Marketing Lessons from PR Fails In 2016

Every year organizations and corporate bodies execute what they consider to be the perfect advertising and PR campaigns that captures the essence of their brand.

Sometimes, it is successful, and other times, it turns out to be a huge mistake; one which at best embarrasses the company, and at worst results in huge loss of revenue from negative publicity or even a law suit.

Here a few indigenous and international PR fails from the last couple of years, and what brands and advertising agencies can learn from them;

In the year 2014, mobile telecommunications giant in Nigeria, MTN’s Mama Na Boy television commercial caused an uproar of sorts when a section of the populace who were advocates of gender rights kicked against the seeming elevation of the male gender above their female counterparts.

2015 saw Bic South Africa having to apologize for its Women’s Day message which basically asked women to “look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man, and work like a boss.”

Fast forward to 2016, one major brand crisis that many would never forget was the one surrounding the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 which was reported to catch fire while charging due to overheating batteries.

If the fire incidents reported were at first seen as a manufacturing defect, it soon evolved into a full blown PR crisis because Samsung appeared to have underestimated the magnitude of the problem by continuing production initially.

Samsung’s failure to adequately assess the situation to know that it should discontinue that production line immediately and treat as urgent the reports of the incidences projected the brand as an uncaring brand that does not prioritize customer’s safety.

The tab that was created on its website to notify customers of the issue was inconspicuous and easy to miss. The North Korean company also issued a recall of the Galaxy Note 7 without following the guidelines of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

A combination of a lack of pro-activity and miscommunication only served to ensure that the mobile division’s bottom line declined by a whopping 96%, and of course did its brand reputation no good.

Samsung didn’t have to find itself in the position it eventually did. All the company needed to do was immediately issue a definitive statement of the state of things, and assure users of the brands commitment to their safety and that it was working earnestly to resolve the problem.

The brand should also have been careful to put out the right information. This would have saved it some embarrassment and served to let consumers view the brand as one which was firmly in control of the situation.

The “misadventure” of Samsung in handling the Galaxy Note 7 is a great lesson not just for telecommunications companies but other brands too in being proactive when it comes to managing an unexpected crisis.

Preparedness to handle and a crisis, honesty and effective communication remain key ingredients in marketing and PR.

It’s safe to say the boy’s scout slogan “Be prepared” is one that every brand should adopt.