We’ve all heard the notion “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”. It’s the idea that since you’re getting coverage, it doesn’t matter what’s said but just as long as you’re relevant. It’s not based on the content or subject matter, just the fact your brand was mentioned.We’ve seen this theory in action with celebrities who profit off their controversy. Take Lindsay Lohan for example, entertainment sites report daily on her ups-and-downs. But it doesn’t matter how much “bad publicity” she receives, Lohan manages to get guest spots on TV shows, movie roles and keeps everyone gossiping about her.But fascination with celebrities is the exception. If we applied this “bad publicity” theory to brands or organizations they wouldn’t stand a chance.Take Abercrombie and Fitch, the company’s CEO, Mike Jeffries, made controversial remarks in a 2006 interview about marketing to “cool, good-looking thin people” only and not manufacturing sizes for plus-sized women. These statements recently went viral, and the backlash from media and the public was overwhelming.
Not only were people using social media to voice their opinion, but it also affected Abercrombie and Fitch’s U.S sales, which fell 17 per cent. Even though Jeffries has issued an apology, the damage is done.
Reputation is everything and when there’s scandal, you can bet the media will be there to report it.
Take a look at the controversy surrounding Lance Armstrong’s doping allegations. His response to the USADA’s case resulted in his loss of cycling titles, multi-million dollar sponsorships and his role at the Livestrong Foundation. But what’s been affected most is his reputation and brand.
The examples of how negative publicity has affected brands are endless; bad publicity is real threat. Over time the harm done may die down, but ultimately it leaves a mark. One thing is true, people and brands will always face this risk.
What do you think? Do you believe that all publicity is good publicity?