Dear Advertisers: It’s OK To Be Brilliantly Flawed!

Posted by Admin on April 29, 2013
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My husband and I recently took up an issue with a large brand on Twitter and was surprised with the results.   It really made me think about the powerful impact of turning negative goodwill experiences into valuable human connections for businesses.

Here’s what went down…

We purchased a Hoover vacuum a little less than two years ago.  The motor recently died and I was having a hard time getting any sympathy from customer service.   Three calls to their service team resulted in everyone getting defensive — with me receiving a lecture on how to properly clean my vacuum and what was (and wasn’t) covered by their two year warranty.  At this point my husband vowed to boycott Hoover for life.

Meanwhile, I suggested that he try sending them a tweet.  As a Marketing Community Manager myself, I’ve been extremely responsive and proactive when it comes to dealing with customer complains, so I wondered if other brands were also leveraging social media to resolve issues.

As the dust bunnies gathered in our living room, hubbie blasted out his frustration directly @OfficialHoover and received this response within minutes!


It’s not surprising what happens when brands humanize their flaws.  It turns out most consumers react the same way when companies respond with good intentions – they are usually forgiving  Too often, ego prevents advertisers and consumers from connecting in useful ways.  Hoover got it right here and demonstrated that it’s okay to be flawed and when handled properly, winning  back business is still possible.

If you are advertising in 2013, there is a trend developing that you need to incorporate not only into your brand strategy, but weave throughout the corporate culture.  Trend Report covered this last year in its report on Human Brands. This quote sums it up nicely:

“… human nature dictates that people have a hard time genuinely connecting with, being close to, or really trusting other humans who (pretend to) have no weaknesses, flaws, or mistakes” – trendwatching 2012 FLAWSOME report

As a brand, being transparent while having a personality is no longer an option.  With social media, consumers have a voice and and an audience online.  We are all sharing the good, bad and ugly in our lives.  Advertisers are no different and need to be open about their mistakes or risk continued public embarrassment and creating negative goodwill for their brand.

How Advertisers Can Be Brilliantly Flawed:

  • Don’t take yourself too seriously, especially when it comes to your messaging. Buckley’s slogan for cough drops “It Tastes Awful. And It Works.” became, and still is, very successful today.
  • Nobody wants or expects you to be perfect, so embrace imperfection (don’t be afraid to be the first to point out your weaknesses in your ad campaigns).
  • Admit when things go wrong, acknowledge mistakes quickly and follow-up sincerely.
  • Criticism and negative reviews should be welcomed and turned into opportunities.
  • Be responsive to all legitimate attacks.  Maritz Research (September 2011) revealed that 76% of people who complained on Twitter received no response from the brand. But among those who were contacted, 83% liked or loved that the brand responded and 85% were satisfied with the response.

Reputation takes a long time to earn but is easily destroyed in minutes and hard to repair. There are plenty of examples of companies trying to do it right in 2013.  The reality is most consumers wouldn’t care if 70% of brands ceased to exist. (Source: Havas Media, November 2011).  Brands and advertisers have a better chance to survive (and thrive) if they embrace their flaws and turn them into opportunities.


Topics: Brands, Social Media, Advertising


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