM on November 16, 2008


As the stay-at-home dad of a six month year old, I'll admit that carrying a baby (with or without sling) can hurt. But, as all dads know, the only cure is whiskey.
posted by drezdn at 3:38 PM on November 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm so sorry for what I'm about to do

HOW IS BABBY WORN

All right, then. Carry on.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:43 PM on November 16, 2008 [35 favorites]


It sounds like these uptight mothers could use some lithium or a diet coke. Something to pull them out of this slump.
posted by clearly at 3:44 PM on November 16, 2008


Yes, indeedy, bibliowench.

As a mommy and one who used to wear the babies, I found the tone of the ad condescending, but mostly clueless.

It stuns me that this ad was made. That groups of human beings sat around in conference rooms, debated their options, sent emails and faxes, hired talent and bought air time...and no one pulled the plug on this thing?

It's less the -existence- of the ad (which is easy enough to ignore), than the fact that it suggests a corporate environment that is COMPLETELY out of touch with a huge section of the population. If the mommy track of corporate America could leave spoor, it would look like this ad.
posted by pantarei70 at 3:48 PM on November 16, 2008 [4 favorites]


People who wear babies should be locked up.

Before they start dragging them around shopping centres on little leashes? Yeah...

OK, so that's snark. But I despair a little that the answer to "Doctor! Doctor! It hurts when I do this" is no longer a sensible "well, stop doing that!" but "OK, just take these pills".
posted by Pinback at 3:48 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think the ad is incredibly condescending to mothers. Oi. If carrying babies in slings is "fashionable," does that mean that the women in developing nations who have been doing this since time immemorial are trendsetters?

Anyhow. On the other hand. I get their idea. I do. I'm a nanny and I carry around a 40lb. two year old (she's GIGANTIC for her age) all day long. She has a stroller, but there are many times when we'll be walking around somewhere and she'll beg for "Up! Pease!" So, what can you do? You up.

Just last week, I pulled a muscle in my shoulder from all the up. I didn't use Motrin though. I used Advil. I should start my own ad campaign. "Advil: For when you love so much that you up too much."
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:49 PM on November 16, 2008 [4 favorites]


Feeding a baby whiskey generally solves a large category of problems, I find.
posted by shadytrees at 3:50 PM on November 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't know any mothers who use baby slings or carriers because of societal pressure. It's just not that big a deal with all the other crap we have to worry about

Yet tons of energy to get up in arms about the advert.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:54 PM on November 16, 2008


Here's how the ad meeting went down:

Ad exec: ...so you can see, ladies and gentlemen, from chart 3C, our research has found that mothers who carry their children in a sling for long periods of time develop muscle pains, so our ad will target them.

Motrin exec: What will the tone of the ad be?

Ad exec: Well, we thought about a traditional ad showing a mother holding her baby in a sling. She bends down and winces in pain -not too much pain, though - and the v.o. says "Motrin, for those days when carrying your baby get to be a bit too much." That was the original plan, anyway...

Motrin exec: ...and?

Ad exec: Well, we scrapped that for a really cool motion typography video in which we unload a metric shitload of snark and condescension on these "good" mothers. Check it out:

shows ad

What do you think?

Motrin exec: It's a winner! I love snark!


For those who don't get the "hoopla": holy christ that's one condescending ad. It could very well have been written by a mother (or father), but that seems highly unlikely.

I'm a soon-to-be first time dad, and the wife and I are in the market for all manner of baby accoutrements: stroller, baby bed, clothes, and yes, slings. The advice we've gotten from the mothers on both sides of our families say that a sling is the way to go during infancy; strollers are cumbersome and infants need fairly constant physical contact, whether they're crying or not.

This ad slams anyone who would use a sling as "just being trendy". Huh? Like slings, in one form or another, have probably been in use since the dawn of civilization. Those slings? Really, Motrin? This was your best try?

cool motion typography, though
posted by zardoz at 3:54 PM on November 16, 2008 [10 favorites]


I've seen a lot of suggestions that the advertisers at Motrin must not have run this ad by any actual mothers. I really find this hard to believe. I don't think many major companies publish advertisements without first trying them on test groups. It seems more likely to me that they happened to get a test group that wasn't put off by the first part of the ad (which does seem condescending, although it seems clear to me from the end of the commercial that they weren't trying to imply that baby slings should never be used).

