Blog Header
The Insights Blog

Dedicated To Helping Readers
Be More Interesting
Since 2004.

As Featured In:

Got Controversy? Why Your Brand Needs One Today

A recently released book that I contributed to asked the question with it’s subtitle, "why don’t they get it?" It’s a fitting question today, as brands are often divided into those that understand the power of conversation and those that don’t. Slowly, however, brands are adding their names to the ranks of those that get it. Dell and Comcast are often being praised as two shining examples due to their willingness to have a conversation with customers and actively use of social media tools.

There is one fact, however, that is often forgot. Both of those brands first entered into using social media out of necessity. More importantly, they started after major brand controversies. Dell had to reinvent their reputation after Dell Hell, and Comcast had to combat the incredibly damaging Technician Sleeping On The Couch video. Similar to the natural phenomenon of some forests needing fire so they can properly burn and new seeds can be released, evolving brand communications seems sometimes to adhere to a similar pattern.

Here are a few reasons why having a brand controversy may be your company’s best hope to reinvent itself and start to embrace social media tools that initially seem new and scary:

  1. Forces you to listen fast. Relying on daily or weekly media clips is no longer fast enough in a crisis. This means your team will need to start adopting social media tools to listen faster out of necessity. This skill will remain in the team, causing them to more actively monitor social media in the future.
  2. Understand the real power of individual voices. Before seeing a crisis start from a single blogger or an errant tweet, it is difficult to describe the real power that a seemingly small time content creator can have. After a crisis breaks, it becomes easy to explain this point.
  3. Demonstrate to managers why social media matters. This may be one of the biggest struggles marketers face, namely convincing their bosses that social media matters enough to dedicate time and budget to it. Having a crisis and using as well as showing the power of the tools offers a tangible example of why it is worth resourcing and budgeting.
  4. Identify key influencers. Often in a crisis, the key influencers in a particular category that have the power to influence thousands if not hundreds of thousands will emerge. If marketers are paying attention, they can start to understand where the pockets of influence really are, and how to influence them.

As I write this post, there is another brand that is rapidly confronting its own brand crisis. Motrin released an ad that was immediately denounced by mom bloggers and social media types as offensive. The controversy really started through public reaction on social media and is now growing beyond those confines. I believe that this may well be the greatest opportunity ever to face the marketing team for Motrin. They now have the ear of everyone in their organization and the chance to do what few Over-the-Counter medications would ever have dared to do otherwise … embrace using social media. The #motrinmoms controversy is a huge chance for the brand to reinvent its communications. The only question is whether they will take advantage of it or not.

5 thoughts on “Got Controversy? Why Your Brand Needs One Today”

  1. pity the big company that doesn’t get caught in a flare up like this in the next year or two. They won’t know they are becoming irrelevant

    I can imagine boards meeting now, looking at news of Dell Hell and Motrin discussing how they have been “safe” by staying off the web.

    HA!

    Reply
  2. Regarding Motrin, it was so wrong of them to get so involved in social media. It definitly backfired and they learnt their lesson the hard way. Clearly, pharmaceuticals getting involved in social media the way Motrin did (Twitter account, blog etc…) makes them loose their ‘expert edge’. I don’t want my doctor to get too personal with me for the same reasons.
    Good post Rohit, I’m glad that you brought up the point that everyone shouldn’t get involved in social media. However, too many should get involved but haven’t.

    Reply
  3. Interesting post. But how do you suggest that Motrin “embrace” social media? Start a twitter? Facebook page? None of this will resolve the stupid, one-time error made by Motrin’s agency.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Vector Smart Object

About Rohit

A keynote speaker on trends, innovation, marketing, storytelling and diversity.

Rohit Bhargava is on a mission to inspire more non-obvious thinking in the world. He is the #1 Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of eight books and is widely considered one of the most entertaining and original speakers on disruption, trends and marketing in the world.

Rohit has been invited to keynote events in 32 countries … and over the past year, given more than 100 virtual talks from his home studio. He previously spent 15 years as a marketing strategist at Ogilvy and Leo Burnett and also teaches marketing and storytelling as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.

He loves the Olympics, actively hates cauliflower and is a proud dad of boys.

Rohit Bhargava About (1)

Speaking

Do you need a speaker that can help your audience be more innovative and anticipate the future?

For more than a decade, Rohit Bhargava has been inspiring audiences at NASA, Disney, Schwab, Microsoft, SXSW, Coca-Cola and hundreds of other clients with his signature non-obvious keynote presentations. He is a master at weaving recent stories into his talks in a way that helps audiences better understand the world today, while also preparing to lead the future.

Non Obvious Insights
Layer 97
Non Obvious Insights Newsletter
Layer 118

Skip the obvious and anticipate the future with our weekly newsletter. Join over 25,000 subscribers and start receiving the stories (and insights) you’ve been missing.

Books

#1 WSJ & USAToday Bestselling Author

Rohit is the author of 8 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.

Vector Smart Object

Contact

Have a Question or Inquiry?

Just fill out this form, and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours!

About You

What Are You Contacting Us About*:

Your Message