In My Hood: Fires, Motrin, Moms

As the smoke clears in my neighborhood and the Southern California wildfires subside, smoke is clearing from my online neighborhood as well.

Over the weekend mombloggers and twittermoms became upset over a Motrin commercial, voiced their displeasure, and by Sunday the company had issued an apology and pulled the ad.

Yet the controversy continues.

Let’s not go down the path of *if* my fellow moms had something to be upset about. Different things are important to different people, and whether or not babywearing is your thing is irrelevant.

What is relevant to all of us is how the game has changed. I realize you may be shocked by this, but there was a time it was necessary to educate companies and other bloggers on just how influential the moms online are…AND THAT TIME HAS PASSED.

They KNOW.

They are buying ads, they are engaging women online. They are sponsoring trips, sending you even MORE free stuff. They are paying for YOU to consult for them. They are slowly but surely working the new world order into their business plans.

You have their attention.

You have the power.

It’s been proven now in case studies and marketing reports. It’s been proven with the President-elect answering your questions. It’s been proven with your growing checks and empowerment.

It’s time to change how you conduct business.

It’s no longer us screaming to be recognized. I no longer need to lift my shirt to demand breastfeeding gets respect. I no longer need to stomp my feet and be as snarky as possible when a company obviously has no clue how to engage mommybloggers.

You have their ear.

You are now fully-recognized, influential businesswomen.

Time to act like it.

Companies will continue to have no choice but to engage mommybloggers. They are not going anywhere. We are here and they have to deal with us.

However I would prefer we maximize our relationships and they deal with us as BUSINESSWOMEN, not as a protesting, activist group of divas.

Yes, you are a businesswoman. You are a professional. Please don’t make me go over this again.

The problem with what happened this weekend is the perception. Mommybloggers got mad, mommybloggers acted. Mommybloggers over-reacted. Mommybloggers looked like amateurs.

Right or wrong, the rest of the web is now rolling its eyes, again at our community. Words like ‘mob’ and ‘rookies’ and ‘divas’ are flying around and we’re not being taken seriously.

I’ll be honest, they are right. What happened this weekend went from smart, powerful activism to Palin-rally lynch-mob.

I expect better from professionals. It’s time we start holding each other to higher standards.

Please don’t ever make me compare you to Sarah Palin again, it hurts.


  1. Queen of Spain says:

    What’s wrong with expecting everyone be held to a higher standard? Be a better blogger. Be a better person. Use your powers for good, not evil!

    I’m fine with that if that is condescending.

  2. What’s wrong with expecting everyone be held to a higher standard? Be a better blogger. Be a better person. Use your powers for good, not evil!

    Not to mention that loud, obnoxious, unprofessional bloggers from any stripe, in any industry, male or female who have the good fortune of being noticed, can hurt the reputation and power of the blogosphere as a whole.

    You want power? Take advantage of the chances you have, and use it wisely. You never know who, or what enemy might be your ally down the road.

    Be the change you want to see.

    And kudos to you, Erin, for writing about this topic in a very professional and efficient way. The Mommymafia is alive and well I see. 😉

  3. Why is it I write a long post on this topic, but you always seem to word things better than I can? I saw those first Twitters come through, and just *knew* it would be a shit storm. Sure enough I saw calls for boycotts. Big pharma (just like big banks and big government) are a necessary ‘evil’ but we love to hate them. Unless they are giving us free trips or swag. Unless it doesn’t meet our very exacting protocol for what we are entitled to. Hell, I still like Motrin, it’s the only thing that’s keeping my daughters fever down from her strep throat. My kids come before *everything*, even some stupid thoughtless ad run.

  4. <———nominates himself for “Luca Brazzi to the Mommymafia”. Slightly stupid, rhinoceros, unsophisticated weapon that can kind of be pointed but never fired with accuracy.

    But I want to know who the Don is.

  5. Queen of Spain says:

    Kiss the ring.


    ok ok, seriously though….that just proves my point. *they* actually have a NAME for us.


    See what I mean about perceptions?

    Not cool, but there.