Also, I think there may be an over-inflation of the degree to which people were offended by the ad. Clearly, some people are going all the way and calling for a boycott, but the fact that hundreds of people have posted to Twitter that they found it offensive or annoying might just mean that an awful lot of people were at least slightly offended or annoyed. That, combined with a smaller group of people who were extremely pissed off (and understandably were much more vocal) creates the impression that everyone is mad as hell.* Of course, I don't know that they're not all really that angry, but I wouldn't be surprised to discover that most of the Twitter entries were posted my mildly annoyed people. After all, Twitter isn't exactly the kind of place where you might sleep on a thought before posting it.

*There's also the psychological effect in which discussing a weakly held opinion with people who agree with you strengthens your views. Anyone remember what this effect is called?
posted by ErWenn at 3:58 PM on November 16, 2008


The frustrating thing is that it's making this about "babywearing" specifically, because the PR people at Motrin think that the slings and wraps are a fashion accessory. If Motrin had simply talked about the many, many things that happen in a Mom (or Dad's) day that make you want to collapse in bed, then there would be no outrage.

Instead, they singled out a parenting tool that is a time-honored method for calming, feeding and caring for a child. Babywearing is also tied up with breastfeeding for a lot of women, and I think some of the anger can come from the fact that women often hear these same condescending attitudes about breastfeeding being "trendy" or the badge of a "real mom".

For the record, I probably had less aches and pains with my son, who loved his new native carrier, then with my daughter, who hated it. Not using a sling means bending over to pick up and put down the baby more often, and carrying in your arms more often. That is pain. And one of my fondest memories is taking in a Sox/Orioles game with the kid sleeping in the sling while I cheered the game.
posted by saffry at 4:01 PM on November 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


What a drag it is getting old.
posted by diogenes at 4:02 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yet tons of energy to get up in arms about the advert.

This, coming on a site which has generated more than 130 messages in a few hours regarding production still from a future movie.

At least one of the things that makes this a touchy subject is that parenthood in general and motherhood in specific is one of those areas in which just about everyone and their aunt Fanny likes to express their opinion and advice, framed in dire warnings about the child's future development. Breastfeeding draws about the worst wank possible, but it wouldn't surprise me if snuggly vs. stroller wank was getting up there. Pfizer probably just stuck their foot into something that's a bit of a nasty ongoing flamewar among internet moms that engage in online communities about parenting.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:07 PM on November 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


I did not know "babywearing" was a word people said until just today. Yesterday's word was "hospitalist." The ad also was like "hey we know you look crazy, but it's because you're trying to keep up with all the trendy mommy things" and not something sane like you're tired and babies are awesome but tiring. The "what about MY needs?" part was what I found obnoxious, personally. Then again, I've never really bought Motrin, it's just ibuprofen with a bigger ad budget, right?
posted by jessamyn at 4:10 PM on November 16, 2008


Motrin Blue
posted by humannaire at 4:11 PM on November 16, 2008


Anybody who can work up actual outrage over that ad is way too sensitive. And baby slings do hurt my back. I put my daughter on the floor when my arms get tired. She likes the change of scenery. I guess that wouldn't really work at a ball game.
posted by diogenes at 4:17 PM on November 16, 2008


Where does this trendy business come from? My oldest kid is twenty eight and we carried all of the little fuckers in a sling before they got too heavy. Is it that they've just landed in the USA or something?

But here's another question. Every pregnant women I ever knew bitched about the backache from carrying it before the baby was born. How come the back ache somehow decreases when the kid gets heavier, but you carry it about in a sling rather than in your belly? Is it because you aren't spending the same amount of time hoiking the damn thing around with you?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:18 PM on November 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


But after a hard day of keeping the baby "fed" she found a shot of Maker's Mark whiskey really took the edge off.

For her or the baby?
posted by nax at 4:20 PM on November 16, 2008


Now that I think about it, aren't a lot of new mommies in their 20s?

Back when I was in my 20s, I was capable of being outraged by just about everything. I remember going into a half-hour tear about misuse of semicolons.

Now I save my outrage for where it really matters, such as when I discover a bar doesn't refrigerate their vermouth.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:27 PM on November 16, 2008 [10 favorites]


Am I the only one who noticed that there was no "safe to take when nursing" point made in that ad? Because when my daughter was in the Baby Björn belly-baby-pack-phase I was still nursing and that would be my very first question when considering a pain-killer or anything at all - can I take this while I'm nursing? Failing to make that clear, while adopting the snark really didn't make it seem as if they did understand what a mother thinks [tm] at all. After nine months of "you can't eat that!" moms are picky as hell about what they allow to enter their body.

