Whiplash Team, 17th February , 2023

Protect brand reputation

An agile, effective and precise communication strategy is crucial to protect brand reputation in critical situations.

Managing communication effectively and efficiently is always important in a crisis. Whether it is a pandemic, such as the one experienced during 2020 and 2021 with COVID-19, a natural disaster or any other similar situation. Offering precise information, quickly, helps build trust and allay fears.

In the case of brands, agile, honest and effective communication management in the face of a crisis can avoid irreparable damage to their reputation. In addition, one must be aware of the nature of the situations that can affect or compromise the trust of users of a brand, that are many.

On the other hand, the growing importance of interaction between users on social networks is a factor of pressure on brands. They must act quickly, offer accurate information and an adequate response to solve the crisis. In any case, silence is never the best strategy.

An unassertive campaign and a quick response

Advertising is a powerful tool. For this reason, creatives must carefully evaluate the context in which a campaign is launched. The ‘No toques mis Donettes’ (Don’t touch my Donettes) campaign, launched in 2011 in Spain, is a good example of this.

During the worst of the economic crisis that affected Spain between 2008 and 2014, the brand launched this campaign that played with the idea of not sharing the well-known buns.

The messages printed on the packages included slogans such as “Asking can seriously damage our friendship” or “I share my body, not my donettes.” The trigger for the crisis, which began due to the criticism of a user on Twitter, was the phrase “A pedir, al metro” that could be translated as “To beg, go to the Undergroud.”

The phrase generated all kinds of criticism on social networks and consequently the hashtag #boycottDonettes went viral.

In this case, Donettes’ speed of response was crucial in handling the crisis. The brand quickly responded on its social channels saying, “We are listening to you and that is why we are making a decision right now.” The next day it withdrew from the market the packages with the slogan on it.

Burger King, another example

Another example of good management of a reputational crisis is that of Burger King. In March 2021, on International Women’s Day, the chain launched a controversial campaign in the United Kingdom under the slogan “Women belong in the kitchen”.

The idea was to promote a scholarship program that would help the organization’s workers pursue their culinary dreams. But what was intended to be a humorous gesture turned into a disaster, as many users on the networks accused the brand of being macho. That day, Burger King had more than 140,000 critical mentions.

Burger King quickly recognized the mistake and removed the controversial publication, stressing again that the purpose of the campaign was to provide scholarships for women. A week later, the cumbersome event had already been forgotten.

Silence is not an answer

There are many other examples, good and bad, of crisis management. In the case of Air Europa, it was inaccurate to say the least. In 2013 the airline was badly damaged due to a serious incident caused by a passenger in a wheelchair.

The airline denied access to the plane to the disabled woman because she was without a companion. The passenger decided to report what happened through her Twitter account and asked her followers to RT so that her situation could go viral. So, it did. She got over 2,600 RTs.

The company, instead of offering a solution to the passenger, responded to the tweet in an inappropriate way. It transferred the conditions of their service and transcribed their regulations that indicated that a person in a wheelchair must be accompanied.

This answer made the reputation problem worse. The hashtags #discrimination #disability and #complaint linked to the company’s name flooded Twitter and other social networks. After the criticism received, the company opted for silence.

Air Europa’s problem escalated to capture the attention of Spanish legislators and the European Commission which, shortly after, published a report stating that with the current legislation airlines benefit from forcing users with disabilities to buy another airplane ticket for their companion.

Identify risk and act

In conclusion, it is always good to act in the face of a crisis and effective communication is of vital importance to solve difficult situations.

It is necessary to identify the nature of the situation, the level of risk and the possible consequences for the brand to design a coherent and effective communication strategy.

Crisis situations require leadership and guidance from the company’s board of directors, as well as a clear, precise, and prompt response to users, to protect the reputation and trust in a brand.

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