Could Barnado’s “feral children” advertisement ever become the UK’s Motrin saga?

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Over the weekend, the power of social media to undermine a company’s reputation was on full display in the US. Mothers Twittered and blogged drug company Motrin into submission over its advertisement on YouTube targeting baby-sling wearing mums. The “Motrin Mothers” were outraged that any company could use what they saw as a negative image about child-rearing. By Monday morning, the company was truly humbled as its website had collapsed and nobody seemed to be around to deal with the fall-out, read Jeremiah Owyang and David Armano.

Could the same happen in the UK? Monday saw the release of an advertisement by Barnado’s, a charity for children. “Feral children” portrays a group of rednecks piling into a car to go shoot “vermin” who turn out to be children on a social housing estate. The justification? That each comment made by the would-be hunters have actually been made by real people to UK newspaper websites.

 It is a raw, powerful video with some shocking imagery. There has been some reaction in the traditional press and forums. As of today, Addictomatic shows some activity on blogs but Twitter not much. Is the UK so underdeveloped in social media compared to the US? Can UK organisations or companies rely on a continuing broadcast culture to preserve their reputations? Are people a lot less emotive on such subjects than their US cousins?

I leave you to compare the two videos below.

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