This past week, Johnson and Johnson's McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit pulled an ad campaign for Motrin pain reliever after an arguably snarky ad aimed at easing the pain of baby sling-wearing moms instead raised the ire of some in the "MomBlogging" community online... and sparked a vocal boycott movement. After writing personal apologies to bloggers who had publicly complained about the campaign, Motrin temporarily took down Motrin.com, inserted a public apology and, starting last Sunday, began pulling the ads from online and print circulation.
Much has been written about the spike in Twitter traffic last weekend, and in related blog posts, including this Twitter chart from Tweetstats and this blog chart from Blogpulse. As the controversy spilled into the mainstream media, we here at Visible Measures couldn't resist looking in to the viral video impact of the original ad, and the outraged video responses, and the inevitable responses to the responses.
A Response to the Motrin Ad
What did we find? Well, the offending ad (included above for completeness sake, please watch at your risk, caveat emptor, you know the rest) was uploaded to YouTube just over a week ago and the video responses from mom video bloggers appeared almost immediately. By the time the dust settled, fewer than ten copies of the original ad appeared, though these led to 13 video responses.
The entire campaign drove around 400,000 views in litte more than a week's time. However, more than 25% of those views were from the video responses to the campaign.
The comment traffic appears to be mixed, with around half of the comments expressing positive-to-neutral views and the rest expressing more pointedly negative views. The comment threads are worth a gander, as a good percentage of the audience checked out the video to see what all the fuss was about... and wound up being more confused, or bemused, than offended.
The suspended Motrin campaign may very well be remembered as the first ad campaign to be felled by the Twitter-sphere. This serves as another reminder that today an adequately, ahem, motivated constituency can harness multiple social media to have a big impact without any central coordination, budget, or ulterior motive. For the record, J&J's relatively quick response and direct, authentic outreach should also serve as a case study in effective social media crisis-communications.
Lastly, we would be remiss if we failed to point out the inherent irony of the situation, as many brand advertisers are working overtime to generate real viral video interest in their campaigns. It seems like it's safe to assume, with the recent Motrin campaign, J&J was the on the receiving end of a social media reaction that was both unexpected and undesirable. Live and learn: your audience has always been paying attention... but today they have an array of response mechanisms to let you know their delight -- or their displeasure! -- at your message. Buyer beware indeed.
Author’s note: Parul Singh, a senior product manager at Visible Measures, admits that she has a slight headache after reviewing all the comments and response videos cited in this post. She's looking forward to researching her next post about viral video stars.
The data used in this post was collected from Visible Measure's Viral Reach Database, a constantly growing video repository of analytic data on 100+ million Internet videos from 150+ video-sharing destinations.