This is why I buy generic ibuprofen

No, not really.  But the recent Motrin experience is a great illustration of the power of social media.  In case you haven’t heard, Motrin started running this ad on their Web site on Friday:

By Saturday morning, I started getting Tweets about the uproar it was creating on mommy blogs and in social networking sites, primarily among moms who found the ad offensive (which I think it pretty much is).  I’m not sure when J&J, the makers of Motrin, began to realize what was going on, but by Monday they had pulled the ad.  The power of social media.

The timing of this was interesting to me, as I’ve been at the American Marketing Association Symposium of Higher Education here in Chicago since Sunday (it ends tomorrow.)  At least half of the presentations are about social media, and its potential use in higher education.  There’s an absolute frenzy around social media in higher ed right now, with colleges and universities (full disclosure: including DePaul, with our social community for parents) scrambling to participate, using Facebook, Twitter, proprietary social communities, student blogs (which we’re also starting at DePaul),  Flickr, and every other thing out there.  As my colleague Jon says, all without a shred of evidence that it’s doing anything to help us attract more students or students of higher caliber, which is what we’re all trying to do, whether we admit it or not. 

Good to have examples like Motrin to keep us humble, make us cautious, and not rush to participate in the latest marketing phenomenon just because it feels like everyone else is, because if you screw up, it can get amplified really fast (I guess that’s true not only of new tactics, but established ones as well).  It’s also a good reminder not to insult our target audience in our advertising. Finally, it highlights the need to make sure we have people checking blogs and Twitter over the weekend to make sure we find out if people are out there talking about us, so we can respond quickly.

If you’d like to read the full Chicago Tribune article about the Motrin example, here it is:http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-talk-motrinnov18,0,1054732.htmlstory

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