You don’t know me from Adam, I know. And I recognize that you may never see or respond to this letter and that’s okay by me (really, it’s okay, especially after the headache you’ve been given). What I am about to blog about here is probably something you don’t want to hear about any more…but, please, I ask that you hear me out.
I came to learn about your situation on Monday morning and at first I thought, yes, these moms have every right to be annoyed and here we are again with another great case study on our hands. But, the more I read, the more I commented and the more I thought about it, the more annoyed I got with it all.
I think you and your team did an outstanding job in addressing the situation as it percolated, but I am disappointed in you too. Why? Because you took down your advertising campaign, a campaign that has been running successfully since September 30th (Source: AdAge). I am sure this was a well-thought out campaign led by a bright and experienced team. And it’s obviously a campaign that cost a lot of money.
This was not a social media campaign, but a traditional marketing campaign that was unfortunately brought down by a few moms that blog and that have voices stronger than the average mom because of their use of Web 2.0 tools. But, what about those other moms, the ones without an immediate and viral voice don’t they get a say? There are moms that don’t blog and that use baby holders, backpacks, slings, etc. because they are convenient and necessary for being hands-free. And, maybe, just maybe they do think they look like a ‘cool, hip mom.’ Maybe they were thinking “Finally! Someone who gets what I go through every day and knows my back hurts like hell at 8pm! I DO need relief.” Who knows…of course, that’s all pure speculation on my part.
But here’s the thing I really want to address. To me, what happened to your brand was akin to someone yelling fired in a theater and people getting trampled. And I really don’t want to see it happen again.
Companies are afraid to dip their toe in the social media waters as it is…now they are going to be afraid to do a traditional marketing campaign for fear of having to pull it all. How do you explain that to the Board in these economic times?
My thoughts, pure and simple, for what they’re worth…
- Yes, listen to your audience (and I am sure you do). But, when they come swarming out of nowhere like Africanized bees, question the motives before making any moves.
- After putting a lot of elbow grease, time, money and research into a campaign (traditional or social media), don’t pull it just to appease the minority over the majority; especially if your research tells you otherwise.
- Don’t use Twitter for primary research. While I respect Peter Shankman, I don’t agree with that bit of advice. Twitter is too limited, too slanted and too untested for research. It’s good for a pulse check, agreed.
- Don’t think that all of us bloggers are the same. There are some that abuse the power of their voice and that damages the credibility of the rest.
- Be confident enough to make a stand if you don’t agree with the backlash. Use it as an opportunity for conversation and a chance to have your voice heard too.
- Social media is indeed your friend during a communications crisis.
- Use this as a learning lesson; we all will be joining you.
And finally, I’ll end with this…if you are considering releasing staff or your agency from their contract over this snafu, PLEASE reconsider that notion. Think back and evaluate every step that the team made to get to September 30, the date when you were proud and excited about this campaign launching. Think about the last six weeks when this campaign was running without issue. (I mention this not because I think that’s what you will do, but as a marketer this situation strikes fear into my very core and I empathize with my fellow marketers).
Thank you for your time.
P.S. It is not my intention to capitalize on this situation or to cause J&J more damage. In that regard I have not utilized any links, product names, tags, keywords or SEO with this post that relate to to topic at hand. As you know, I cannot control natural search, sharing or trackbacks/pingbacks. My sole intention was to provide support to you and your team and share my thoughts (with my community as well).