Crisis communication: from bad buzz to good buzz 👊

Bad buzz is THE terror of brands! 😱 How, as communicators, can we best protect the reputation of our companies? Le website has transformed, in recent years with the Social networks, in real court. Consumers, opinion groups andinfluence, or the ex-collaborators are uncompromising judges. And unfortunately, a brand can quickly end up on the dock. 

However, do not panic! A bad buzz can be a good lesson in communication, and why not lead to a good buzz ... The whole thing lies in the reaction capacity of the Communication team, which must be immediate and targeted. 🎯

The team We Are COM deciphers here the worst bad buzz and the best good buzz of recent years. We also provide you with good practices and tips to avoid, or if necessary counter, any public lynching. 

👎 TOP 5 BAD BUZZ - When you hurt yourself!

# 1 - Nocibé, when the marketing director gets out of hand

The cosmetics brand did not know where to go following a shameful slippage by its marketing director. The latter indeed had the bad idea to attack the Franco-Moroccan radio columnist Yassine Belattar on social networks, calling him "Islamic rot" ... Just that! ❌ We let you imagine the reactions that such appalling behavior may have aroused. The dismissal of the employee at the origin of the controversy is required. The company has still not fully recovered from this virulent bad buzz dating back to February 2019. 

#2 - The French Slip, when two marketing employees (them again!) Slip up

In January 2020, two employees of the French lingerie company posted photos of “black faces” on social networks, obviously causing immediate controversy. Racist clichés are spotted and relayed by a very influential Instagram account: “Let's decolonize”. The indignant are mobilizing behind the #boycottslipfrançais. Despite a strong reactivity, with the publication of two press releases, the brand takes for its rank. Already in 2019, the web denounced the lack of diversity within the company's teams ... 😟 

#3- Tim Hortons, when the free doesn't pass

☕️ Last year, finding it smart to surf on the English news of the "brexit" and the royal family, with the affair of the departure of Prince Harry and Meghan, the Canadian coffee shop brand Tim Hortons launches out in the "Newsjacking". The idea (not so ingenious)? Guarantee free coffees for life to the young couple. The Tim Hortons brand tweets so : "No pressure, Meghan and Harry, but if you decide to move to Canada, free coffee for life. Think about it!"

The web ignites and immediately accuses the fast food company of giving an absurd financial advantage to people who absolutely do not need it. Many Internet users also denounce the too low salaries of employees. AIE Aie Aie… 

# 4 - Abercrombie & Fitch, when a brand stands out too much

Grossophobia, this is what has been criticized against the American ready-to-wear giant. In 2013, a first bad buzz degraded the notoriety of the clothing brand. Indeed, the President affirms that the proposed clothes are not made for fat people, but for "cool people". Results ? Consumers are outraged and turnover plummets, with a drop of more than 15% in just a few weeks. 📉

Immediately, the Communication teams manage the crisis and set up advertising campaigns featuring strong people. However, the effect produced was not what had been expected, further aggravating the situation. The web lynching has picked up again. 

Never two without three: the President of the brand also asserted, a few years ago, that his stocks of unsold clothes were burned rather than given to needy people, who did not deserve to wear his brand. 

#5 - Lego, when the game gets violent

💣 A bad bet for this giant of children's toys, which in July 2020 decided to market a plastic replica of a Boeing V-22. However, this aircraft happened to be a warship used in particular in Yemen and Mali. Very quickly the controversy developed, under the slogan " we love bricks, not war! ". NGOs and peaceful associations are crying scandal. Following numerous petitions and protests, the brand is forced to apologize publicly and withdraw its product from sale. 

👍 TOP 5 GOOD BUZZ - When you get up!

#1 - Numericable, when a dumpling pays off

Yes, the bad buzz can be intentional, creating high visibility for the brand surfing a sensitive topic. 👀 This is what the telephone operator did by imagining a provoking advertising campaign for the launch of its fiber offer in 2014: “ download as fast as your wife changes her mind. The court of the net rebels in front of such misogyny. The brand retorts with a second campaign: “ download as fast as your husband forgets his promises. And it works. 

