Marketing Disasters

How a lack of empathy can cause your ad to fail miserably

What’s worse than an ad that doesn’t get much attention? An ad that gets brutally negative attention. Yes, there is a such thing as bad publicity, and it can have an impact that hurts your brand financially.

Yesterday, only 24 hours after Kobe’s death, Sony posted a photo on Instagram about the launch of their new camera, along with a handful of basketball players and the caption in large letters: “Most Valuable Player.” 


Sony’s post on Instagram on Monday, January 27, 2020, the day after Kobe’s death

What does the new camera have to do with basketball, and the MVP? More importantly, why is this being posted right after the death of another MVP? I completely understand ads are created way ahead of time, and this specific could have been scheduled days or weeks ahead. But the people or person in charge, especially within a large company of Sony, should have had the foresight to understand it was “cheap.” 

It’s insensitive if it appears you’re trying to make money off of someone’s (immediate) death. Luckily for Sony, a couple of comments pointed out to the bad timing, and Sony removed the post.

We also remember the Pepsi and Kendal Jenner ad campaign a few years ago. It was supposed to be a hit, and some while reviewing the ad, don’t see much wrong with it. But at that time, at the height of protests of police brutality, a millionaire instagram model skipping across the street to hand an officer a soda, seemingly ending all tension and hostility, seemed insensitive and silly. The outrage was so high that Pepsi apparently agreed, yanking the ad completely, losing millions they spent on the entire campaign. 

So what it comes down to is, does your ad exhibit empathy? If you’re not sure, you may need to hire an empathy specialist. Shoot me an email, I can help you with that too.

Have any questions? Write your comments below or message me directly.

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