And attacking babywearing as a whole is just silly when the different ways of wearing sorts moms into sub-groups. For example, urban Baby-Björn moms laugh at hippie sling moms and scoff at people who have that steel enforced thing which carries the baby backwards, making the poor child strain their necks to see anything. Oh there's mom-gangs sorted by how you wear your baby, don't mess with 'em. Once in a while they'll break out in babywearing rival dancing just like in west side story. ;)
posted by dabitch at 4:36 PM on November 16, 2008 [5 favorites]


And yet this is not nearly as outrageous as the entire advertising agency treats men.
posted by boo_radley at 4:41 PM on November 16, 2008


PeterMcDermott, babywearing in fact is fairly recent to the US, if you go by how long women have been "wearing" their babies (thousands of years). In the 50s, it was strollers all the way. In the 60s only hippie moms used carriers; in the 70s and 80s the Snuggli found its way over here from Denmark, but it was very much a middle class phenom (that was me). However, all those kids who got carried around in the snuggli are having kids and I think it's gotten pretty ubiquitous with that generation. (This is an oversimplification based entirely on my urban middle class observations, but since that's who the ad was targeting, I think it's a useful enough history.)

Boycotts used to be employed against companies that supported Apartheid or aggressively promoted dangerous formula milk

Boycotts need not be only for socially important causes. A boycott is a tool for letting vendors know what you prefer, whether it's inconsequential or world-changing. I have personally boycotted Milky Way candy since 1965 when they changed the wrapper from the cool bronzey-green to that boring ugly brown. I even wrote them a letter about it when I was 9. They sent me a coupon. I tried boycotting 10th grade science because the teacher was a jerk, but that didn't work out as well. If only I'd had Twitter!

Years ago if an ad pissed you off you told a few friends, hey Motrin ads suck I'm not buying it any more. Now it's just really easy to get this sentiment out to hundreds or thousands of people.
posted by nax at 4:45 PM on November 16, 2008


If carrying babies in slings is "fashionable," does that mean that the women in developing nations who have been doing this since time immemorial are trendsetters?

Saying that Mongolian barbeque or whatever has become trendy does not mean that Mongolia was invented last week in Milan. Just because drums, circles, and fire have existed for thousands of years does not mean that my corporate drum-circle-fire-walk spirit journey weekend retreats are not extremely trendy.

It rubs the talcum on its skin.

Motrin: You don't know what pain is.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 4:46 PM on November 16, 2008 [6 favorites]


viral
posted by voltairemodern at 5:01 PM on November 16, 2008


CALGON TAKE ME AWAY
posted by DU at 5:12 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you really want to flummox people who judge you based on how you carry your child, try carrying him in a potato sack. They won't know if you're a hippy or a yuppy or what.
posted by diogenes at 5:16 PM on November 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


The ad also was like "hey we know you look crazy, but it's because you're trying to keep up with all the trendy mommy things" and not something sane like you're tired and babies are awesome but tiring.

The "trendy mommy things" part of it sailed right over my head, but yeah, it is there. I can see how that's not great, and certainly reflects on who created this ad, and far removed they probably are from their intended audience. I think the reason I took no note of it is that women have carried their babies in packs as far as back as I can remember (I guess the adults in my life when I was a kid were all hippies? that sort of tracks, actually), so the idea that it's now trendy doesn't even register for me.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:29 PM on November 16, 2008


So basically, modern American moms have rediscovered the "grand ancient tradition" of babywearing and now you can buy a baby sling in 12 DIFFERENT COLORS!!

Motrin, recognizing this trendy new practice (c.f. nax, uppity pigeon #2) made a commercial in which a yuppie 30-something woman snarkily says "Yeah the baby likes it, but what's in it for me? Back pain, that's what!"

Can anyone honestly say they haven't expressed similar sentiments, whether about a child, pet, friend or some other onerous responsibility?

Then again, I suppose it's possible that Motrin, those sneaky bastards, spent millions of dollars to create an advertisement which every focus group they showed it to rejected as condescending, insulting garbage, and then they released it anyway. Because, as we know, alienating customers is the key to getting them to buy your product!
posted by R_Nebblesworth at 5:57 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Whining blogger mommies give me a headache. I think maybe their ad agency has pulled off the greatest painkiller commercial ever.
posted by bradbane at 6:04 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hildegarde: "Taking motrin while breast-feeding is not really a good idea. "

Nah, it's okay. It's L1, or as safe as drugs can get for nursing mothers.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:06 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


After hitting three links in the post and not finding the ad, I decided to quit playing whack-a-mole and go do something fun.