  6. Agree. I saw & read Peter Shankman’s post first and left a comment there, and then followed the Twitterstream to this spot-on post. Nice job, Erin. As the founder of an organization that supports & advises mom business owners, many of whom are mom bloggers, I work hard to help them maintain a professional image. I support my fellow mom bloggers and Twitter moms: I admire their passion and their convictions and, personally, as a mom who wore both babies, agree with some of their arguments against the ads. Yet as a business woman who has to fight the masses every day to take mom business owners and mom bloggers more seriously for the incredible force that we truly are, I fear that the collective actions of the loudest will/have backfired, and put mom bloggers back at square one. Social media is a powerful platform. Choose your battles & your strategy wisely. Thanks for this post, Erin.

  7. I wish I was in front of you right because I would give you a big hug! 🙂 Thank you!

  8. Donna Erin:

    When I grow up? I totally want to be you! (if you’re done by then, that is…otherwise? I’ll just do wardrobe!) 🙂

    You rock.

  9. Excellent post – you are very brave! I mentioned in a blog response to someone yesterday about watching out for backlast from the MommyMafia! Then I wondered if they’d get me! I decided to do a piece on it as well from the standpoint that J&J has a great reputation and while I see the reason for being upset or insulted, we need to realize mistakes can be made and not everything is a conspiracy or intended “put down.”
    You really hit the nail on the head with this one! Kudos!!!

  10. I agree with the person who said I hit the nail on the head. Personally.

    Unprofessional Acting Professional Mommy Blogger Who Buys Target Brand Ibuprofen

  11. Kudos to you for having the balls to write this. You are absolutely, 100%, right! It didn’t even offend me in the first place, but that women continued to scream about it was bothering me, too. I hope this entire issue is put to bed, and soon!

  12. I remain mixed about the whole thing. I totally understand how moms could be offended and turned off by it. I didn’t have an overwhelming emotional reaction to it, but I understood. I blogged about it from a PR perspective. I just didn’t think the ad was in good taste. I agree to move on, but it does make for a good class discussion. Maybe the teacher side of me can’t escape that aspect!

  13. Couldn’t agree more! I’m kissing the ring baby! 🙂

  14. realestatechick says:

    Kudos Erin. This is why you ARE the Queen! (although Aaron is close on your heels for title of King – his comments were spot on as well!)

    Oh and just for the record: I am a mom, I did not wear my kids (I was afraid that they’d slip out of that sling-thingy and go crashing to the floor), I use ibuprofen but am not brand loyal and I personally know Kathy Widmer. She is not some evil corporate entity setting out every morning to insult the mommysphere. She is a brilliant woman, a loving, caring mom of three and represents her company with the highest integrity. My hallucination is that she and her company did the right thing plus some and now it is beyond time to “put the baby to bed”.

  15. Can’t we use our collective connections to help people in need?

    Please join me in spreading the word about organizations and products that are bringing clean, safe water to those that have none… and keep the drinking water safe for those of us that take the faucet for granted:

    Offensive ads aren’t as offensive as children living with sickness and death.

  16. Kudos Erin. This is why you ARE the Queen! (although Aaron is close on your heels for title of King – his comments were spot on as well!)

    HA! 🙂

  17. I respectfully disagree and worry that maybe you’ve missed the point.

    The horse is dead, the site has apologized but we’re being called names as a final misogynistic act. Sit down, shut up and look pretty.

    Sorry, not me.

  18. Queen of Spain says:

    Jessica – Who’s telling you to sit down, shut up and look pretty? Are there links to that?

    I’m asking those involved to be responsible with their power. Does questioning how power is used fall into sexism because women are involved? HUH?

    I’ll need you to further explain that please.

  19. Whoa! “…a final misogynistic act.”

    Huh? Jessica I am very interested in where that came from. I have been following this very closely, and yes there has been some real disingenuous name calling and such, but I haven’t seen this. I know my alerts and RSS reader is still smoking from the use. I would be very interested in a link to that behavior.

  20. Well, Jim, you must not have been following too closely – while I agree with Erin that there’s a point at which the tirade needs to end – it doesn’t take too long to find the misogyny:
    you’ll have to unbury some of the more foul ones

    Gee, digg is full of misogynistic comments about the moms. Big surprise.

