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Response to McNeil Consumer Healthcare concerning Motrin ad

Babywearing International sent the following response concerning the Motrin mom-alogue campaign to McNeil Consumer Healthcare on November 17, 2008:
Kathy Widmer
VP of Marketing - Pain, Pediatrics, GI, Specialty
McNeil Consumer Healthcare

Dear Ms. Widmer:
I am Susie Spence, president of Babywearing International, Inc., a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote babywearing, with benefits for both child and caregiver, through education and support. I write to you on behalf of the Babywearing International Board of Directors concerning the mom-alogue advertising campaign for Motrin, which purports to be from the point of view of a babywearing mother.

We are deeply troubled by this campaign for the following reasons:

- It disparages babywearing mothers by portraying them as victims of a painful fashion trend;

- It falsely states that baby carriers "put a ton of strain" on the wearer's back, neck, and shoulders;

- It falsely implies that mothers who wear their babies "cry more" than those who don't;

- It portrays the research-proven benefits of babywearing as rumor or speculation subject to doubt;

- It disparagingly implies that babywearing mothers look "tired and crazy;" and

- It was timed to run during International Babywearing Week, November 12-18, 2008, when nonprofit babywearing groups all over the world are celebrating babywearing, and thousands of volunteers are working to publicize the benefits of babywearing and to encourage the practice of babywearing.

Just as we are working to create community support for this beneficial practice so that no parent will ever again be harassed or ridiculed for babywearing, McNeil is perpetuating an image of babywearing parents as silly people who make irrational choices to be in fashion. Your "mom-alogue" could hardly be more ill-timed, off-base, or damaging to babywearing parents or to parents who have yet to reap the benefits of babywearing.

While we do sincerely appreciate that McNeil Consumer Healthcare is not so crass a corporate citizen as to continue showing the mom-alogue on the Motrin website in the face of the uproar it created on social networking sites and through email, merely discontiuing the campaign is no step toward repairing the damage it has caused and continues to cause.

Babywearing International, Inc., calls upon McNeil Consumer Healthcare to counter the effects of this offensive ad campaign in the following ways:

- Completely discontinue the campaign by not allowing any further publication of it in any media;

- Undertake an equally prominent campaign that portrays babywearing mothers as the savvy parents and consumers they actually are;

- Undertake an equally prominent campaign that explains the proven benefits of babywearing and directly counters the portrayal of babywearing as painful or as a practice that makes babywearing mothers cry;

- Undertake a campaign to educate healthcare providers as well as patients about the research-proven benefits of babywearing. In fact, babywearing makes mothers more confident and results in fewer tears for both mothers and children.

Recognizing that Motrin is a brand that has heretofore been mother-friendly as well as child-friendly, Babywearing International would consider assisting Motrin in partially repairing the recent damage to its image by having Motrin's collaboration in our Medical Outreach Campaign, through which we provide research-based information to medical doctors, counselors, and parents concerning the health benefits of babywearing.

Most sincerely yours,

Susie Spence
Babywearing International, Inc.

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