This usability report provided free of charge.
posted by mecran01 at 6:06 PM on November 16, 2008


I was a worn baby. I think, like kfb, I didn't know that most people in my generation weren't.
posted by jessamyn at 6:08 PM on November 16, 2008


Way to take a great sales idea that is totally true (baby wearing can make you sore -- even for Dads (sub parens: thanks again for forgetting us Motrons!)) and pitch it in precisely the wrong tone.

This could have been such a good ad.
posted by rusty at 6:09 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


That voice acting is bad, bad, bad.
posted by sondrialiac at 6:15 PM on November 16, 2008


Heh, a link to shankman.com -- I knew that guy back in the AOL days.
posted by WolfDaddy at 6:24 PM on November 16, 2008


And yet this is not nearly as outrageous as the entire advertising agency treats men.

Pays them enormous salaries and subsidizes their Viagra?
posted by Bookhouse at 6:29 PM on November 16, 2008 [5 favorites]


Seeing income data associated with this would be profoundly interesting. I would be willing to bet outrage over this and household income correlate perfectly.

"I was outraged I tell you, outraged! So, I told Marisa (the nanny) to stay late this afternoon, as I just had to tell my audience on the web how offensive this is to all us progressive mothers".

Phooey.

Also, Ibuprofen is nothing short of a modern miracle drug. But, Motrin is in the unenviable position of trying to sell a product that is actually IDENTICAL to many of its competitors, including generics.

You gotta do something to differentiate. *shrug*
posted by Ynoxas at 6:37 PM on November 16, 2008


I think the touchiness of mom-bloggers is not hard to understand. They are a) usually dealing with a lot of hormones during the breastfeeding years (plus: sleep deprivation!), and b) held responsible for every little psychological or physical dent their child may or may not receive during their upbringing.

Seriously, if you look at Mom ads/magazine articles/news stories as a whole, you will discover a constant insistence that you must guard your child from 8 million unimaginable dangers (babynappers, the plague, invisible and undectable pollutants that will make them into drooling mutants, gluten, Barney, etc.) whilst also never preventing them becoming strong, capable, adventurous types. It is crazy-making in the most literal sense.

I personally thought the ad was more lame than disrespectful, but I no longer care for an infant. Moms of infants and young toddlers are ticking time bombs. Doesn't take much to set them off.
posted by emjaybee at 6:44 PM on November 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


Upon further reflection, it makes sense that many, if not most, Americans haven't been exposed to the sling/Snugli/baby backpack. Americans don't walk, they drive. Everywhere. When they get to their destination, a stroller is likely unloaded from the family SUV.

In other countries, or in densely packed U.S. cities, driving everywhere often isn't an option, so the slings make more sense if you're walking around downtown or riding the subway somewhere.
posted by zardoz at 6:44 PM on November 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


The motrin folks respond.
posted by Hildegarde at 7:00 PM on November 16, 2008


It's possible, though it would require a bit of conspiracy on the part of Motrin, that the ad isn't geared towards moms that babywear at all. In this nontroversy, the ad is actually targeted at the moms who see babywearing as a fad. They might agree with the snarky tone and be drawn in to consider this name brand medicine for their own mom pains, in a "look at those 'weird' moms who strap their babies to them. Us moms in the Real America™ don't cotton to those European baby methods and we use motrin because it doesn't contain MSG."
posted by drezdn at 7:05 PM on November 16, 2008


Andy Warhol's generation got 15 minutes of fame. Our generation gets a violin-heavy YouTube video montage featuring still photos of infants (or puppies) doing things that the Man doesn't want them to do. I feel cheated.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 7:27 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was a worn baby. I think, like kfb, I didn't know that most people in my generation weren't.

Not me. I'm fairly sure they just tied me to the bumper like a deer.
posted by jonmc at 7:33 PM on November 16, 2008 [5 favorites]


Anybody who can work up actual outrage over that ad is way too sensitive.

Sure, but anybody who can't see the snark in that ad - which is aimed directly at the target audience for the ad - is way too inured to sarcasm.
posted by mediareport at 7:52 PM on November 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


Also, Ibuprofen is nothing short of a modern miracle drug. But, Motrin is in the unenviable position of trying to sell a product that is actually IDENTICAL to many of its competitors, including generics.

Which is why they should do like advil. Fuck off with the ads and concentrate on making the candy shell extra SUPER delicious.
posted by stet at 8:40 PM on November 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


Fuck off with the ads and concentrate on making the candy shell extra SUPER delicious.

