In the spring of 2015, Pepsi launched an advertisement which featured Kendall Jenner. In the advertisement, Kendall is at a photoshoot sporting a light-colored wig. She is sidetracked by the protestors outside, and then yanks off her wig to join the demonstration. She walks through a crowd of young protestors and picks up a can of Pepsi from a random cooler in the middle of the march. She strides towards a row of police officers established in riot police fashion and offers one of them the can. The officer beams and superficially, the situation is solved. This advertisement received a lot of backlash. Many customers think that this advertainment plays down the significance of protests in history. Like many companies PepsiCo sent out a statement after all of the backlash and said they were “trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding,” observing that they clearly missed that message and did not intend to make light of serious issues.
Along with this example, there are numerous illustrations of poor advertising. In this paper, I contend that research beforehand and a proper response can help advertisers to avoid negative publicity. I will point out how marketing affects consumers, examples of immoral advertisements, and businesses' strategic responses to advertisement flops.
How marketing affects consumers
According to iResearch Services, a marketing research organization, people are affected by advertising in many ways. This includes marketing campaigns, economic conditions, personal preferences, group influence, and purchasing power. These factors can “be broadly classified as the decisions and actions that influence the purchasing behavior of a consumer.” The study of consumer behavior not only aids to understand the past but even predicts the future. One of the most interesting examples given is group influence. The chief influential group consists of family members, classmates, and direct kin. The secondary influential group consists of neighbors and colleagues. This group is seen to have greater influence on the purchasing decisions of a consumer. This particular factor shows how easily people can fall for peer pressure.
Another example of negative promotion is the publics behavioral backlash to slogans. Many people understand that one of marketing's biggest reason to advertise is to encourage people to purchase merchandise. This can make people feel apprehensive about marketing and can cause criticism, even if the advertisement isn't exceptionally adverse. Because of this, people may choose not to spend money on a product. Certain persuading tools such as slogans or a brand name “may backfire and generate effects opposite to those intended by marketers.” This reaction against slogans can increase or decrease spending, depending on the slogan's message especially supporting a product.
Dove provoked massive outrage in October 2017, when it published a 3-second video on Facebook showing a black woman removing her top to reveal a white woman beneath. To the average viewer, the clip appeared to suggest that for a black woman to be attractive, she'd need to lighten her skin. It not only left a bad impression on consumers, but also blemished Dove's much-praised, pro-women marketing that it spent the past decade building. Research would be important in this situation because Dove could have avoided the backlash. They could have discovered that many people would find a black woman revealing a white woman would be interpreted as discriminatory by consumers. If the advertisers researched this, the whole negative situation could have been avoided. The beauty brand removed the clip and apologized, saying on Twitter that the post had "missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully." The Unilever brand seems intent on not repeating the mistake again and has introduced a new internal process for creating and calculating ad creative.
In 1985 Coca-Cola decided to change its 100-year formula. According to blind taste tests, Cola-Cola studied that customers favor the syrupier taste of Pepsi. On this regard, Coca-Cola decided to “improve” and produced "New Coke". It became a major advertising catastrophe. People didn't like this new improved formula and insisted the old one come back. After a while, "New Coke" was taken off the market.
Bic was required to say sorry and quickly remove its #HappyWomensDay ad on Facebook in South Africa in 2015, after the tagline ‘act like a lady, think like a man' caused social media uproar over its obvious chauvinist suggestions. This was not the first time Bic was blamed for sexist marketing. Its pink ‘for her' pens released in 2012, “designed to fit comfortably in a woman's hand”, was publicly condemned as disparaging and was also ridiculed by comedian, Ellen DeGeneres.
Businesses' strategic responses to advertisement flops
While the previous examples show how negative advertisements can be, many businesses' need to know how to react to criticism. Before deciding what to do, businesses must be prepared. They must be prepared to engage critics, know the facts of the situation, and confess if something has gone wrong. Research, however, offers conflicting opinions as to whether that negative situation is true, and there are anecdotes to support both sides. To prevent a bit of bad publicity from leading to negative reaction, respond with the tools required for each particular task.
When a business or corporation has bad publicity or receives criticism, a company must decide to react or be dormant about the situation. According to Seek Social Media (2013, April 30), an online blog about marketing, says that there are particular things a company should avoid such as ignoring the problem, deleting negative comments, justify the company's decision, and placate with a hollow apology. These types of comments disparage the consumers and implies that the large company doesn't care. Seek Social Media also points out that the best thing to do is to “Offer an apology and a solution.” After offering a solution, the author suggests that “when you deal with complaints effectively, disgruntled customers will tell their friends how awesome your company is and what great customer service you offer. And they'll encourage their friends to buy from you.” This shows that companies need to be good at successfully settling problems after receiving criticism.
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