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Motrin campaign shows need for informed targeting

When it comes to properly targeting your marketing mes­sage, understanding your audience — what it wants to know, how it wants to hear what it wants to know — is essential. So the first word that comes to mind when I think of the Motrin/Twitter mayhem of last week is “oy” — the traditional Yiddish term of dismay.

You don’t need to be a mom to get what was wrong with Johnson & Johnson’s video campaign for Motrin, featured on their Web site, which tried to connect the back pain many women feel when using baby slings, or other “baby-wearing” items, with the pain relief of Motrin. A vocal group of Twitter­ing mom bloggers found the video condescending — and even I, with no kids, could see why right away. The video pointed out that carrying your baby seems to be “in fashion,” is a good idea “in theory” and was “supposedly” a bonding experience that “totally makes me look like an official mom.”

Oy (with a hand to my forehead).

Sure, non-moms like me can get the joke and giggle a bit when we see mothers wearing their babies like the latest Prada bag, but I’m not the target audience for this campaign. And with a sister currently toting an adorable two-month-old around her house in a baby sling, I feel comfortable saying that she probably doesn’t care one bit about looking fashion­able, or like an “official” mom. But she might appreciate a dose of compassion and empathy about the inevitable back pain; some pain-reducing baby-wearing tips; a few stories from other moms in the same boat; and hey, maybe a promotional offer from Motrin.

Do marketers need to develop more understanding of their target audience? Does proper targeting require more pre-plan­ning and research to determine the right tone? As an “official” editor, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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