Damn right! Every time I get a headache, I take, like, 40 Advils and the headache goes away and I drool and they pump my stomach! It's fucking great!

And I get to eat charcoal! Charcoal! What a society!
posted by dirigibleman at 8:52 PM on November 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


I did not know "babywearing" was a word people said until just today.

Same here, and my daughter spent a good deal of her first year strapped into a sling around either my or my wife's neck.

In fact, as a babywearing vet, about the only downside of babywearing I can think of is that apparently something so thuddingly obvious and old-as-time logical is being treated in some circles like a "movement" or "community" or "trend" or whatever the hell - and indeed maybe so delicate a thing it can't withstand a bit of apparently accidental less-than-kid-glove treatment from Pfizer, because you know how can I carry on with the agonies of non-conformist parenting if Pfizer isn't on my side 100% - and so now I'm kind of retroactively worried people thought I was one of those babywearing movement people when I used to go to the market with my girl in the ole sling.

'Cause that'd be kind of embarrassing, to have people think you were so fucking precious about it all.
posted by gompa at 9:08 PM on November 16, 2008


So what exactly is wrong with being trendy? I realize that there are a lot of people out there that don't care about trends or being trendy, but why is being "trendy" as offensive as being "liberal" is?

That said, fuck the brand names, generic OTCs FTW.
Yes, I am cheap, why do you ask?
posted by agress at 9:51 PM on November 16, 2008


What's with running text and voice that looks like a Chuck Jones knockoff these days?

Kinetic typography

I'm really surprised we aren't discussing the lame execution. In fact, I think the presentation (replete with dopey iconography) may have been part of the problem -- if this had been an actress speaking to the camera there'd have been no hoopla. Maybe not having a "character" to focus on made Motrin itself the goat.
posted by dhartung at 10:10 PM on November 16, 2008


The last outrage-storm that was generated on Twitter was over something lame too.
posted by grouse at 10:16 PM on November 16, 2008


So what exactly is wrong with being trendy?

To many people, it denotes a lack of deep convictions or tastes, a sheeplike nature and an unbecoming desire to win approval from others.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:17 PM on November 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


bout the only downside of babywearing I can think of is that apparently something so thuddingly obvious and old-as-time logical is being treated in some circles like a "movement" or "community" or "trend"

A lot of it is due to its prominent role in attachment parenting, which is, indeed, a departure from a long-standing norm and a damned important one at that.
posted by sondrialiac at 10:20 PM on November 16, 2008


Why do I think the mommy bloggers read this webcomic?
posted by clockworkjoe at 10:27 PM on November 16, 2008


Why do I think the mommy bloggers read this webcomic?

Because you don't know any. Most of them would see her as existing at an extreme.

Although this one is spot-on.
posted by sondrialiac at 10:36 PM on November 16, 2008


Aren't ads supposed to mention what the product they're advertising actually does?
posted by minifigs at 1:44 AM on November 17, 2008


*shrugs* I'm not a mother, but I get it; it's sort of screamingly obvious to me. After seeing the ad, the first thing I was reminded of was McCain's "health of the mother" in scorn-quotes.

I think they intended to capture the tone of the smart, wry, funny, somewhat irreverent mommyblogger, and just totally, totally missed the bus. It actually wasn't a bad idea (not the sling rant, neccessarily but the general idea), if they had been able to get the tone right, but they missed it by a mile.

First of all, they needed to establish at least a simulacrum of cozy-just-between-us-mom-to-mom atmosphere (utter failure), then they needed to choose an aspect of new motherhood that is widely-shared and headache inducing and poke gentle fun at it while firmly anchoring the underlying presupposition that this is a good, thoughtful, caring mom speaking - someone just like you who really wouldn't have it any other way, but maybe needs a bit of help to cope sometimes. This sounded like someone who has never changed a diaper pretending to be a mom, who thinks you do things just because they are "the fashion", docilely submitting to whatever is "supposedly" good for the baby, despite your own doubts and feelings of resentment. In other words, Loser Mom. Not a great hook.
posted by taz at 2:02 AM on November 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Oh man. I had a couple days there where I was starting to become sympathetic to the breeders...

But if the snarky Motrin criticism is about some people being quick to jump on a trendy bandwagon. You know, way to prove them wrong by jumping your minor complaint to the top of the Twitter pile there, you bloggy blogger mama divas, you.
posted by Skwirl at 2:34 AM on November 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


Whenever I read about baby slings, I picture a proud halfling standing defiant in defense of his family. His wife cowers behind him, cooing at their newborn child who is crying in a sling. The orc raiders mass for a final attack and the halfling reaches back, taking the sling in hand. He starts to spin the sling above his head, his child building up speed, before he flings it at the head raider doing 1d4+1 damage.

