Marketing Genius from Maple Creative


Marketing tips, observations & philosophy, plus a few rants and random musings - from those who practice, preach and teach marketing, research, advertising, public relations and business strategy.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

In Times Like These

With the tragedy of the natural disaster that occurred this week in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast on the minds of many, now is an opportune time to revisit a basic premise of marketing. This topic presents itself periodically--whenever we go to war, when disasters strike--and without question in the weeks and months that immediately followed September 11, 2001.

So here's the question: "Is it okay for us to insert a message of support/sympathy into our advertising campaign?"

Never, never, ever tie your marketing to natural disaster or war or terrorist events. You are not likely to ever get a more direct answer from me, than on this topic.

I know. It is very tempting to add a line to your ad, something like this: "Our hearts go out to the victims of Hurricane Katrina." Or "We support our troops." Such action might seem like the thing to do, not only because you want to say those things, but also because the message may resonate with your audience.

However, the far greater, deciding factor is that you run the risk of being perceived as opportunistic. Do not play on the public's heartstrings with sympathy messages or patriotism. Never pray upon their fears. They will see right through it, and you will greatly harm your brand equity.

Don't get me wrong, please. I am not suggesting that we should be heartless. It's just that there's a time, a forum and a way to communicate marketing messages ... and a whole separate manner for communicating statements of public support or sympathy or patriotism. Never mix the two. Certainly don't allow room for misinterpretation.

If you want to issue a message of compassion, do it with a press release or a letter. But if you still feel compelled to focus your advertisement on a message of patriotism or sympathy or compassion, craft the whole entire advertisement around such feelings. Just don't try to slip a product mention or the details of this week's special into the ad.


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