Do what I say, not what I do. This was the mantra of a few brands last year that should have thought twice before they fired off that tweet or released that ad. Because once it was out there, consumers became angry and offended. In an age where audiences can voice their opinions in real-time, companies need to be extra careful before they release something that represents their brand.
Here are a few cringe-worthy examples of 2013 brand fails.
Kenneth Cole made a Syria joke
In the midst of the controversial Syria crisis, Kenneth Cole thought it was a good time to sell his footwear. Cole himself tweeted “Boots on the ground, or not, let’s not forget about sandals, pumps and loafers. #Footwear.” This obviously didn’t go over well with consumers and the brand faced a pretty harsh backlash. Twitter was designed to satisfy someone’s every thought, but not every thought should be shared. This is a great example of the pitfalls of corporate tweeting.
The lesson: Whoever is in charge of a brand’s Twitter account, should always think twice, or three times before sending a tweet. And getting a second opinion is always encouraged.
Fitness SF didn’t pay their tab
The last person you should piss off is the one who still has access to your website. Fitness SF learned this lesson when they allegedly failed to pay Frank Jonen for the work he did on their company website. When Jonen wasn’t paid he decided to hack into the Fitness SF site and post a disgruntled letter. The letter was a call to arms for all freelancers who have been jilted by big corporations and caused the city gym a lot of bad press. It continued to get worse when Fitness SF decided to play out the feud in public with a responding statement to Adweek.
The lesson: Matters like this should have been handled privately, and although freelancers everywhere view Frank Jonen as a hero, he could also end up losing future business from the stunt.
Barilla offends the gay community
It was the sound bite heard round the world. Guido Barilla, chairman of the pasta company was quoted in a radio interview saying, “I would never do (a commercial) with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect but because we don’t agree with them. Ours is a classic family where the woman plays a fundamental role.” The statement caused an international outcry from the LGBT community and called for a boycott of the brand. Rival Bertolli saw the gaff as a chance to showcase their gay-friendly brand through social media.
The lesson: These days, news travels at lightening speeds and brands should be very careful about disenfranchising a segment of their target market. A blunder like this also leaves the door open for your competitors to show their universal acceptance.
2014 is a new year. Brands can start fresh and learn from the mistakes of the previous year. Contact us so we can help you avoid any potential brand fails in 2014!