Recently, there are many controversial public relation news came from large corporations like United Airline, Pepsi Co., Adidas, and Nivea. Large corporations usually have the brightest employees, most updated information, and highly competitive service/product within their industry. However, it seemed like they are destroying their reputation with bad public relation acts. As return, they received a lot of media attention and outrage in the digital media. And here’s the question: are they (Pepsi, Adidas, and Nivea) doing these in purpose to receive media attention since they have a strong, loyal customer base already?
Internet users who kept an eye in recent news most likely had heard about the incident of United Airline beat up and dragged a random passenger off their plane, or even saw meme/comedy video poking fun of United Airline’s service. The plane was overly booked but no one wanted to leave the plane even rewards are offered. Then, the crew randomly beat up one of the passenger and threw him out of the plane.
In the age of social media, news like this can be spread quickly. Right after the incident, United’s stock value dropped about $255 millions. At this moment, United should have think of a way gain back their stock value or do a positive public relation campaign. But instead, the CEO of United Airline made a reluctant public apology and a scorpion was found on one of the plane’s seat later. Do employees of United still care about their company? There are many ways to deal with such situation other than beating up a passenger and like hundreds of millions stock value in one day.
This Pepsi advertisement brought a lot of rage to the internet. In the advertisement, there’s a crowd of young protester protesting for peace. Then, a camerawoman, a model, and a musician stopped their work and joined the protest. During the protest, there are two hip hop dancers performing in the street too. In the end, the protesters marched to a line of policemen and the model handed a can of Pepsi to one of the policeman and the camerawoman took a picture of that scene. Then all protesters started to celebrate and cheer. At the same time, the “protest” looks more like a parade than a protest since most of the protesters seem to be smiling and joyful.
This ad borrowed imagery from the Black Live Matter movement, but the BLM movement wasn’t cheerful and harmless as this Pepsi commercial, tension between protesters and police was high. And for sure, there weren’t happy faces and hip hop dancers performances in the middle of the protest. Hence this ad offended young people whether they supported or against the BLM movement, and those young people is Pepsi’s target market.
“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout.” Pepsi’s response to the outrage.
Pepsi is one of the largest company in the world and it should have a sharp market research team that collects the most updated data and make informative charts and graphs about their customers’ demographics. Even they don’t, the marketers should have heard about recent political protests. At last, why are these energetic, cheerful young people protesting? Would it make more sense if they are partying instead? It is unbelievable of how Pepsi created a such low quality advertisement. Or, Pepsi simply wanted to make a controversial commercial so the whole internet is going to talk about them.
Adidas, a well known international sports wear company made a bad public relation impression by sending emails to customers about “surviving the Boston Marathon” who participated in the 2017 Boston Marathon a few days ago.Also, the Boston Marathon bombing only happened four years ago. That event caused three deaths, hundreds of injuries, and possibly still a traumatizing event for the participants and local Bostonians.
Joking about terrible experiences happened to someone is never funny, nor appropriate in most situations. But yet, an international corporation is can’t find a better email headline other than violating a basic code of ethics in daily lives.
Nivea, a German skin and body care company, released a highly controversial advertisement campaign. Their “White is Purity” campaign is probably the most controversial advertisement campaign in 2017 so far. In the advertisement, it shows a white woman wearing a white dress sitting in a white room looking at the bright window. The whole image looks clean and refreshing but it has the “White is Purity” text in the bottom of the image. In addition, Nivea tweeted, “Keep it clean, keep bright. Don’t let anything ruin it, #invisible” for this ad.
The advertisement and the tweet sound like subliminal white supremacist messages. It sounds like white people shouldn’t interact with other races because the other races will contaminate their purity. In now day, white and black no longer mean the color, but also representing different races and cultures. In fact, businesses are being more sensitive on race issues to prevent lawsuits and not to offend others, but Nivea seemed to neglected this factor and wouldn’t be attracting many customers who find this ad offensive shortly.
When a public figures or a companies act controversially, they receive attention from the media. Newspapers, bloggers, or anyone with access to the internet will talk about them. If large corporations created an amazing advertisement that doesn’t offend anyone, the mass will have little or no reaction to the company, perhaps attracts a few customers. In the other hand, if they created a controversial advertisement, everyone will be talking about them. In the point of spreading the word, they did it successfully. Even the news is negative, the loyal customers won’t leave easily. If these companies deliberately create controversial advertisements only to trigger the mass, their loyal customers will continue to backup for them. It is like these corporations have an endless supply of money and can do anything they want in the public.