In the agency campaign lifecycle, we have discussed researching campaign strategy, planning a media buy, and developing content and messaging for specific target audiences. But what happens when a client is involved in a controversy? Agencies must engage in damage control and effectively pivot the controversy away from the brand.
Brand crises can arise from a wide array of situations, from Carnival Cruise’s stranded cruise ship to outrage over racist remarks made by Clippers owner, Donald Sterling. Sometimes controversy can even arise from a poorly designed brand campaign, an error that can harm an agency’s reputation and business prospects. Even when the brand and agency are not the source of the crises, they are responsible for protecting their branding and marketing efforts. Crisis management is vital for agencies to protect brand image, ensure the success of their campaigns, and boost renewals and new business.
One way that agencies can take control of the situation is through targeted campaigns that focus consumer attention on a positive brand message instead of the negative publicity circulating in the news and on the web. A strong, positive campaign is exactly what was needed to combat the domestic abuse scandal that tarnished CoverGirl’s NFL sponsorship and brand identity.
Fortunately, an agency strategy built with ForSight analysis can combat any controversy accurately and efficiently. For instance, an analysis of the NFL scandal in mid-September uses volume and sentiment measures to pinpoint where and when social media users were talking about the scandal. While there is a spike in NFL conversation, the CoverGirl conversation increases dramatically. Conversation rises from several hundred Tweets per day to over 4,000 on September 16th. Overall, roughly 9,000 Tweets were written about CoverGirl’s NFL sponsorship.
Pairing Top Hashtags with a Word Cloud highlights how the NFL scandal took over the CoverGirl conversation, moving from topics of conversation from customers’ favorite products to protesting domestic abuse and reacting to a shocking photoshopped CoverGirl advertisement.
People talking about CoverGirl in relation to the NFL share a variety of interests that separate them from the general Twitter audience. Not surprisingly, Affinities suggests that they are interested in politics, sports, and beauty. For instance, they are 30 times more interested in feminism, 7 times more interested in social justice, and 19 times more interested in NFL Network than the general Twitter audience. However, they have roughly the same interest in fashion and beauty. These interests suggest that the conversation extends past the CoverGirl customer audience which is generally separated from the general Twitter audience via interests related to makeup. This observation is supported by the fact that the conversation is almost equally divided between men (46%) and women (54%), another feature that is surprising for a cosmetics brand.
Agencies can use these insights to refocus brand conversation and prevent controversy from diminishing the success of campaign and branding efforts. The explosion in CoverGirl conversation presented a conundrum for agency social analysts charged with monitoring conversation and and keeping customers happy. Fortunately, those engaged in the conversation surrounding the controversy were not necessarily current or potential CoverGirl customers. Affinities highlights a mix of interests that are distinct from the normal CoverGirl audience. Similarly, although the conversation exploded at the height of the controversy, the hype did not last for long. Lasting for only a week and a half, the CoverGirl agency does not have to worry about a prolonged conversation that is a persistent threat to the current advertising campaign.
However, as social media users increasingly embellish their conversations with images, gifs, and videos, the viral photoshopped CoverGirl advertisement will not fade from consumers’ minds quickly. Although CoverGirl customers may not have made up the majority of the participants in the NFL conversation, it is likely that they encountered the photoshopped image on social media.
An agency must take this content into account when creating a response to the controversy and devising future campaigns. A message of beauty and strength will resonate with current customers as well as those who were angered by CoverGirl’s affiliation with the NFL and the domestic abuse controversy.
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