If you watched the Super Bowl last Sunday, you probably saw the stellar Budweiser “Lost Dog” commercial (if you missed it, catch it here). This ad, which hits on timeless themes of loyalty and friendship, has generated a tremendous amount of buzz and has been repeatedly voted one the best commercials from this year’s Super Bowl crop.
What you might not know is that there was a second ad scheduled to appear that evening with an almost identical setup: an adorable puppy, accidentally lost in the wilderness, braves many dangers to come home … only to discover that it had been sold online to a new owner. The final shot shows the disappointed dog being shut in a delivery van.
When GoDaddy leaked this commercial a few days ahead of the Super Bowl, it too generated a lot of buzz … almost entirely negative. Even people who understood that GoDaddy’s main marketing strategy is to be controversial and darkly funny thought the ad went too far. Finally the company pulled the ad a few days before airing and replaced it with a different commercial altogether.
Traditional advertising wisdom states that “any publicity is good publicity.” As long as people are talking about your company, no matter how much harm it may do to your reputation in the short term, it almost always turns into a long-term asset as people forget the controversy but still remember the conversation.
This might even be true, but usually only in small doses. A company with a good reputation can make one or two tone-deaf moves and still continue to be successful. Nobody really expects GoDaddy, a large, well-funded company which provides a useful service, to take a serious hit to its bottom line over one ill-advised commercial.
Over time, though, negative hits like these can add up. For a company which is already shaky, one big mistake can knock the beams out from under it.
One of the easiest ways to make a social slip-up is the gimmick. Gimmicks are usually humorous, short-term promotional pushes centered around an item or an event. The problem is that “humorous” means different things to different people. There’s a fine line between being edgy and being cruel; when you’re caught up in the middle of a big expensive project, it can be hard to see. The desire to justify the time and effort put into a promotion tends to make people push just a little harder at that line than they should. Too often, it backfires, and that can take the whole business down with it.
We at Matcha Design always try to impress on our clients the importance of community opinion. The easiest way to maintain a golden reputation is to have integrity and pay attention to detail in what you do. A loyal customer base and good word of mouth is worth a dozen marketing pushes.
But when that’s not enough to grow a business, we help our customers get the word out while still maintaining social awareness. We make sure to discuss in detail what they expect each marketing piece to do for them, help them manage their expectations, weed out any portions which might hinder their efforts, and then assist them in investing their marketing dollars wisely so they can reach their destination.
In the end, we want to see our clients succeed just as much as they do. That’s how we maintain our reputation, and how we can help you maintain yours.