Sunday, November 23, 2008

Twitter may really be for the birds

I was probably knee-deep in laundry or inspecting the insides of my eyelids last weekend when the social-networking site known as Twitter exploded into a frenzy of “tweets” decrying a new ad by Johnson & Johnson for its pain reliever, Motrin.

The hubbub was over the script in which a “hip” mom was complaining (in a chatty, conversational way) about the aches and pains associated with babywearing.

The transcript is as follows:

“Wearing your baby seems to be in fashion. I mean, in theory it’s a great idea. There’s the front baby carrier, sling, schwing, wrap, pouch. And who knows what else they’ve come up with. Wear your baby on your side, your front, go hands free. Supposedly [insert air quotes here] it’s a real bonding experience. They say that babies carried close to the body tend to cry less than others. But what about me? Do moms that wear their babies cry more than those who don’t? I sure do! These things put a ton of strain on your back, your neck, your shoulders. Did I mention your back? I mean, I’ll put up with the pain because it’s a good kind of pain; it’s for my kid. Plus, it totally makes me look like an official mom. And so if I look tired and crazy, people will understand why.”

The self-dubbed #Motrinmoms were reacting mostly to the tone of the piece, which was sort of valley-girl meets Dr. Sears devotee. (If you have access to the internets you might want to peruse Youtube for “Controversial Motrin Moms Commericial” to get the full experience.)

What they were ranting against was the perception that the makers of Motrin were calling attachment parenting admirers fad-chasing, whiners more interested in appearances than in mothering.

As a babywearing mother myself, I have to admit I was a little intrigued by the responses. Here are some of them. …

BethBader: Wearing the kid was as much as fashion statement as dark circles eyes, c-section scar and spit up. I was a GODDESS, I tell you.

JenKaneCo: if Motrin was smart they'd release a new spot where mommies are popping Motrin to deal with the strain of their corp. pandering

samrolken: #motrinmoms are missing the point. The big deal is: it makes #babywearing seem "too hard," it discourages future moms with misinformation.

Even after the company apologized and pulled the ad, the viral Twittering persisted; hundreds of posts continued to log criticism of both the company’s response and the media-crushing outcry of parents.

I suppose it was just too difficult to slow that train down once it had left the station.

The posts then turned to bask in the power of the Tweet -- a 140-character line of text you can upload from the internet or your wireless phone.

I’m not even sure why this has fascinated me so, to tell you the truth. I know there are more important things to rant about than what some company, whose goal is to sell me its $8 product that I can buy generically $4, says about parenting (as if anyone really has the corner on that market anyway).

I know there are more poorly executed ads. Remember the Snickers commercial that aired during the Super Bowl, which showed two men accidentally kissing while eating from opposite ends of a Snickers bar?

I could drone on for days about how much is marketed to children; how the cartoon packaging is always placed at kids’ eye level at the grocery store, making that much harder to get through the store without being THAT person who can’t control their kids’ outbursts. And how the “Iwant-Iwant-Iwants” that come as a direct result of this type of marketing, eventually wears away the resolve of even the most disciplined of parents.

But I won’t. I know when I say black someone else says white.

I’ll just say: Twitter might really be the best research tool for marketers yet. Or it may just be for the birds.

1 comment:

jasi said...

I am basically an AP-reject. I babywear and ache incredibly. I co-sleep and basically don't-sleep. And I nursed with La Leche, but never got over engorgement (2 solid years). And through all of that nonsense, never have I felt en vogue. Nor have I desired for Motrin. Just kids that sleep, eat and travel safely and happily.