Maybe it’s the current presidential election cycle that brings this out in people, but not liking a food ad picturing an alternative lifestyle and then carpet bombing a brand’s Facebook page with nasty comments isn’t going to force a brand to do anything. In fact, you might wind up getting mocked by others and just look foolish.
That kind of attention is a) possibly planned ahead of time and you’re falling into their diabolical scheme (muahahaha) or b) accidental, but they’ve committed to the ad with millions of dollars and there’s no way they’re going to back out because you left a diatribe comment on a social media stream.
There are politics on both sides here, from Chik-Fil-A to the most recent “Gay Dads” Campbell’s Soup spot. People are fighting back by dropping nasty comments on a brand’s Facebook page. Here’s why most marketing departments giggle gleefully when this happens instead of falling on the sword in front of their CEO.
- You’re driving traffic and brand awareness when you comment in social media, others see your comment and can check it out. Possibly others who don’t agree with your political point of view.
- It’s not effective. A lone wolf comment will ping off a brand’s Teflon coating with nary a scratch. These huge conglomerates with billions in sales don’t care about little ole you.
- They know their demographics. I doubt a brand has put out an ad with a political message without thoroughly testing it. Remember they have billions of dollars, blockbuster advertising budgets and they have a pretty good idea how this is going to play out before they ever record a single second of film.
Ridiculous, Extreme Example
First off, no I don’t believe anything of what I’m about to write. This is a silly example to make a point. McDonald’s often creates TV ads in Spanish for placement on Spanish-speaking outlets. They’ve been doing it for years, but here’s a possible reaction:
“Hey, McDonald’s how dare you make ads in Spanish! Clearly you support the illegal immigrants who don’t speak English in the great U.S. of A. I’m never going to buy a hamburger from you again! Trump is right, we need to build a wall to keep those people out!”
Twist the context and it looks ridiculous right? Let’s do something more effective.
Strategies that Actually Work
Effective strategies to try are:
- Stop buying their stuff. If the numbers go down the brand will take notice and correct course.
- Buy the other guy’s stuff. Want to raise an eyebrow at a brand not even in the fray? Go to their Facebook page and tell them you just bought a can of their delicious soup and you’re now a customer because you agree with their politics. That’ll get their marketing department talking and running scenarios.
- Write a blog post. Give your supporters a rallying point, it’s effective. Even if you don’t agree with Food Babe, she is the queen of making this strategy work.
Finally, diatribes aren’t as effective on social media as mocking. Mike Melgaard’s fake customer service accounts that mock angry comments create even more buzz. In fact, we conjectured Campbell’s hired him as part of the ad campaign strategy.
If politics, especially food politics, are important to you then take the time to find out about the brands in your pantry. If you support GMO labeling, don’t buy products with GMO corn. If you support the ethical treatment of animals, don’t buy factory farm eggs or meat. I’ve done a facepalm occasionally when a brand I liked turned out not to support my politics and without fanfare (or a social media announcement) I stopped buying that brand.
It’s a free country after all; brands can appeal to their niche, and you can opt out at any time. What do you think?
- Why the Food Movement Needs to Stay Positive
- When a Vegan Eats Meat, the crazy backlash of one woman blogger
- Foodie vs. Farmer: Are We at War?