Archive for November 2008

Martyr Mom

November 29, 2008

Who’s getting the coal in her Christmas stocking this year?

 

You guessed it – Mom.

  

An article in this week’s New York Times stated that “for millions of mothers across the nation, this holiday season is turning into a time of sacrifice. Weathering the first severe economic downturn of their adult lives, these women are discovering that a practice they once indulged without thinking about it, shopping a bit for themselves at the holidays, has to give way to their children’s wish lists.”

According to a survey by the NPD Group, 61% of mothers said they would shop less for themselves this year, vs. 56% of all women — and 45% of men.

Analysts say the decline in what women will spend on themselves this holiday is among the most drastic ever. Yet the general economic crunch could still mean fewer gifts for kids – and lower sales for retailers of kids’ products. While sacrificing their own holiday wishes may help moms save toward a toy or two their child really wants, they are also cutting costs by swapping children’s clothing, toys, video games and books with other mothers, rather than buying new versions. In some scenarios, moms are buying DVDs and videogames in bulk from warehouse stores, then separating them to create multiple gifts – not a good sign for manufacturers in those categories. Retailers targeting the mom market are acknowledging that families’ total holiday budgets are shrinking. While the toy business has typically been less affected by economic crises than other industries, this Black Friday Toys “R” Us offered the deepest discounts in its history, with 50% more “doorbusters” – extraordinary deals — than last year.

The Motrin Mess

November 20, 2008

Beware the ticked-off mommy blogger.

 

If anyone actually still doubts the power of moms in general – or the mom blogger in particular – last weekend’s gale-force storm over a Motrin ad is the perfect example of how this online community can:

a) (to extend the weather analogy) leave marketers feeling thunderstruck, and

b) dramatically impact how businesses communicate with moms.

A summary: When McNeil Consumer Healthcare, maker of pain reliever Motrin (and a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson), posted an ad on the Motrin website about “baby wearing” — carrying a child in a baby carrier, such as a sling or a wrap – a number of moms reacted negatively to the ad. The ad’s intent was to encourage moms to use Motrin to alleviate the sore muscles that could result from wearing a child all day. Moms, however, were offended by the ad’s implication that they wear their babies to be “fashionable” and by the voiceover saying that “in theory” carrying your baby around in this way is a good idea and that “supposedly” it’s a real bonding experience.

The moms blogged and twittered their thoughts, which of course were read by other moms, many of whom also reacted negatively to the ad. They published THEIR comments. To quote The New York Times’ Lisa Belkin, who summed it all up well in her Motherlode blog:

“By Saturday evening (the ad was) the most tweeted subject on Twitter. By Sunday there was a nine minute video on YouTube, to the tune of Danny Boy, showing screen shots of the outraged twitter posts interspersed with photos of Moms carrying babies in slings.

Bloggers began calling for boycotts. Bloggers asked their readers to alert the mainstream press. A few voices chimed in to say they didn’t find the ad to be that big a deal. There are a few more examples here and here.)

By Sunday afternoon a few bloggers and tweeters had gotten the ad agency that created the ad on the phone, to find they didn’t know a lot about Twitter and didn’t seem to have a clue that there was so much anger piling up online.”

Belkin goes on to identify mom bloggers—correctly — as “one of the most vocal, quickest-to-blog, ‘strongest-to-band-together-and-form-one-opinion-like-the-Borg’ collectives out there.”

The resolution: McNeil pulled the ad from its Web site, and their vp of marketing publicly apologized to the mom bloggers, both on the Motrin site and via direct emails—a response, we feel, that was appropriate.

 

Blogging is all about conversation, and sometimes conversation escalates to confrontation – a whisper becomes a shout. The lesson here: Companies need to listen, as soon as mom bloggers begin to speak. In this online world, even the smallest delay in response can make a difference. The Motrin controversy began on a weekend. By Monday, the ad was pulled from the site—for the speed of that response, McNeil should be commended.

 

Of course, the whole experience raises this question: Where should the line be drawn? At what point must a company react in a major way to criticism, vs. simply accepting that not everyone is going to like everything it does? How many moms felt the ad was innocuous, but didn’t publicly argue on behalf of Big Pharma? And how many – could it be? — identified with sore muscles from wearing their babies? Were moms who opposed the ad truly greater in number (as it certainly seemed) – or simply more vocal?