The orc laughs as it's just a baby and he can take that much damage. His laughter turns to pain as it turns out the 5 XP the halfling got for killing his baby is just enough to advance him in level, causing a boost to his stats and opening up new feats and spell levels that he then uses to roast the raiders, thus gaining still yet more XP.

After the fight is over, the mother gathers her dead child in her arms and casts Raise Dead. The baby cries back to life, none the worse for the loss of experience points. She gains experience from the act.

Another raiding party crests the hill.

And the circle of life spins on like a baby in a sling.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:08 AM on November 17, 2008 [7 favorites]


What's especially ridiculous about the ad is that, HEY LADY, IF THE SLING HURTS YOUR BACK, JUST STOP USING THE FUCKING SLING. It's classic Big Pharma "We have a pill for that!" syndrome.

That said, if women are so riled about how they are portrayed in one little Motrin ad, this might just be one of those rare moments when they should be thankful they're not men.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:34 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I guess I'm in the "what's it to you?" camp again. Some women online were annoyed at this. Many women probably don't care terribly much. As someone who learned about this via this thread, I can see why it might be annoying, but I'm not going to go write my congressmen because it seems like one of those "annoying advertiser is annoying" situations. I don't really think I have a right to be advertised to in a way that insn't insulting and/or demeaning because I think the whole act of getting advertised to is inherently demeaning. Other people disagree, isn't diversity grand?

That said, if I were in a group of people who were concerned about stereotyping generally -- I'm thinking here about the good news/bad news spectre of big beer companies finally advertising their products to gay as well as straight couples over the last decade -- I might care more. The Mommy Bloggers are concerned that a big company is belittling their parenting choices and that's annoying to them. Don't agree? Quit reading their stuff. I've always found peoples' tendency to get annoyed at other people's annoyance a little odd especially on the internet. The internet is full of irritable people and overwrought declarations about why irritating things are problematic, but this all left me more thankful that 1. my back doesn't hurt 2. I'm not the Motrin company trying to sell ibuprofen to people who should be buying generics anyhow 3. I got nine hours of sleep last night.
posted by jessamyn at 6:58 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've always found peoples' tendency to get annoyed at other people's annoyance a little odd especially on the internet.

I'm annoyed at people's tendency to get annoyed at other people's annoyance.
posted by grouse at 7:14 AM on November 17, 2008


I think the makers of Motrin should start adding a little Valium to their formula. Problem solved.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:24 AM on November 17, 2008


I'm annoyed at people's tendency to get annoyed at other people's annoyance.

You're just pushin my buttons, mister!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:29 AM on November 17, 2008


For the sake of someone patient enough to read this far who may be interested in a comfortable carrier, I can recommend the ergo carrier. Way more comfortable for me than a sling. Non padded slings do have the advantage that they pack *really* small, and can be used as a small security/privacy blanket in a pinch.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:20 AM on November 17, 2008


TAXI New York just got Twitter and the blogosphere talking about a brand-name pain reliever that the average consumer wouldn't think twice about next to generics. I'd be quite interested to see the sales impact... I doubt any suggested boycott would offset the impact of the increased brand awareness.
posted by VulcanMike at 10:31 AM on November 17, 2008


I know it's hard to believe, but Twitter is used by almost no one.

Motrin will lose maybe 400-500 customers... or possibly less (and that's counting word-of- mouth outrage). One little "$1.00 off" coupon in next month's newspaper will more than make up for that.
posted by Zambrano at 10:33 AM on November 17, 2008


"She has a stroller, but there are many times when we'll be walking around somewhere and she'll beg for "Up! Pease!" So, what can you do? You up."

You can also say, No, you walk now like a big girl.

(This will help the girl grow up good and Midwest German. Remember, hugs are for special occasions, like Christmas!)
posted by klangklangston at 10:39 AM on November 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


If you're interested in babywearing in general, it's the subject of my first-ever FPP.

