You can imagine the situation – a comment about a brand, while positive, is entirely off strategy.
Years ago I worked for autotrader.co.za.
From time to time we would receive ads that – while representing a positive commentary about the brand – were entirely off strategy.
Private advertisers would try and list their mother-in-law at a real knock down price.
Hollard Insurance advertised 24 individual photographs depicting where a motor vehicle should have been. The only problem was they had been stolen – not to worry said Hollard ‘that’s what we are here for’. Great for Hollard, not so good for Auto Trader.
And then Rand Aid advertised ‘a 1916, work horse, in great condition if a little worn around the edges, looking for a good home’. You guessed it – the model was someone’s grandfather, an octogenarian who, having fallen on hard times, had nowhere else to go. Rand Aid, a charitable organisation, was asking for donations to help them provide for people when they couldn’t provide for themselves. Clever take but not on strategy.
In the social media space we see the same sort of commentary.
‘I love my jeans because no one else can afford them’ – not great if the brand aspires to coolness rather than exclusivity.
‘My car is so hip I pick up guys all the time’ – a problem if the vehicle is pitched at the family values conscious yummy-mummy brigade.
We call this sort of message ‘Incongruous’ – positive (I love my jeans and I have a hip car) but where there is dissonance between the nominal brand message and the commentary (coolness and family values not exclusivity and a guy magnet).
In such circumstance a brand should adopt what Pierre Berthon, Leyland Pitt and Colin Campbell refer to as the ‘applaud stance’.
Here a brand is primarily positive about the comment but doesn’t do anything to encourage it.
By applauding, the brand doesn’t appear tyrannical but is able to legitimately observe the conversation real time.
Matrix: Source: Berthon, Pitt and Campbell, California Management Review, Vol.50,No.4, Summer 2008