For those that haven’t been following the Amazon debacle, allow me to recap: In what Amazon refers to as a “glitch,” last weekend, the online retailer removed from its listings many gay and/or lesbian-themed books by authors such as Gore Vidal, James Baldwin, and Jeanette Winterston, thus prompting a social media frenzy unseen since the “Motrin Moms” firestorm in 2008. Amazon has since responded, calling the incident an “embarassing and ham-fisted cataloging error,” but it was too little, too late. Using tags like “#amazonfail” and “#glitchmyass,” twitter users taught Amazon a valuable lesson: monitor your brand at all times, especially via social media, and especially on weekends. Had Amazon done just that, the company might have responded in a timely fashion, rather than having to do massive damage control, following a weekend of awkward silence.
Do you have a plan in place, should your brand be put in a similar situation? Here are some things to keep in mind:
- First of all, decide if this is a situation over which you have any control. For example, when a company is faced with content released by disgruntled employees, making a public statement could potentially draw attention to content over which the company has no control.
- Find out what is being said and by whom. In these types of situations, the marketer needs to know how many people saw the questionable content and how likely they are to be customers, and then react accordingly.
- You don’t have to have all of the answers all at one time. There is no shame in saying, “we’re aware of the situation. We don’t know how it happened, but we’re dealing with it.” It shows the brand’s human side, provided that a tone of genuine remorse is also conveyed.
- Don’t draw more attention to the problem than the situation warrants. For example, had Motrin kept their statements geared toward the twitter users that were specifically discussing the campaign they found offensive, the situation could have been contained, rather than garnering national media attention.
- Focus on the future and what your company will do in the future to prevent the situation from happening again. Once you convey this information to your customers, learn from your mistakes and move on.
Can I Have a Side of Snot With That?
Domino’s Pizza is learning the hard way how harmful one person with a video camera and a web uplink can be to a brand. A now-former employee and his friend uploaded a series of videos to YouTube, depicting them defiling the very food products they were making for customers (though the co-hort claims they didn’t actually serve the items to customers). Domino’s is not currently planning to make a statement about the videos, however, I’m sure that after viewing a video of a Domino’s employee shoving mozzarella cheese up his nose before putting it on a sandwich will cause at least a few customers to think twice before picking up the phone.
Fast Food Frenzy
Fast feeder Burger King is taking flak for its latest print ad, which features a squat Mexican wrapped in his nation’s flag and standing next to a tall American cowboy. Cultural stereotypes aside, the company is accused of improperly displaying the Mexican flag, which is protected by law. BK plans to scrap the creative and come up with something less offensive for the Texican Whopper.
Speaking of Burger King, in case you missed my post last week, The King is now hawking Sponge Bob Square Pants-themed kids’ meals to the tune of “Baby Got Back,” complete with the creepy ruler singing about his love of square butts and his urge to “get with” Sponge Bob, while scantily-clad women are shakin’ it in the background. Parents will be thrilled to know that the spot (shown here in its HD glory) was made in partnership with Nickelodeon.
Legal Stuff You Should Know
Sure, word-of-mouth advertising and blogs are hot right now, but the Federal Trade Commission may have something to say about it. The FTC is planning to monitor blogs and viral marketing, holding writers and marketers accountable for any false statements about products. At this point, the new policy only applies to bloggers and others who are compensated to promote or review a product.
Calling all art nerds: Iconic champagne manufacturer Veuve Clicquot has released its new posters created by French artist Florence Deygas. These represent a shift from the current, more contemporary Global Light campaign for their Rose Collection. Deygas has also created promotional art for Nokia, YSL, Vogue, Fendi, and Lacoste.