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There seem to be a couple of things that are in increasingly short supply as time goes on:

  1. Good judgment
  2. Common sense

Unfortunately, with the far-reaching, mass communication so easily achievable with Social Media, lapses in both judgment and common sense seem to be glaringly obvious and terribly well publicized when they occur (not than anyone seems to be learning anything from them).

http://articles.businessinsider.com/2012-01-03/news/30583232_1_transgender-woman-transgender-women-offensive-ads

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kiriblakeley/2011/08/17/niveas-new-ad-racist/

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/161295/read-my-lips-this-chapstick-social-media-controve.html

http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/why_groupons_super_bowl_ad_was_so_offensive.php

http://adage.com/article/adages/kenneth-cole-tweets-egypt/148643/

For more examples check out: http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/adfreaks-top-50-stories-2011-no-10-1-137276

I’d like to think I’m one to push the envelope.  I love humour and enjoy it above all other techniques in advertising.   My own personal sense of humour tends to be pretty irreverent.  On another day, I will even argue that we have become too sensitive and that pushing the border of political correctness as regards humour is a good thing.

However in my role as keeper of the product/brand/company image, I know that the worst thing I can do is insult or offend my consumer, consumer’s family, social group, ethnicity, gender or other affiliation.

Worse than the possible alienation and potential of losing a customer is the rupture of the relationship between the brand/product and the user due to the perceived breach of trust.  Because that is a real challenge to regain.

The brands and products we use help define who we are.  Our identity is a complicated matrix of upbringing, education, environment, beliefs, goals, desires (and much more) and is manifested in what we do for a living, where we live, the car we drive – if we drive a car – and the products we use.  Everything we do and buy/use represents a choice.  And a selection is based on trust.  Trust that the product/brand will perform, produce, do what it says, deliver against its promise.

As all of our choices are made for a reason that links to who we are, there is a level of identification with the product.  It’s a reflection of who we are.  A relationship exists.

Because, in the times we live in, news of the betrayal goes viral instantly and all of the people who have a similar relationship with the product realize that they, too have been betrayed.

Good judgment should immediately nix any idea that might result in this happening right at the point where the concept is presented, no matter how clever it is/was.

Common sense should highlight the idea that anything with the potential of making customers uncomfortable or contradicting their view of the product or brand is going to present a conflict that may negatively affect their relationship with the brand.

Being the Pollyanna I am, I assume that the senior executives involved in these “situations” all rose to their exalted positions because of characteristics like good judgment and common sense…

Or maybe not!

 

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