When Poor Execution Outweighs Good Intentions

Every company wants to be noticed/famous/talked about. Sometimes, however, in their haste to go viral, the campaign can backfire in a big way.  Take clothing company, Revolve, for example.  They recently decided to launch some very edgy sweatshirts on their site to bring awareness to online trolling.  But a few things went VERY wrong. 

First, Revolve fully intended to explain and promote the campaign, but someone at the company put the sweatshirts online two days early.  Not good.  Second, Revolve has already recently had issues with inclusivity in the size and diversity of their models.  So, who do they have wearing a shirt that mocks obesity as an excuse?  That’s right – a thin Caucasian.  Talk about not listening to your consumers’ feedback.  Now, to be fair to Revolve, I truly believe they had good intentions with this campaign.  The intention was to take five actual horrible quotes people had posted online to shine a light on how damaging social media bullying can be and all proceeds were set to benefit the worthy charity Girls Write Now, which mentors young women and helps them express themselves through writing.  Good idea – terrible execution.  The quotes take up almost the entire shirt with a small twitter symbol and handle at the bottom showing whom this terrible quote was directed towards.  So even with a proper launch, the design on these was just never going to fly.

So, what’s an advertiser to do when it seems like landmines are everywhere? 

First, don’t let your desire to get noticed outweigh good sense.  It’s not true that any publicity is good publicity.  Not in this day and age of immediate social backlash and boycotts.  Better to be safe than sorry.  But for the brave souls that do try to go viral?  Make sure you aren’t just running these ideas by people just like you or those who want to please you.  Have a very diverse group look over your ads and allow them confidential feedback if necessary (no one likes to disagree with the boss.)  Make sure you are asking a variety of ages, ethnicities, body types, political leanings, etc. based on your ad and creative ideas.  Any agency worth its price tag will help you look around these corners and determine if the risk is worth the reward.  And last, if in doubt, just don’t.