    It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to know that these same lovely people are going through and posting hateful comments on the blogs that posted about it.
    That said – I think (hope?) that Jessica didn’t mean Erin’s post. Which was not in the same vein at all.

  21. Lucretia and Jim, I’ll help you parse the digg comments. Here’s my personal favorite:

    “If you are offended by this ad, you should stop breeding. We can probably do without your “contribution” to the gene pool. Beyond that, if you’re one of these bitches involved in the whine campaign, you should go right ahead and kill yourself for the sake of your child(ren). They’ll be better for it.”

  22. Um, gee, thanks Mom-101 – didn’t exactly need your help parsing it. I pretty much dug up the link all on my own.
    But thanks, I guess, for coming to my assistance.

    I give Jim more credit than that, I think he can pretty much dredge through that dreck on digg if he wants to – I don’t feel the need to give it a second airing.

  23. First order of business is to discount Digg immediately.

    Second order of business is to recognize that Digg commenters do that to everyone, without fail, myself included. Digg commenters do not represent any kind of real life demographic or group around and the sooner you come to grips with it, the sooner you’ll stop taking offense by it.

    Seriously, the Digg culture is notoriously trollish. Just Google “Digg Brigade”

  24. Aaron:

    And this stops misogynistic Diggers from visiting their sites and posting harassing commentary exactly how?
    Oh yes, it doesn’t.
    Seriously. I’d lay odds on the fact that I’ve had a Digg account under a different name than this longer than you have and as a woman? I learned pretty quickly that unless I used a masculine presence on Digg I was shouted into oblivion.

    My point was that it’s not terribly hard to find the stupid, harassing, misogynistic commentary – no, I’m not going to go find more for you – you have Google, use it. Suggested keywords “mommyblogger” “motrin” “stupid”.


  25. I guess I need to read this Digg thing. Sorry I don’t have much use for Digg and I guess that is why I missed the crazies. Their is always lunatic fringe and I guess I don’t give them much credence which is why I must have missed that part of it. I have been reading mostly the blogs and other information and opinion. I was just very concerned that someone had made a personal attack on Jessica that would have been something that I would very much be interested in as I think that those types of personal attacks can get out of control, i.e. Kathy Sierra.

  26. A very good point Jim – and I really hope not.
    That insanity with Kathy was beyond bizarre. Those guys needed help. Serious help.

  27. Queen of Spain says:

    The Digg kids can #suckit, seriously.

    I’m so used to them being assholes over there I don’t even count them anymore.

    However I’m not sure how that applies to what I wrote. I certainly expect all of us to be vocal about things, regardless of what anyone says.

    I just keep going back to …doing it responsibly.

    That’s allllll I’m saying here people. Use your power wisely.

    That’s it.

    Took me a lot more paragraphs up there, maybe I should have stuck to 140 characters.

  28. I have two children and found this ad to be amusing, but I didn’t use a sling. So, maybe I don’t have a reason to be offended. I don’t feel that the ad was trying to offend anyone, but you can’t make everyone happy. Those that were offended need to look inside themselves to know the real reason why they were offended.

    We should use our power to make a difference for things that really matter 🙂

  29. Okay a few quick points since I mostly agree with the Queen and when I don’t I figure it’s just a matter of time before she figures it out (removing tongue from cheek)

    1. I jumped on you becuase I have an inbox loaded with vile contemptuous emails calling me everything from a wh0re to a c__t. I’m prickly and I’ll admit it. I expected a little sisterhood and I see I’m not getting it.

    2. I may have lit the fire, but I won’t take credit for fanning the flames. I’ll let Katja and her video do that. She did a remarkable job making the video and then sending out press queries.

    3. I won’t be apologizing for defending motherhood. Ever. The first year with each of my children was the only time in my life that I felt intensely vulnerable. My girlfriends walked me through it and I’m forever grateful.

    I know I’m not fighting forest fires, I’m here in LA too and covered in soot. I get it. Really, I do. But this mattered to me.

    I’m just going to stop reading anything about it, because where I began is not where it will end.


  30. Queen of Spain says:

    Jessica I’m seriously confused.

    No one is questioning the call to action. The action by you or Katja, or the power of the voice that was given. You had sisterhood the entire time.

