Tag Archives: remember

Coca-Cola loses its fizz after insulting customer

22 Sep

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Have you heard the one about Coca-Cola calling one of its customers a ‘retard‘ via its latest promotion?

Ok, maybe you haven’t because it happened in Canada. But here’s what happened:

Blake Loates bought home a bottle of Coca-Cola’s Vitamin Water earlier this week and she was in for a shock when she unscrewed the cap, which read ‘You Retard’ on the inside. Some people may have found it funny (personally I don’t, and even less so coming from a global brand) but Blake certainly didn’t because her sister suffers from cerebral palsy.

Her father wrote a letter of disgust forcing Coca-Cola to own up to its politically incorrect mistake – which it did quite well. But the reason the brand manager (or PR) cited for the inappropriate wording was a language mix up (‘retard’ meaning ‘delayed’ or ‘late’ in French), which relates a wider promotion the brand was running.

The fact that more people may have or will continue to open up the phrase before the manufacturing process is discontinued is shocking – and the fact that Coca-Cola has undone its apology to the family, by not noticing the mistake long before it went public, is dumb.

There’s some small-scale crisis management to be done now, in my opinion, because consumers won’t remember the story being a water bottle lid ‘lost in translation’, it’ll become ‘Coca-Cola calls cerebral palsy teenager a retard’. But for some reason the drinks company has put this issue to the bottom of its ‘to do’ list as it looks to push ahead with its international obesity campaign.

Of course a stunt like this won’t damage a brand like that, but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t show empathy. I’d have liked to have seen Coca-Cola show some personality by making the Loates family feel like a valued customer and sending some freebies. Essentially, the company needs the family to publicly say the right things to override the negative comments so everyone can see that the situation was dealt with.

This time, Coca-Cola might not have lost its bottle with the complaint, but it’s certainly lost its fizz.

Would this bad PR put you off your favourite soft drink?

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More brands suffer at the hands of social media

11 Sep

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First there were hurricanes, and shootings. Then there was horsemeat and a Royal baby. What have these events got in common? They’ve all prompted (foolish) companies to jump on the bandwagon to promote their brands. But, more often than not, the PR and marketing team’s rushed efforts lead to a grovelling apology after a consumer backlash.

Let me explain.

Today, the world remembers the innocent victims from the tragic 9/11 event in New York. And, like clockwork, brands have used the 12-year anniversary for self gain. Unfortunately, it’s all too transparent and US site Fast Company has created a round-up of the worst social media stunts. Take a look – it’s really interesting.

Telecommunications company AT&T shamelessly featured the new Blackberry in its commemorative corporate tweet – which went down like a lead balloon despite the brand realising its rookie mistake and deleting from its Twitter and Facebook accounts.

That’s not all.

Marriott Hotels – which has a unique connection with 9/11 in the sense that one of its branches sat at the foot of the Twin Towers and collapsed with it on the day – tweeted an image of a plate of pastries and a sign reading that it was giving them away between 8.45am and 9.15am. People lost their lives. So, needless to say that pastries aren’t really a consolation prize to shout about.

First of all, social media managers / interns / robots that are running the game must sense check with the wider marketing teams and get key messages signed off. That way if the update blows – you’re all idiots.

Secondly, an event like this shouldn’t even be viewed as a commercial opportunity. Yes, if done in the right way, it can curry favour with consumers. But, brands shouldn’t make light of 9/11 in anyway. Ok, a #neverforget hash tag can put your tweet in the centre of the online community, but images? Risky. What picture can possibly connect with thousands of people directly associated with the event, and the millions more who were touched by it. As we’ve seen, brands can be on top of the world one minute and at the bottom the next. And clicking delete doesn’t mean a thing once it’s been seen.

Brands must keep it simple. Nappy company Huggies is a good example of this by remembering the victims and the brave people who risked their lives to save others. But, even then, you’re left thinking ‘why are you getting involved?’

So, lastly, unless your brand has a direct association with the event in question and you have something that will add value to ‘the’ online conversation, say nothing at all.

Silence is golden in situations like this. Agree?

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