Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Should Brands Include Negative Comments in Their Campaigns?

Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Should Brands Include Negative Comments in Their Campaigns?

Article excerpt

In a high-risk, but potentially ground-breaking move, First Direct is rolling out ads that include both positive and negative comments made by customers about the bank's services on online forums.

NO - TOM HINGS, DIRECTOR BRAND MARKETING, ROYAL MAIL

All the talk nowadays is of openness. Whether it is a blog, a Twitter feed or a Facebook page, brands are encouraged to adopt self-flagellation as a default.

Maintaining honest dialogue with customers through interactive media is, of course, vital, but making broadcast ads about it is a little odd.

On the plus side, I guess it could look like a mature and responsible stance to take, or potentially be an amusing position for a niche brand to adopt (one is reminded of the ''I never read The Economist.' Management trainee, 42.' poster as perhaps the most successful example of this contrary strategy).

However, for mass-market brands, the strategy is problematic. What am I meant to think of suggestions that you have let some customers down?

Moreover, in a world of scarce resources, why would I not spend every penny of my shareholders' money on promoting the reasons why people should and do love the brand, or at the very least the improvements that I may be making to work even harder to earn people's custom?

YES - IVAN CROXFORD, GENERAL MANAGER, DIGITAL MARKETING SERVICES, BT BUSINESS

Companies are constantly reviewing their marketing campaigns and experimenting with new tactics for maximum impact or to engage more openly with consumers.

The publication of customer comments, both positive and negative, is already happening across the digital-media landscape. No business can escape the instant dissemination of customer feedback across the internet.

This sort of peer-to-peer communication can make or break a brand, product or service, so a social media strategy is now an essential part of the marketing mix.

Soliciting and publishing feedback, even if it is negative, is a vital way of improving customer perceptions and company performance. There is now a fine line between conventional marketing and individual conversations with consumers.

Transparency in this new world of digital engagement is both a virtue and a necessity, as customer service and marketing become more symbiotic.

NO - SCOTT JEFFERSON, CUSTOMER AND MARKETING DIRECTOR, GREGGS

There is something to be said for being honest and transparent, particularly in these internet days when the brand is increasingly owned by the consumer rather than the company. …

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