    We all defend Motherhod, and have with many a company. The power of social media was used to do it successfully again here. Horray us.

    My issue is with the flames that did get out of hand. None of which I believe you were involved in…or were you?

    Asking for those involved to be responsible now that they have won their battle is by no means a free pass for Motrin or any other company.

    I’m so confused. Prickly or not prickly (and btw I’m guessing my inbox could rival the names in yours any day of the week and twice on sundays) I’m thinking you perhaps took my post as being aimed at you- when it was not aimed at any face or name in particular?

    I don’t know, that’s the only explanation I have at this point.

  31. Lucretia, you misunderstood my tone. Apologies! I was jumping on your bandwagon.

  32. You know, I don’t know if “professional” is necessarily the right word because not all of the women who reacted – and were heard – are in business. They aren’t all getting free stuff or money or anything from blogging.

    BUT, that doesn’t mean they aren’t being heard.

    Perhaps the word that would say the same thing and hold the same expectations is “grown up”.

  33. I rrely disagree with you, but this is one time that I have to. Maybe I just wasn’t paying enough attention but I didn’t see a mob, I didn’t see calling for Motrin’s head on a platter, and I didn’t see hate being spewed after the fact. I saw a thousand voices of various opinions sharing their views, discussing it after wards, and retweeting for those gone over the weekend.

  34. Queen of Spain says:

    Summer I saw calls for people to be fired, people laughing over someone losing their job. Calls for a Boycott. Calls for a counter campaign. I saw unreasonable demands about exactly how a company should engage. ALL AFTER Motrin pulled the ad and apologized.

    I’m not, necessarily, taking issue with what happened during a call to action. I’m taking issue with what happened after.

  35. Ahh, see I never saw any of that. It’s a good reason to keep my followers number low, less crazy happening on my twitter.

  36. Amber was much less generous with this issue:

    “A lot of the complaints are about a line in the ad explaining how hip baby slings are. This made the twitter moms mad because they thought it was saying women wore babies and baby slings like accessories. Well, newsflash, ladies: a lot of women do. There’s an entire industry that specializes in trendy baby accessories, and Motrin didn’t invent it.”

  37. Do companies have to ignore the realities of the world? Is there a PC element to speaking to a source of muscle strain? Would we complain if a company realized the stress of heavy backpacks?

    The influence of the web, and the voices of ordinary people, are powerful, entertaining and have ushered in a new era. We find a cornucopia of opinions, a means to influence and a conduit to like-mindedness. For many of us, it is a means to a living for influencing a generation of consumers. As a writer, the ability of the Internet to sway opinion, produce sales and influence trends is powerful.

    It should be remembered that any woman who has been enormously successful, should be celebrated. Few people will ever be the governor of a state in this country. Despite a person’s ideology, it is a fantastic accomplishment for any sex.

  38. No. You’re wrong. And you continue to insult the very women that J&J did such a fine job insulting. That you compare women to Sarah Palin is and repeat the condescension is typical, usually typical of men who are trying to outline and set the parameters on just how much power we’re “allowed” to have and in what quarters, but it doesn’t surprise me any more when it comes from other women.

    The fact is that no matter how large the “firestorm” or “controversy” this was still a very small representation of women who were speaking. But again, this is typical. A certain subsection gets what they want, and then they begin defining a movement for the rest of us, a definition which ultimately acts to push down. Another play at power.

    What is even more embarrassing and even frightening is the rush of commentary trying to control through what amounts to bullying and using the language that roped us in for so long right back at us. Don’t *you* people have anything better to do?

    That women are using this opportunity to engage the mommy wars again by defining for other women what issues are important or good or worthy when it comes to their parenting is shocking and saddening. Maddening, really. It’s a judgment on values and raising the specter of The Good Mommy to bash down those who other women feel threatened by through their own insecurities of not feeling Good Enough..

    And damn, I thought we were finally beyond this; I thought we were finally beyond the infighting that has thus far prevented us from galvanizing our efforts and moving on to the “big important” issues. It never ceases to amaze me how much women have invested in holding other women down and back.

