Sunday, 15 February 2015

Do spoofs and propaganda help brand building?

Marketers love propaganda and they think it helps promote a brand. However, sometimes you play with the sentiments of a community if you vilify their beliefs and denigrate their legends. Eventually, you end up losing a band of loyal customers. 

Recently, I was in Cebu and came across a marketing blunder of a company producing EQ brand diapers.

In early 2013 a television commercial of EQ diapers took resort to the history recalling the famous battle of Mactan. In the commercial, the Spanish conquistador Ferdinand Magellan arrives in Mactan and gifts the king of Mactan Lapu-Lapu a box of diapers. However, his wife Reyna Bulakna finds out that the diapers are of inferior quality. This enrages Lapu-Lapu and thus, begins the battle of Mactan.    

Many people found the advertisement funny and found nothing wrong about it. However, Balbino “Ka Bino” Guerrero, a tour guide and a tourism consultant of Lapu-Lapu City and Lapu-Lapu Mayor Paz Radaza, along with many others, found the advertisement insulting.

Ka Bino launched an online petition to pull out the commercial and the mayor demanded a public apology from the company and stoppage of advert airing.

Later, the Advertising Board of the Philippines recalled the clearance to air the EQ diapers commercial.

In another instance of marketing blunder, New England Brewing Company of Connecticut, USA, had been marketing its India pale ale under the name "Gandhi-Bot". On the label was a robot version of Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi, the father of nation, led India to freedom from the British rule and is revered by Indians throughout the world. The brewery drew the ire of Indian community for insulting the great soul.

The company had to apologise and stop using the name and image of Gandhi on the beer cans. It later decided to rebrand the beer. 

The company, however, claimed that they hoped the product would inspire people to learn about Mahatma Gandhi and his non-violent methods of civil obedience.

Likewise, the EQ diapers wanted the people to recall the famous battle of Mactan and remember their hero Lapu-Lapu.

However, in both the cases, playing with the sentiments of people backfired. Both the cases, along with many other similar cases, convey a simple message – though spoofs and propaganda bring a brand into limelight, it is short-lived and in the long term deter the brand building process.

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