Numericable campaigns

#2 - La Redoute, when an inattentive error turns into an opportunity

Remember, in 2012, the French fashion house launched a marketing campaign for children's clothing. However, in the background of a visual of the website of the e-commerce brand, we saw a naked man… Internet users jump on this ball and take offense. The brilliant response from the Communication team at the time? Offer hidden error games to find on its website. A response with humor and a interaction direct with Internet users, this is a well-managed crisis! 🎗 

La Redoute campaign

#3 - Honey Maid, when an advertisement becomes a commitment to tolerance

🙏In 2014, the overseas cookie maker Honey Maid produced a poster featuring a family whose parental couple was homosexual. the slogan, referring both to the product and to the protagonists, was: " This is Wholesome », Translate« It's clean ". This makes conservative associations scream. The company is accused by the latter of encouraging sin. Honey Maid's response? A Youtube video advocating tolerance values, generating thousands of views, and generating a strong brand affinity with a large number of targets. 

#4 - Protein World, the deeper you go, the more you go up

Protein World, a company specializing in weight loss, has come under attack on social media after advertising campaigns featuring a woman with the perfect body (and completely retouched, by the way). These were accompanied by the slogan " Are you beach body ready? », Translate« Is your body ready for summer? ". Faced with many negative reactions, and the posting of petitions demanding the immediate withdrawal of the campaign, the brand of dietary supplements is not giving up. She will even take the game with humor.

Protein World Campaign

First of all, a post on social media will call feminists "terrorists." In addition, the teams will respond assiduously to messages on the web, thus offering a Internet users to "grow a little". Still further in “bodyshaming”? Yes, but it works: followers are multiplying very quickly and Protein World would have won over 300 new customers as a result of this experience. At the very least, they fueled a social debate! 🤔

#5 - Ryanair, when the bad buzz recalls the good plan

Indeed, the President of the airline lowcost accumulates controversial outings: " overweight people will have to pay more "," the toilets will be more free "," armchairs will become a paying option »… So, even if it annoys you, these unexpected positions remind you above all indirectly that this company is not going to ruin you. The subliminal idea? We treat you badly for a few hours, but we challenge you to find cheaper! 😉

Checklist: our good practices a priori

✅ The We Are COM team shares tips with you to never find yourself in a crisis communication situation. OK, sometimes this is unavoidable, however we can greatly reduce the negative impact by sticking to this checklist! 

  • > A diligent watch : never let go, watch your brand like milk on the fire. Also keep an eye on your competition. 
  • > Highly targeted visibility : always be present where your audiences are, especially on the web. Regarding the strategy editorial digital, define it beforehand and constantly ask yourself the question of respecting it, in order to ensure optimal publications.
  • > Flawless interaction : at a time of the social media boom, be responsive in your interactions. If a customer calls out to you, make a point of giving them a quick response. 
  • > An always serious Press Relations department : make sure that the Press relations always maintain a close bond of trust with average. A good relationship will prevent the publication of unverified information, which has not been certified by the company beforehand. 
  • > Un internal to top : pamper and expose it always more. Satisfied employees are great assets to your notoriety. 

To-do-list: our good practices a posteriori

🆘 The bad buzz could not be avoided? However, we should not let ourselves be defeated! Good management of this crisis situation will get you out of this bad patch. So what is the process?

  • > Always stand by : everything can happen. In order not to panic, regularly audit the potential risks and above all be prepared to react to any eventuality, for example by preparing on-hold messages for each distribution channel used to date by your brand. 
  • > Ultra-fast reaction : the capacity that you will have to react quickly will allow the crisis situation not to become more serious. You have to know how to stop it in the cradle. 
  • > The ostrich strategy should be banned : after a bad buzz, avoid acting as if nothing had happened, this will discredit you even more. So suspend pre-programmed publications and campaigns that are being launched. Concentrate exclusively on your hot file, then on returning to normal, watching for a possible resumption of the fire!
  • > The internal should not be sidelined : redouble communication actions with company employees, so that the situation does not escape you too much and does not affect the morale of the troops. 
  • > Humility is the key : know how to do your mea culpa if necessary, make you human in the eyes of the indignant. They will forgive you more easily and move on to another current issue more quickly. 

Bad buzz happens. Good buzz is possible. To stay in a positive attitude, let's go crazy and quote Bob Marley (unexpected no?): “If there is a problem, there is a solution. If there is no solution, then there is no problem.”🙏

Leave comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *