It’s been a busy week for business bashing. Firstly bug spray company Mortein published a Facebook post featuring the character Louie, putting his vest out in support of the Stephanie Scott social media movement #PutYourDressOut.
Then Woolworths launched it’s ANZAC campaign using the tagline #Freshinourmemories. Cue collective face palms across the country and uproar in the media.
It’s easy to get caught up in the company onslaught and finger wagging…’what were the businesses thinking?’ Not just in the rhetorical sense, but really, why did they think they could join these national conversations? Let’s explore. In marketing, it’s critical to understand your target audiences, what they’re talking about and what is important to them. It’s equally important to identify and recognise the boundaries. And yes, there are boundaries. As a company, there is a time and a place to engage with your consumers and as long as that is adhered to, there’s no reason we can’t be in this for the long haul. If a business looks like it’s using a topical yet irrelevant news story or theme to promote itself for commercial gain then the conversation gets awkward quickly. Of course the nation is affected by both the Stephanie Scott murder and the plight of the ANZACS but unless a company is integrally involved or directly relevant, then the best strategy is to listen and watch respectfully from the sidelines.
Both topics are highly emotive and sensitive, a difficult arena to enter. That’s not to say we should shy away from difficult conversations as marketing professionals, but rather that we should only have them if they are relevant. Is the topic relevant to your company and what it does? If not then a company should know its place. It might be relevant to your consumers but there’s a difference between relevancy to your consumers and relevancy to your company, sometimes there’s crossover, sometimes there’s not. Both Woolworths and Mortein experienced a public backlash for joining a conversation to which the companies weren’t invited.
With a media rich landscape, there are so many news stories, trends and conversations happening that companies these days have the luxury to cherry pick what to be a part of and more importantly where their voice can add value. It’s not a case of jumping on every bandwagon and shouting from the rooftops. Knowing when to speak and when to listen is key. Sometimes it pays to remember that silence can be golden.