We have all heard the saying: “there is no such thing as bad publicity,” and it would seem that, more and more, businesses and social media marketing campaigns are taking that saying to heart. Whether it’s an ad that makes light of a serious social issue or one that evokes negative racial, cultural, or gender stereotypes, the myriad “marketing fails” in the last year alone have inspired a storm of activity on social media. In light of all this attention, some have wondered whether these mistakes might not actually have been calculated attempts to increase brand recognition and capture the public spotlight. However, as tempting as it may be to exploit a little negative attention to benefit your business, in reality doing so can actually cause far more harm than good.
The idea that a bad reputation might actually be a positive thing first gained real traction in the Paris art world at the end of the nineteenth century, when the term “succès de scandale” (French for “success from scandal”) was used to refer to several artists who gained fame and commercial success after being publically accused of immorality or indecency. Since then, many celebrities in the art and entertainment industry have thrived by carefully cultivating “dangerous” or “shocking” public personas. In fact, some artists have defined their personal brand as “counter-cultural” to such an extent that even being accused of criminal activity only increases their fans’ devotion. However, this tactic has proven to be much less effective in other industries. People expect art to be innovative and controversial, but tend to look for more long-term dependability in products and services that they rely on every day, particularly in essential services like medicine and health care. The attention that edgy web content might generate is generally short-lived and it can often scare away more customers or patients than it attracts.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, controversy always has consequences. No matter what your intentions, posts or campaigns designed to enflame emotions can easily get out of control and alienate large segments of your customer base, potentially affecting sales or even provoking boycotts. Because these negative reactions are rooted in personal beliefs and opinions rather than in objective facts, changing them can often be extremely difficult. It may take years or even decades of dedicated reputation management to counteract the damage that a single ill-conceived marketing campaign can cause.
Even though the marketing landscape is constantly changing, there are really no “quick fixes.” The short-term benefits that may result from questionable “attention getting” tactics are almost always outweighed by the negative long-term repercussions. That’s just one of the reasons why our team at McCauley Marketing Services develops comprehensive marketing strategies designed to benefit your business both now and in many years to come. If you would like to explore how we can help you, schedule a marketing meeting today. We’d love to hear your thoughts, so please connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to share your tips and recommendations.