As International Women's Day, March 8, approaches, is your brand ready? Have you created a unique ad campaign or a new product launch to celebrate women and women's achievements? If not, there's still time. No matter what you do, however, do NOT repeat what Burger King did last year. Allow me to refresh your memory.
As Lisa Roberts wrote for PR News:
"Five simple words: “Women belong in the kitchen.” One cringe-worthy tweet. Hoping to deliver its International Women’s Day campaign, Burger King UK instead made headlines for a controversial marketing choice. The public reacted swiftly. It called out the fast-food giant for using a sexist trope as clickbait. Highlighting gender disparity in the restaurant industry was the campaign's aim. That got lost in the hubbub. It didn’t take long for Burger King to backpedal. The company deleted the tweet and apologized for its insensitivity. It explained the intent of the provocative post, but the damage was done. In less than a day, women’s rights activists were speaking out against Burger King."
According to Daniel Piper of CreativeBlog:
"If you're wondering how Burger King's marketing team managed to convince itself this was a good idea, the company tried to explain in subsequent tweets. "Only 20% of chefs are women," one read. "We're on a mission to change the gender ratio in the restaurant industry by empowering female employees." The company said it was launching a new scholarship program to help female Burger King employees pursue their culinary dreams.
Later in the day on March 8, Burger King UK deleted the tweet and explained its reasoning in a separate Twitter post. "We hear you. We got our initial tweet wrong and we’re sorry," it began in one tweet. A second tweet read: "We decided to delete the original tweet after our apology. It was brought to our attention that there were abusive comments in the thread, and we don't want to leave the space open for that."
Burger King wrote in a statement:
“We are committed to helping women break through a male-dominated culinary culture in the world’s fine dining restaurants, and sometimes that requires drawing attention to the problem we’re trying to help fix. Our tweet in the UK today was designed to draw attention to the fact that only a small percentage of chefs and head chefs are women. It was our mistake to not include the full explanation in our initial tweet and have adjusted our activity moving forward because we’re sure that when people read the entirety of our commitment, they will share our belief in this important opportunity."
The bottom line is this: If you are taking the time and spending the money to create a marketing campaign, spend time in the early stages and research who it will reach, what their core values are, and what may upset them. Look at how these targeted stakeholders engage online, things they talk about, language they use, accounts they follow, and causes they support. Then, and only then, go live with your campaign - not before.
And if you need a lesson from a positive marketing campaign, travel back seven years to what has affectionately been called the ice bucket challenge. The ALS Association, a nonprofit organization, raised $115 million to fund research with a simple challenge: Get a bucket of ice and water and record pouring it on someone. More than 17 million videos including posts by Bill Gates and George Bush were shared with the #IceBucketChallenge hashtag during the summer of 2014.
What have you learned from these two examples to help your brand's future marketing, advertising, and public relations campaigns?
Image Credit: The now-deleted tweet via Future.