Dove

Ensuring Your Marketing Campaign is Politically Correct

Screen Shot 2018-05-02 at 11.10.51 AMMarketing is all about ensuring your target audiences successfully receive your brand’s message. So how do you ensure your message isn’t misinterpreted? How do you protect your brand from backlash in today’s highly attentive market?

Here are some of my suggestions to preserve your brand’s intended messaging:

Pay Attention to Common Sensitivities

Some examples of societal sensitivities are gender, sexual orientation, and race. Take a look at last year’s Dove ad, for instance, which many people interpreted as racist.

Before launching a marketing campaign, discuss sensitivity precautions with your marketing department or agency. Together, you may determine that setting up a focus group is in your business’s best interest. Sharing your marketing material with a controlled group of consumers is a precious form of market research. With it, you can test whether or not your messaging resonates with your target audiences. If multiple people come back with the same sensitivity concerns, you can make any necessary changes to the campaign before you go live.

Be Wary of Pop Culture References

While you may want to use current pop culture references or trends in your marketing, it’s important to know their historical background and what they really mean. Because of the rise of social media, marketing messages are more public and accessible than ever, allowing the general public and consumers to be more critical of businesses in an open forum. Not even art is exempt from political correctness, as the Art Gallery of Ontario recently acknowledged by issuing an apology for “racist costumes” at a fundraiser.

Avoid Getting Political

The reason many businesses succeed where others fail is because they learn from other businesses’ mistakes. For instance, you can learn from Pepsi’s marketing mishap last year. Marketing campaigns that choose to touch on political issues must address them with empathy and sincerity. Otherwise, your business may come across as selfish for taking advantage of a serious matter for personal gain.

Research Target Market Influencers

Where multi-billion-dollar companies use celebrity endorsements, you can use influencer marketing to maximize your audience reach. However, you must be extremely careful that the public figures that represent your brand have not been involved in past controversies. Before selecting influencers, thoroughly research what they stand for to ensure their values align with yours.

As a business owner, it is essential that you consider how every detail of your campaign could affect consumers. Even after reviewing your marketing campaign from every angle, there could be unexpected backlash. For this reason, you may want to have an action plan in place. Last month, a Starbucks PR nightmare was prevented because of the company’s swift response to rectify a racial controversy by implementing racial bias training. You could also consider hiring a community manager to advocate for your brand on social media.

For a second pair of eyes on an upcoming campaign or for further advice on how to recover from a recent backlash, contact CreativeWorks Marketing today.

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What Went Wrong: Dove’s Soap Ad

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Image courtesy of The Daily Dot

In the next of our, “What Went Wrong” series, I’d like to explore a recent controversial advertisement aired by Dove. For years, Dove has created a brand that’s reflective of “real beauty” for women, meant to relate to all women despite their physical characteristics. The personal care brand has launched several successful marketing campaigns in the past; most notably their Dove Campaign for Real Beauty which aims “to celebrate the natural physical variation embodied by all women and inspire them to have the confidence to be comfortable with themselves”, according to the company.

But what happens when your brand values are misinterpreted in advertising, thus resulting in public backlash?

If you’ve yet to see Dove’s latest commercial, watch it here.

Here are the reasons why I think this campaign failed in its execution:

Issue One: Lack of attention to racial sensitivities

It makes sense that Dove would cast models of different ethnic backgrounds in their ads. They are, of course, a company that prides themselves on inclusion. But central to the failed execution of this campaign is the order in which they chose to introduce each woman combined with the product they were selling. This lack of attention to detail led to public outcry of Dove being racially insensitive.

The ad was criticized because many people interpreted a black woman ‘changing’ into a white woman to be an inappropriate message – especially for a beauty company. It’s important to note that the reaction to this ad was swift and clear, with almost no one coming to the more positive conclusions that Dove intended.

Tip #1: Before releasing an advertisement of any kind, show it to a few people who come from diverse backgrounds. This exercise will provide you with important feedback and allow you to make any necessary changes to the ad prior to it going live.

Issue Two: Failure to learn from competitors

Yet again, and much like the last campaign I analyzed, brands fail to learn from past mistakes. Dove is not the first company to be in the spotlight for airing a racially insensitive commercial. Remember this commercial that sparked public outrage last year?

In the past, there are many historical examples of soap and personal hygiene ads utilizing racially charged images. Some of these include overtly racist images of people of colour scrubbing their skin to become white, and some show more subtle images of women using makeup and beauty products to make their skin lighter. However, there are numerous examples of ads with this messaging that have consistently provoked outrage, and it’s important that companies study past marketing mistakes in order to avoid them in the future.

Tip #2: If you’re launching a new campaign, conduct competitor research first to gain insight on what has and has not worked for the competition.

A successful campaign is not necessarily one that has an infinite budget. As a small business, if you put in the time and energy to know who your customers are, you’ll be able to create tailored messages that resonate with your audience, and thus convert more leads. For assistance in finding out who your customers are, contact the team at CreativeWorks Marketing today!