Pepsi

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.

Advertisements

What Went Wrong: Kendall Jenner and Pepsi

spl1473920-006

Image courtesy of New York Daily News

In our next series, coined “What Went Wrong,” I’ll be discussing recent controversial marketing campaigns and providing an analysis of why I feel they may have failed.

My goal of this series is to share my analysis of a campaign so that you can see that even the ‘larger’ brands don’t always get it right and also to give you an opportunity to learn from these mistakes and avoid them when it comes to marketing your business.

This week, we’ll look at Pepsi’s Live for Now advertisement featuring Kendall Jenner.

If you haven’t yet seen the “canned” commercial, click here to watch it.

Here are my reasons for why this campaign may have failed to resonate with consumers:

Issue One: Wrong message at the wrong time

It’s no secret that the U.S. is currently in a hyper-politicized state. The intended aim of this campaign was to provide commentary on the current social and political injustices in the country. How Pepsi chose to do this though, in regards to their solution to these injustices, is what led to public outcry.

Shots from the advertisement appear to mimic Black Lives Matter protests in the United States, with a particularly well-known image of protestor Iesha Evans facing two police officers in Baton Rouge. When Kendall Jenner simply hands a Pepsi to one of the police officers, the outcome is joy and applause; if only solving racial injustices was that easy.

Advertisements that choose to make a commentary on societal issues must address them with empathy and sincerity, or risk coming across as tone-deaf, or worse, exploitative.

Tip #1: Be mindful and cautious of the stances you take on politically charged issues, even if your heart is in the right place.

Issue Two: Utilizing controversial celebrities

Celebrity endorsement is nothing new when it comes to selling products or services, especially for big brands. But selecting Kendall Jenner to be the new face of Pepsi proved to not be so wise. While Kendall Jenner has achieved tremendous success in her career, she has also received criticism in the past for appropriating black culture and for copyright infringement.

Businesses must be extremely careful that the public figures that represent their brand have not been involved past controversies. These past missteps should have been taken into account, especially in an advertisement that seemed to mimic Black Lives Matter protests.

Tip #2: Similar to celebrity endorsement for large brands, you may want to choose influencer marketing as a marketing technique. Before selecting an influencer, ensure the influencer you choose aligns with your values and is free from controversy that may tarnish your brand.

Issue Three: Not learning from past mistakes

In 2013, Pepsi-owned Mountain Dew released an advertisement featuring an injured woman on crutches identifying a criminal from a police lineup of 5 African-American men. The ad was immediately criticized as insensitive towards the serious issues of violence against women and systemic racism in the criminal justice system. It’s crucial that businesses understand feedback and criticism and ensure that past mistakes are not repeated.

Tip #3: It’s always important to publicly address negative criticism in the online world. If your business has received a negative comment or review on a social platform or search engine, take some time to respond to the unhappy consumer by addressing their concern and providing any assistance in resolving the manner. That is, of course, if the comment does not contain obscene wording or profanity, in which case deleting the comment would suffice.

As a small business, it’s important that your marketing is executed in a strategic manner. As we’ve seen with this controversial story, one wrong move could lead to the demise of your business. Contact the professionals at CreativeWorks Marketing today for assistance with your marketing campaigns!