November 16, 2008

Brand Reputation Management Is Not a Monday-Friday Gig

The concept of a workweek starting at 8 a.m. on Monday and concluding at 5 p.m. the following Friday is cute, but not all that realistic in most cases. Whether you're in sales or engineering, marketing or technical support, there seem to always be tasks that need your attention outside of the listed business week in the company handbook. With the rise of the Web and realtime response and discussion across social networks, managing a brand's reputation is absolutely a 24 by 7 operation. Sometimes, as a groundswell takes on your company, or your products, waiting until Monday to react is simply not an option, for the damage will already have been done.

Today's victim is the pain reliever Motrin, who posted a condescending ad that had many parents seeing red. The ad, posted on their main Web site, essentially stated that carrying one's baby in a sling or backpack would cause undue pain, requiring their product. While delivering a need and solution makes sense, they unnecessarily mocked babywearing as being in fashion, and making you appear like a real mom. The condescending ad ignored the reality of needing to go "hands-free" simply to function, fashion be darned. As a father of twins, I may not be a mom, but I often carry one of the kids around in a sling or a baby carrier, whether to do dishes, or just to type without having to go one-handed. And Motrin's ad was misguided. After my wife viewed it, she said she was surprised the ad got through a series of reviews and passed.

(See the video archived on YouTube)

While not incensed as many mothers said they were, and in a household that didn't have Motrin in the medicine cabinet anyway, we discovered the ad through the power of Twitter, which was ablaze with mommybloggers slamming the campaign. (See: #motrinmoms)

On a weekend not dominated by major news, Motrin's brand got stomped on, and waiting around until Monday to pick up the pieces would be too late. After almost a day of getting dissed, the Web site finally went down tonight, either through exceeded demand, or by way of the company's intervention.

When I talk to brand managers about social media, I recommend three clear steps:
  1. Understand
  2. Observe
  3. Act
They need to understand that your brand is at the mercy of its constituents. And you need to be using monitoring tools to rapidly discover and act upon how it is being used or mentioned - no matter what day it is.

Some basics to get started:These alerts will be automatically sent to you around the clock, even if the doors to your office are closed and the lights are off. Be aware of these services, monitor what is being said, and after all this, act. Don't just react, but do so thoughtfully.

And if you were curious to see just how I look wearing a baby carrier, check out the photo on FriendFeed.

See also:
Marketing Mystic: In Motrin moms debacle, the winner is Twitter
The Standard: Motrin learns there's a downside to viral advertising