FACING DOWN THE MOB
How do you balance a brand in an era of instant offence?
In an era of instant offence and guilt by association, how far should brands go to pacify product and campaign critics? Too far, in some cases
Have companies gone too far in bowing to consumers’ demands? Has social media distorted marketing so much that common sense and ordinary values have given way to the voice of the mob? Or to a single, strident individual? Barely a week goes by without a brand apologising for a marketing mistake, real or perceived. Woolworths withdrew a Valentine’s Day advertising campaign this year after critics accused it of gender stereotyping and failing to consider gay and transgender customers. In the UK, retail chain Waitrose recently removed a dark-chocolate duckling called "Ugly" from its shelves after protesters deemed it racist. Presumably they were unaware of the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale in which an ugly duckling turns into a beautiful swan. Also in the UK, London transport authorities have banned an ad showing a bowl of strawberries and cream after complaints from anti-obesity campaigners. Elsewhere, Gucci halted production of a black poloneck with a mouth cut into the neck (so w...