J&J apologizes, says it missed the mark with Motrin mom ad

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ: Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is reaching out to mothers offended by an ad for the company's Ibuprofen brand, Motrin, which equated carrying a baby in a sling to a painful fashion choice.

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ: Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is reaching out to mothers offended by an ad for the company's Ibuprofen brand, Motrin, which equated carrying a baby in a sling to a painful fashion choice.

The ad appeared online with commentary that included a bit of tongue in cheek: “Wearing your baby seems to be in fashion… Do moms that wear their babies cry more than those who don't? I sure do.”

The company pulled the ad Sunday after several bloggers called for a boycott and pages of angry comments filled message boards like Twitter. Some Twitter and blog enthusiasts created their own counter ads. Today, the word “Motrin” and the “motrinmoms” hash tag, which Twitter users attach to a topic to keep track of it, are still the number one and number two trend topics on the microblogging site (Christmas and Obama follow).

The company is handling outreach to key media and bloggers internally and began sending statements of apology to key media and bloggers on November 16, according to Marc Boston, director communications for McNeil Consumer Healthcare division of J&J.

“From a media perspective, we felt it was important to respond,” Boston told PRWeek.

Reading from a statement, Boston said the company took “immediate action” in the response and removal of the ad, but that some ads will continue to appear in magazines currently on newsstands and in distribution.

In a letter of apology, that appeared on the Motrin Web site Monday, November 17, as well as in media like The New York Times' MotherLode Blog, Kathy Widmer, VP of marketing at McNeil Consumer Healthcare, introduced herself as a mother of three and wrote that the ads were intended to show “genuine sympathy and appreciation for all that parents do for their babies.”

An extended version of the apology was also posted to the company blog, JNJ BTW. Widmer wrote, “One bright spot is that we have learned through this process - in particular, the importance of paying close attention to the conversations that are taking place online.”

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