It is the nightmare of all marketers in the internet age in which brands now move. The brand does something, that something becomes viral and is positioned as the trending topic of the moment. In the mildest cases, the brand is the protagonist of mockery and jokes.
From everything, a couple of memes and a few viral tweets will be born that will make the brand be ridiculed, but it does not have to be completely damaged. If you show that you have a sense of humor, it can even pay off.
In the most complicated cases, and when what causes the criticism is not a slight gaffe or a ‘little mistake’ but something serious, the brand is dragged into a maelstrom that will force it to do damage control, apologize, change things and even fire someone. No brand wants that. How to avoid these problems and how to stay out of the big scandals in social networks?
A column in Bloomberg has analyzed the issue and a series of lessons and guidelines to follow can be extracted from its proposals. This is, according to the analysis of the economic newspaper columnist, which will prevent them from putting your brand in the pillory.
If you already work well, you will not have problems
From the outset, and to avoid this type of problem and that consumers ‘rise up’ against the brand, it must avoid empty content and campaigns that seem simply a way to commercialize the issue of the moment.
The Pepsi ad in which one of the Jenner sisters stopped police violence with a Pepsi is one example. Another one they put in the analysis is an “LGTB sandwich”: it was launched by the British department store chain Marks & Spencer. His commitment was that he had colors. The commitment cannot be simple posturing or taking advantage of a topic of the moment. It must be real.
The consumer must feel that it is authentic. In fact, right now, many consumers would be able to list brands and positions. In Europe, we are still at an earlier stage and brands are linked to more general causes.
In the United States, consumers can separate them into more progressive brands and those that are more conservative. For example, and since Starbucks is seen as a progressive company, conservative coffee shop chains have emerged to reach consumers further to the right.
But not all companies feel comfortable – or can – have such a clear ideology, so the analysis not only points in that direction but also gives other advice on how to manage presence and avoid ending up in a spiral of criticism on social networks.
The companies that stay in the middle
Staying in an intermediate position is not easy, because consumers feel that when faced with certain issues, it is not possible to be equidistant (and looking at the recommendations made by the analysis, it can be added that it is morally very questionable). Furthermore, society’s own flows make situations much more complex and not reacting more difficult. How to stay halfway? This is what the analysis they publish on Bloomberg recommends.
A modest position
This is the first proposal that the analysis points out, although it is neither simple nor always offers positive results. What may work in one market can have a disastrous domino effect in others (it happens to all companies that are censored to operate in China, that are viewed critically outside the country).
Even so, as they explain in the analysis, self-censorship is neither socially nor morally justifiable, but for some brands that are afraid to go further it can become the least difficult thing to do.
Keep a fuzzy position
Or what is the same, do not commit yourself clearly to anyone and get closer to the sun that is hotter depending on the context. This is what they do, they point out, fashion companies that launch products along modest lines to reach ultra-religious communities, but at the same time launch advertisements and promises of support to LGBTQ + groups (legally persecuted in the countries and morally by the communities they target). that those modest lines want to conquer) or campaigns with a high erotic charge.
It is also what multinational brands do that have niche products that go to consumers who reject them: Innocent is a trendy brand of juices and healthy air products. Coca-Cola is an investor.
Flood the market and let them forget your dodgy side
If your brand is associated with something very problematic but that is beyond your control, bury it in an avalanche of alternative things. It is, as an example, what Dr. Martens did to make people forget that they were the favorite shoes of the neo-Nazis.
The company launched many products – such as children’s shoes – that separated them from that space and promoted the presence of different urban groups (not problematic, obviously) such as those who wear their shoes.