My husband (who was the champion baby-wearing dad back in our baby days) works in marketing for a major US pharmacy chain. He's at a trade show right now, but I can't wait to get his take on it.
posted by Biblio at 10:45 AM on November 17, 2008


I think the boycott risk is slight, but it's not the only possible fallout. I don't see Motrin as an evil company who's denigrating baby slings out of some nefarious financial link with the Rubber Baby Buggy Bumper company or something like that. But all these ads create an overall impression of the brand. While I won't refuse a proffered Motrin out of principle like I would a mink coat, when I have a choice of brands, I'll now associate the product with an ad I found needlessly patronizing. I'll probably retain the memory of the annoyance long after I've forgotten the actual campaign.

Which I think I'll commence doing right now.
posted by bibliowench at 11:17 AM on November 17, 2008


I know it's hard to believe, but Twitter is used by almost no one.

With word of mouth, it doesn't matter how many people use Twitter. It matters who uses Twitter.
posted by VulcanMike at 11:30 AM on November 17, 2008


Aren't ads supposed to mention what the product they're advertising actually does?

Sometimes. In pharma, there are two kinds of ads: "indicated ads" and "non-indicated ads". The former tells you what the pill does, the latter does not. If you make an indicated ad, you have to include "fair balance information" (which is to say, those long disclaimers about side effects). There are gray areas: remember that Levitra ad where the guy is throwing the football at the tire swing and he can't get it through and then he takes the pill (offscreen) and then he's back throwing it through the tire swing over and over while his wife caresses his arm and grins like a maniac? Yeah. Non-indicated ad for erectile dysfucntion drug. Really? Non-indicated? Yep. What? It's a tire swing! What kind of filthy mind do you have, anyway?
posted by The Bellman at 12:23 PM on November 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Babywearing sounds horrific. I mean, I know babies are the new rat terrier but they aren't "worn" anymore than I "wore" my school supplies on the train this morning. They are carried, damnit...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:24 PM on November 17, 2008


When wearing a baby, do you match it to shoes or handbag?
posted by thivaia at 12:58 PM on November 17, 2008


Shoes. The baby is your handbag.
posted by subbes at 2:17 PM on November 17, 2008


I was a babywearing momma back when my son was a newborn. Couldn't get anything done otherwise. Yeah, the crunchy, feel-good attachment stuff was on my mind, but it would have gotten dropped STAT if it hadn't been so damn useful. If I wanted to eat, drink, pee, clean, wash dishes, use the computer, talk on the phone. etc., I had to use the moby wrap. Without it, the kidlet immediately woke up and started screaming the minute he was put down. If the ad had focused on *that* aspect of babywearing, it'd be a hit. However, as someone stated upthread it's incredibly tone deaf and if I were closer in time to the experience, I would have been pissed too. At the moment, an eyeroll and muttering to myself, "whatta bunch of douchebags" is about all the outrage I can muster.
posted by echolalia67 at 2:32 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


When wearing a baby, do you match it to shoes or handbag?

Both. All three will be covered with spit-up milk, so it's an easy combination.
posted by bibliowench at 3:12 PM on November 17, 2008


You can also say, No, you walk now like a big girl.

(This will help the girl grow up good and Midwest German. Remember, hugs are for special occasions, like Christmas!)


I'm just the nanny. I cave, it makes my life easier. I'm saving character development for my own children. Myself, my parents are Midwest Swedish and Puritan/German. I only got hugs for Christmas if Santa was in a REALLY GOOD mood.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:16 PM on November 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


it doesn't matter how many people use Twitter. It matters who uses Twitter.

Makes no sense.
posted by Zambrano at 4:59 PM on November 17, 2008


There's an organization called Babywearing International. With a Board of Directors. I'm just kind of meditating on that.
posted by 3.2.3 at 7:43 PM on November 17, 2008


If a thing ever needed a batshitinsane tag...

Transcript of the text:
1 Wearing your baby seems to be in fashion.
2 I mean, in theory it’s a great idea.
3 There’s the front baby carrier, sling, schwing, wrap, pouch.
4 And who knows what else they’ve come up with.
5 Wear your baby on your side, your front, go hands free.
6 Supposedly, it’s a real bonding experience.
7 They say that babies carried close to the bod tend to cry less than others.
8 But what about me?
9 Do moms that wear their babies cry more than those who don’t?
10 I sure do!
11 These things put a ton of strain on your back, your neck, your shoulders.
12 Did I mention your back?!
13 I mean, I’ll put up with the pain because it’s a good kind of pain; it’s for my kid.
14 Plus, it totally makes me look like an official mom.
15 And so if I look tired and crazy (cuckoo sounds),
16 people will understand why.

This ad attempts to be the 'voice' of the prototypical mom. It is supposed to be somewhat familiar and relatable. After all, the compassionate tagline is "We feel your pain." So what went wrong?