    Go talk to my neighbors. Go talk to my family members. The trickle down hasn’t extended to them yet. Some of them actually can’t breastfeed in public – or at all – or wear a sling without being ridiculed or judged as trying to compensate for some innate mothering inadequacies – not good enough for equality in the workplace, and now that some of your elite sisters are flexing their mommy muscles, we’ll keep reminding you that mothers are second class citizens. But, you know, sucks to be them. The Blogger Gurlz have spoken and you’ll need their sanctifying grace before saying boo and there goes another movement.

    Acting like a dimwit indeed.

  39. Queen of Spain says:

    Give me a break Jozet. Perhaps you need a history lesson on what some of us bloggers have ALREADY done? We’ve taken on J&J before you know. And perhaps you need to go back and read again. Did you see what happened AFTER Motrin apologized? Did you see what continues to happen?

    This isn’t a post about quieting activism. This is a post reminding those who won that with power comes responsibility.

    Take your knee-jerk elsewhere, because my entire blogging career is based on empowering YOU. It’s not a lot to ask you be responsible with that power.

  40. Jozet-

    I preface my comment by noting that I don’t know hardly any of the women here. I’m sure they are all lovely people, but I have no pressing or driving need to know any of the women here. Or to please them. Or pat their little heads and tell them it’s all going to be alright.

    I come from the world of technology. It’s a very defined game in that world. Be better than the rest, and if you’re better, you have the right to be louder. If you’re just louder, but not better, then you’re going to be, at best, ignored or at worst, ridiculed.

    In fact, that’s the game in almost every industry, even mommy blogging (whatever the hell that industry actually is – is it an industry or a demographic?). The problem was is that there are tons of people being louder and only a few being better.

    I guess I’ll let you come out of your self pity world long enough to see the parallel to anyone or anything else in life.

    J&J made a mistake, corrected it, end of story. Your enemy today is your ally tomorrow. I believe that’s all Erin was trying to point out and I’d say there are quite a few women here who agree with her, not because the mommymafia said so, but because it’s a basic life principle.

  41. I think Aaron will need a respirator after he reads this – but I agree with him 100%.

    We women don’t get a “pass” because of our gender or because we give birth. Excel, do the best you can, and people will take notice.

    It’s not about volume – it’s about quality. If what you say resonates with people, they listen.

    I don’t always agree with Erin either – but I listen, because what she says has strength of conviction, a rational underlying structure, and a purpose. This time, I happen to agree with her. But every time I listen to what she’s saying, because her perspective is always enlightening to me.

    Moms want to be “taken seriously”? Then when we have the opportunity to change the world, even in a small way, we need to do it responsibly.

  42. Wow! I have been online for 15 years, and online at a LOT of blogs, and I had never heard of the Mommybloggers until I read the ZDNet article about you today. I was not even aware that such a power group existed, apparent dummy that I am. Where do you all hang out? Do I need to spend time on Twitter to join?

  43. I think the ad wasn’t the best. But it really is over with in my opinion and time to move on. I have bigger issues to tackle in my life.

  44. Hail the queen! I totally agree with your POV. Here’s mine, as a PR professional, Twitterer and mommy:

  45. Yup. My dad, a realtor, always reminds us to back down once the sale is made.


  1. […] infomercial. Back to your regularly scheduled mommy blogging. (Is this where I call for a march on Motrin headquarters? Not sure exactly how this […]

  2. […] Queen of Spain stated her disappointment in her fellow mommyblogger’s over the top reaction.  I was amazed by her secret society undertone of “Companies will continue to have no choice but to engage mommybloggers. They are not going anywhere. We are here and they have to deal with us.” […]

  3. […] Some people are still talking about how offended they are, and of course the commercial has been forever cemented on the Internet via YouTube and various blogs for even more viewing. And today another opinion has come to light-some people think the mom bloggers took it too far.  In fact, it seems that some think mom bloggers responded strictly on emotion and not as businesswomen. […]

  4. […] the lead story, somewhere, there’s a disconnect.” Erin Kotecki Vest, an accomplished journalist, wrote yesterday to her fellow mommybloggers, “It’s time to change how you conduct business. It’s no longer us […]

  5. […] blogger, who wrote a great blog post yesterday is Erin, Queen of Spain – there might be little chewing to do to understand fully what she means, but I agree with her too. […]

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