Advertising is a powerful tool that can influence millions, ergo must be used wisely. From conventional advertising that focused solely on selling products to emotional marketing, advertising has evolved over the years as a medium to establish deep connections with the audience. The power of advertising is especially evident during conflicts and crisis situations when the right message can inspire masses to take meaningful actions.
It is quite common for brands to leverage current trends and events to promote their brands in the name of moment marketing. While moment marketing is often a hit among consumers when done right, there are times when such moment marketing attempts backfire. Conflicts and crisis situations are a prime example. There is nothing wrong with advertising during conflicts per se. The problem arises when conflicts are viewed as a marketing opportunity by brands.
There have been several instances in the past where brands tried to leverage conflict situations to promote their brands. Miracle Mattress is one such brand that received severe backlash for its ‘Twin Tower Sale’ ad inspired by the 9/11 attack. Fast forward to 2022 and some brands haven’t shied away from taking advantage of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war to create ‘trending ads’ based on a ‘hot topic’.
Should brands resort to moment marketing even during war situations? They shouldn’t and the below mentioned reasons explain why moment marketing during conflicts need to be avoided.
Brands risk being perceived as insensitive
Unfortunately the fierce competition has led brands to resort to aggressive advertising tactics.. In a desperate attempt to stay relevant and ‘not miss out’, they try to make use of every situation to increase followers, likes and shares. But consumers today are clever enough to understand the intent behind the ads. Brands that go about making ads simply to seek attention are perceived apathetic by the masses. We are living in a day and age where brands are more than the products/services they offer. While brands can express solidarity with the war victims through an ad, making an ad to draw a connection between your product and the conflict situation would be perceived as outright insensitive. What’s worse, it may take forever for brands to recover from the reputational damage due to a careless approach. .
A conflict is a sensitive issue, not a ‘trending topic’
A war is not a trending topic or a golden opportunity for brands to ramp up sales or mint money. A conflict is a sensitive issue and must be treated as one. Brands should steer away from building advertising tactics around the conflict. While some brands successfully distance themselves from moment marketing, something as simple as mindless use of hashtags gets them in trouble. Brands should never use hashtags related to conflict in an attempt to increase their ad reach. While you may think that the ad in itself doesn’t touch upon the conflict, any attempt to capitalize on the situation is bound to face severe criticism. It’s not just about saving your brand from public backlash. It’s about being sensitive and sensible enough to maintain a certain level of dignity and integrity during a crisis.
Political overtones could spark controversies
While brands are expected to take a stand, taking political sides is not recommended. A conflict may be a result of clashes between two political parties or ideologies. A hasty moment marketing effort could end up in a poorly crafted ad that reflects your inclinations towards a certain political party. Brands may receive flak for taking sides just to appear trendy or to leverage the topicality of the war. It can spark major controversies. The worst part about moment marketing on sensitive issues is that you can never predict audience response. Something that seems totally fine to you may be interpreted in a totally different manner by the audience.
Poor ad placements can hurt people’s feelings
Let’s suppose you refrained from any kind of moment marketing during the conflict. You could still risk being perceived as insensitive. Poor ad placements are to be blamed for this. Brands must be extremely careful while advertising during conflicts. You don’t want your ad to appear beside disturbing images of war. Wrong ad placements could easily ruin your brand image. A luxury resort ad appearing beside a war image will never be appreciated regardless of how good the ad is. Your marketing efforts should reflect sensitivity and empathy especially during a conflict.
Advertising during conflict may need extra effort and attention from brands as a seemingly minor error could blow out of proportion resulting in financial and reputational damage. Taking political stands to appear trendy or creating controversies for negative publicity and deviating from your core brand values just so you don’t miss out on a few extra likes or shares could lead to boycott from consumers. A conflict situation is different as people’s feelings may get hurt easily and the repercussions could be more severe. While brands must refrain from leveraging war or tragedy for marketing purposes, it doesn’t mean brands should act oblivious to things happening around them. A thoughtful and empathetic approach is the way to prevent any unintended consequences.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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