Tag Archives: Responsibility

Coca-Cola: Call me anything, just not ‘gay’

29 Jan

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Coca-Cola or Coca-Cock up? It’s hard to tell when this global brand keeps making marketing mistakes.

After asking fans to share a personalised coke, Coca-Cola’s sub brand – Vitamin Water – fell foul of calling one unlucky US customer a ‘retard’. And now, according to BBC Trending, the South African coke microsite has banned people from calling their can of coke ‘Gay’.

‘Computer error’ I hear you ask? Well, technical glitches don’t tend to read:

Oops. Let’s pretend you didn’t just type that. Please try another name.

The brand has since apologised and resolved the issue by clarifying which names can be used on its social media led channel by listing them on the site. But, if Coca-Cola thinks it can move on swiftly it’s highly mistaken.

With the 2014 Winter Games around the corner – featuring Jamaica (probably the most exciting thing about the event) – rightly or wrongly this has definitely become a gay rights issue.

Although the Games wouldn’t happen without its sponsors, it’s down to all marketeers, regardless of what country they’re based in, to communicate with one another to ensure they have an integrated approach. Remember that word? In this industry it doesn’t just look pretty on paper, it means something.

Sure, some might agree that Sochi shouldn’t be punished for South Africa’s mistakes but the truth is a quick phone call could have ensured the brand isn’t tarnished in every time zone. With Russia attracting attention for the wrong reasons since it passed legislation banning propaganda of ‘non traditional sexual relations among minors’, it’s important that businesses know which side of the fence they’re sitting on. Otherwise you’ll have international media, bloggers and entire communities hating on you, including Gay activist John Aravosis.

It’s time for marketeers to take responsibility for their actions because, with this company in particular, ‘sorry’ is wearing thin. If you’re going to put consumers in charge, then you have to be prepared for the consequences.

If in doubt, leave it out! What do you think?

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Is London Duck Tours headed for a watery grave?

29 Sep

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It’s been a good week for ducks. Or rather, it had been before London Duck Tours’ bus-boat caught on fire in the Thames this afternoon, leaving passengers to jump overboard.

Now I’ve seen those bus-boats poodling around the capital and I can’t say I’d jump at the chance to take a ride. While the brand might call this experience ‘fun, quirky and different’, I think it’s more ‘rusty, risky and darn scary’.

I know what you’re thinking and you’re right, it doesn’t matter what I have to say. But the truth is, London Duck Tours hasn’t said anything. No updates have been posted on Twitter, Facebook or the website. So by doing nothing, the business has exposed itself as unprofessional, unreliable and untrustworthy. Three traits nobody wants to mix with.

After a similar company had its water licence revoked last month, following a sinking in Liverpool, I’m starting to think that all the PR in the world couldn’t keep this brand’s reputation afloat.

However, if I was to pushed to come up with a strategy, this is what I’d do:

1. It’s too late to apologise
But London Duck Tours has got to do it anyway. This situation cannot get any better unless the business admits fault and takes full responsibility for the accident. This apology, directed at the brave passengers, needs to be sent to all the journalists and bloggers who have covered the story – along with details of who they can speak to for more information. Trust me, they’ll expect it.

2. The show’s over
I’d recommend cancelling all tours for the next few weeks. Certainly before customers cancel on the duck. Rather than attract attention by continuing business, and people waiting in the wings to shout about your next mistake, I’d use this time to rebuild trust with the public.

3. Buy new equipment
This is the time that City Cruises and Thames Clippers will be showing off their attributes, such as safety, so come back to your customers with a clear message: new equipment. Ideally London Duck Tours should also work with a VIP and take them out for a spin to attract interest.

Arranging a photo-call up and down the river, so everyone can see the duck is back, would be good but, better still, the team could brand the boat with a hashtag to track what people have to say about the re-launch.

After that, you’re on your own! What would you suggest for this sitting duck?

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Waitrose gets customers to ‘horse’ around

20 Jan

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Waitrose has been encouraging consumers to ‘horse around’ (been waiting for a good opportunity to write that) on its ‘Love Life‘ slide, which was installed at Westfield Stratford City shopping centre last weekend.

Named after the supermarket’s range of ‘good for you’ food, it offered people a fun alternative to walking down the escalators in East London.

At a time when the the UK’s obesity levels are bursting at the seams – currently one in four adults are classified as obese – it’s vital that well-known brands are seen to be doing their bit. Aside from the Government’s Public Health Responsibility Deal and latest Change4Life push, companies must help communicate that adopting a healthy lifestyle is vital to our survival.

OK. The mechanics of this PR stunt doesn’t jump out on paper but it’s a good alternative to get the message home (when accompanied by the fact that in January people are looking for a little ‘pick me up’.) Creative campaigns, to hammer home healthy eating, are key to stand out in the media and resonate with consumers. After all, no one enjoys being repeatedly told they need to move from their armchair and eat more carrots. You get my drift.

Up to 3,000 people were made aware of Waitrose’s healthy eating scheme and many more children will experience it now that plans have been made to relocate the slide to a playground in East London.

Seen other good examples of brands celebrating healthy eating recently?

Last year my client – Unilever Food Solutions – had a vibrant campaign idea to transform an ambulance into a unique ‘Ambu-lunch‘.

Why not leave a comment with others?

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