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The twitosph… twite… twee… bah— the twits have been in an uproar over a new ad from Johnson and Johnson’s ‘McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit‘ (thanks Forbes). In what is perhaps the funniest example of not understanding your market since New Coke, JnJ has released a web based advertising campaign targeted at tech savvy moms that proceeds to belittle them from all angles.

At first glance —and I’m sure to anyone reading the copy— the ad seems harmless: a young mother states that its fashionable to carry your baby strapped to your chest, complains that it hurts your back, and suggests Motrin (Ibuprofen) as a solution. What’s the problem there?

Well, as everyone and their grandmothers blog has pointed out: once you put a couple of jabs about parents being in it for the image together with a sarcastic and condescending tone it starts to seem less like a call to buy pain relief and more like a tie in to this George Carlin sketch:


But that’s the least of it. If this had been a TV ad people might have frowned and forgotten about it, or perhaps even chuckled, but instead they placed it right into an opinionated group in a community based around conversation. There is no passive viewership here, everyone who clicks on this is going to be an active viewer. Meaning that if you insult them they’re not just going to notice, they’re going to talk about it.

So you’ve insulted people in an active medium, cool, what else can you do wrong? Well, people hate the intrusion of obvious marketing efforts in to their communities, meaning that whoever is introducing this better do so with extreme tact. Instead JnJ introduced it with MotrinMoms wonderful tweeting:

Motrinmoms tweeted:
“@PinkOliveFamily I’m just a mom who loves her Motrin! ;)””Hey, I didn’t realize that Motrin is also a fun toy for kids! (Please, only with parental supervision) ;)”

“Hey nice pic, @kellyatcare, I see you use the freehand technique as well. 😉 Make sure to pack some Motrin in the purse!”

“Sorry you don’t like our commercial, @pitchengine, but let’s get “viral”!!! LOL! Shoot your own on YouTube and let us see it. :)”

This person is a complete twit—in the non-endearing, pre-twitter sense of the word. She says she isn’t a marketer, starts throwing about horrible marketing pitches, and then packs it all together with JeffK quality sentences. You know, just to add to the already condescending tone of the campaign.

So JnJ ended up with a piece of content stewing amidst a community of opinionated people being seasoned with unintentionally condescending commentary by some “mom who loves her Motrin! ;)”. How could they not expect that it would get devoured by angry by insulted mothers?

I could try to end this with some kind of lesson about what not to do, but instead I’m just going to say don’t do what you see here: