Posts tagged ‘Crisis’

January 18, 2011

Advertising in Adversity: Are you serious?

An oxymoron if ever there was one. But this has never deterred brands committed to ONLY advertising to get their point across, from using it to bludgeon the public whenever they like.

In brand speak adversity means crisis and all received wisdom states that you do not “advertise” till you fix the problem your brand is facing and causing. When a brand is in crisis you do not talk for yourself, you make others – if you are fortunate – talk for you.

The best advertising works with simple and powerful truths using wit and depth to build a relationship with consumers and create a credible brand world in which we exist benefitting mutually: a world of values and emotions that create resonance and reassurance in our minds.

BP spent $ 93 million on advertising after the Gulf Oil Spill. Where did it get them? The jury is still out. The noise has lessened. The final impact of the crisis, its full damage to brand reputation and just how the brand will recover, is a matter for another discussion. Read the CBSNews story for details.;drawer-container

Defensive advertising has always sounded off key and unbelievable. A brand in crisis is surrounded by concerns and controversies that rattle consumers, annoy regulators, convulse communities. How can anyone even consider putting in a paid advertisement to explain what happened without first mitigating the effects of the crisis? And just because it is taking you so long to bring the crisis under control and because you are getting flack from all sides and because the media are hacking you to pieces and the government is riding your fender does not mean you issue advertising with half baked explanations.

Today good brand behavior demands companies do the following at all times and not just in adversity:

  • Honor the right to information of all stakeholders at all times.
  • Provide fair exchange of value regardless of any “branded” intangibles that are on offer.
  • Revise the old profit and loss equation and factor in social returns. Most of us are not just shareholders any more. Our social morality has progressed faster than that of the business houses.
  • Allow stakeholders to have their say in public and otherwise. Privacy is dead and social media channels have made sure of that. Your dirty linen will get washed in public whether you like it or not.
  • The litigant stakeholder has arrived and is here to stay. Gear up. Preferably look for ways to settle issues outside of court.
  • DO NOT ban media that give you bad coverage.
  • Appoint a Chief Vigilance Officer whose only job should be to keep an eye on all vulnerabilities as the PEST environment changes.

At the end of the day how engaged a brand is with the problem that affects communities, how intelligently the brand ensures a dialogue between itself and its well wishers as well as its enemies is the true test of a well managed crisis. Did you get the benefit of the doubt? Were your explanations accepted?