Wednesday, August 29, 2012

No Mean Girling in Advertising

It's really easy to be tempted into making digs at competitors in ads. I'm not talking slander on par with political campaigns. But with the growing role of agencies in clients' digital media management and content development, an agency can be searching for post fodder.

That happened to me today when we heard about a competitor dealing with a PR faux pas. In the end, it really came down to overly cranky customers and there was nothing inherently unethical or "wrong" with the brand's actions. But it would have been sooo easy to allude to the topic in a snarky Facebook post.

But it's too easy. We joked about it and toyed with it before we quickly settled that it just isn't worth it. Picking on a competitor never actually make consumers trust your brand more. The finger pointing only wastes our efforts on publicizing another brand while saying nothing of real substance about our actual client.

Sympathizing with what mess our competitor's PR team and creative agency must be dealing with, it got me thinking on creative responses to negative press or feedback. I tucked this example in my back pocket back in June when Smart Car came up with an awesome response to a Twitter comment. 

A lot of brands, big or small, deal with social media trolls who aim to incite reactions out of fans or spout off negative comments about a company and its products just to be sensational. Smart Car came across one such tweet from some a-hole who has an entire website dedicated to inventing trash-talking quips about advertising.

Clayton Hove tweeted, "Saw a bird had crapped on a Smart Car. Totaled it." Rather than lash back or let it slide, Smart Car decided to respond in a much more interesting and playful way – creating some serious buzz and even changing the mind of said hater. They calculated just how much bird shit it would take to indeed total a car. Read the full story here.

All I'm saying is to take the negative feedback, the easy digs, the "mean girling" mentality and turn it into an actual creative opportunity that says something about your brand and their personal touch on taking the high road.