 

Some observers suggested that McNeil should have run the ad past moms themselves before it was launched. That goes without saying. But we don’t know what kind of mom testing McNeil did or did not do before introducing the ad.  Not all moms or even mom bloggers will react the same way to a product concept, ad copy or the messaging in a PR campaign—even with the up-front input of one group of moms, fiascos can still occur.

 

All that having been said – here’s to the moms who made their voices known, and to the marketer who paid attention. More power to you both. And may all marketers keep the Motrin experience in mind – and a very large bottle of same in hand — so they don’t have their own headache in the future.

Child’s Play Bloggers Brunch Video

November 17, 2008

Bloggers Brunch Photos

November 12, 2008
Listening to the welcome.

Listening to the welcome.

Danielle from Celebrity Baby Blog (left) and Kim of Jogging in Circles

Danielle from Celebrity Baby Blog (left) and Lyss from Divalysscious

 

Sarah Fraser, Childs Play Digital Media Manager (left) and Kim of Jogging in Circles.

Sarah Fraser, Childs Play Digital Media Manager (left), and Kim of Jogging in Circles.

Liz of This Full House (left) and Victoria of Savvy Mommy.

Liz of This Full House (left) and Victoria of Savvy Mommy.

Sarah of Genesis Moments enjoys a beauty treatment from Clarins.

Sarah of Genesis Moments enjoys a beauty treatment from Clarins.

Candace from Mamanista and her beautiful baby, Marc.

Candace from Mamanista and her beautiful baby, Marc.

Bloggers Brunch Blast

November 11, 2008

Today marked the launch of the very first Child’s Play Communications Bloggers Brunch, an exciting, invitation-only special event exclusively for mom-focused online media.  Held at the elegant Williams Club, just off Madison Ave in New York City, the gathering was designed to thank our favorite mommy bloggers for working with Child’s Play over the years and to introduce them to our clients’ hottest holiday products. The program featured a tasty brunch (complete with pitchers of mimosas), makeup and skin treatments from Clarins (www.clarins.com), a  movie preview, a chance to experience product demonstrations and chat 1:1 with exhibitors, and an array of raffle prizes from those exhibitors that included a handmade jewelry box courtesy of Stained Glass NYC (www.stainedglassnyc.com), a treat-filled baby basket from Petite Palate (www.petitepalate.com) and an incredible combination hotel, theme park admission (Disney World, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld), and dinner package from the Orlando/Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau (www.orlandocvb.com) valued at approximately $2,000! Other exhibitors of toys, books and family entertainment included major companies such as Disney Publishing (www.disney.com), Elmer’s Products (www.elmers.com), JAKKS-Pacific (www.jakks.net), DK Publishing (www.dk.com), Genius Products (www.geniusproducts.com) and Fathom Studios (launching its holiday movie, Delgo, www.delgo.com). Two dozen mommy bloggers, including representatives from leading blogs such as People.com’s Celebrity Baby Blog, Glamour.com’s Storked! and Parents.com’s Goody Blog, attended. We were so pleased to meet the bloggers in person, introduce them to our exhibitors, and create an opportunity for our guests to meet each other, take a break and just have fun. We can’t wait until next year’s get-together!

We love moms

November 4, 2008

We love moms.

 

We are moms, we work and play with moms, and for two decades we’ve helped companies market to moms. In fact, Child’s Play Communications was the first agency to specialize in publicity and marketing communications for products and services targeted to this incredibly powerful and influential market.  Since then, we’ve connected our clients with moms through traditional public relations, special events, cause marketing and product sampling.  More recently, we’ve established expertise in the digital world, empowering companies to engage and interact with moms via social media, especially the mommy blogger community.

 

As mother of Evan and founder and president of Child’s Play, I’m delighted to officially join that community with the launch of this blog, Mom Market Trends, an ongoing look at the social and marketing developments that impact today’s moms. I’ll share studies, articles of note, feedback from the Child’s Play Communications network of moms, and more.

 

At Child’s Play, we’ve been marketing to moms for 20 years, but there is always something new to learn. As I learn it, I’ll share it. And I hope you’ll share your thoughts in return.