Sometimes Clever isn’t Clever

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    Going risqué can quickly create a need for crisis management

    The world of advertising gives us quite a bit of fodder, probably because those in the biz are constantly trying to draw a reaction from the public. The danger there is that it’s quite easy to go too far, putting a company’s reputation at risk.

    For example, just after New Zealand’s Parliament approved same-sex marriage, beer brewer Tui put up a billboard reading:

    “Dad’s new husband seems nice.”

    “Yeah right.”

    Now, the “Yeah right” slogan is part of a decades-long campaign of Tui’s, but insulted gay rights activists didn’t think it was funny, and quickly flooded Tui’s Facebook page with negative comments.

    Asked for his take on the issue, Bernstein Crisis Management president Jonathan Bernstein offered up the following quip to’s Matt Wilson:

    Sometimes being clever isn’t clever. This was a totally preventable crisis, because even the tiniest bit of market research would have predicted a negative reaction by a significant number of people.

    Regardless of what type of messaging you’re putting out, whether it’s advertising, crisis communications, or anything else, you absolutely must put yourself in the shoes of the recipients, thinking, “how could this upset people?” If the answers come pouring in, it’s time to reconsider.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]