Here's my take: We have the mom voice railing against the 'accessorizing' of babies, yet at the same would accept the idea if only it wasn't so uncomfortable. She passes judgement on both the fashionizing of mom culture, on those who provide it, as well as on the non-fashionable aspects of baby-wearing, such as practicality and socialization (baby bonding). The ad is completely mom-centric. At no point are the baby's needs addressed. In fact, the one benefit of baby wearing that is mentioned (worn babies cry less) is pitted against the mother's desire for comfort. The narrative suggests that she comes through as the altruist hero (line 13), but reluctantly so – there's still this nagging problem of pain (which can be solved by Motrin, the real hero of the story). So in the end, the mom buys into the image being promoted to her by the They, even though she believes that the whole thing is silly and overblown, and she isn't even sure if the benefits for the baby (less crying) are worth the pain she suffers, but she'll go along with it because it seems to be in fashion and it legitimizes her role as a mother. The punchline of course, is that if you don't resolve the underlying problem to this whole conundrum (the pain, amirite?) people will just assume YOU ARE TIRED AND CRAZY.

Additional thoughts:
Line 1 introduces the frame: This voice has an opinion about the fashionability of moms who wear their babies. We naturally assume that the voice is a mom herself, partly because we are conditioned to expect that voices passing judgement like this for advertising purposes have the authority to do so. If we don't deem the sources credible, we won't listen to what they have to say about the product they're selling us.

Line 2, in this next turn the narrator then passes judgement about wearing babies, regardless of their fashion implications. Saying that something is a great idea 'in theory' entails that the person feels that the reality of the proposition is the opposite of 'a great idea'. She then goes back to reinforcing the idea of 'wearing babies as fashion statements' by listing FIVE different words for the concept. This reinforces the assertion in line 1 that it 'seems to be in fashion' and is akin to the false premise of 'Eskimos have so many words for snow because snow is so important to their way of life!'

But line 4 reveals the real subtext, which I take to be "I'm above all this nonsense that the big 'They' is trying to sell me."

Line 5, 'go hands free' activates the BABIES ARE ACCESSORIES* metaphor framework.

Lines 4 & 7: Both instances of "They" refer to groups of people that the narrator is skeptical of.

Line 6, tone and discourse marker suggests that she clearly does not agree with the bonding function of baby wearing. So why exactly is she wearing this thing again? Oh yeah...

Line 11, "These things," Um, what things? The sling, or the contents of the sling? Hmmm? BABIES ARE HEAVY OBJECTS*

Lines 8-12 are completely mom-centric. Might be acceptable in another context. Here, it just comes across as a dilemma between feeling forced to wear the baby sling (so she will 'look the part') and the unbearable shoulder neck and back pain it causes. Did I mention the back pain? Either way, both sides of the dilemma involve her needs only (fashion or function?)

Line 13, what exactly is the point of this faux-altruism? The only way my head can construe sincerity of this statement is if its supposed to remind of childbirth. Oh God, that's not it, is it?

Line 16 is snarky and not meant to be taken literally.

And don't even get me started on the visuals...

*Not yelling. In conceptual metaphor descriptions you write the metaphor structure in caps, target domain on the left, source domain on the right.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:14 AM on November 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Someone ought to come up with something that, I don't know, uses wheels or something to take the strain off the mother's back and transfer it to a load-bearing surface.
posted by pracowity at 3:10 AM on November 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


it doesn't matter how many people use Twitter. It matters who uses Twitter.

Makes no sense.


Sure it makes sense. If an editor or reporter uses Twitter then he/she is more apt to run a story about Twitter rage.

Zambrano, I think I speak for alot of people here when I say that your glib, contrarian style of responding to people here really comes across as dickish and ignorant. Please consider at least fleshing out your responses and/or providing cites to support your positions rather than just pretending to be the almighty smartguy. Everyone sees through that act but you. Cheers.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:06 AM on November 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


Someone ought to come up with something that, I don't know, uses wheels or something to take the strain off the mother's back and transfer it to a load-bearing surface.

A stroller is worth fuck-all when it comes to the tasks like washing dishes or writing an e-mail. The point of wearing a baby in a sling is that your body warmth and movement relaxes the baby and, as a result, the baby goes to sleep (and stays asleep) without you having to hold it in both of your arms, rock it in a cradle or push it in a stroller. Seriously, the sling is indispensable if you need to have your hands free to multitask, but it is murder on your back.
posted by echolalia67 at 5:27 PM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


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