How PR can help save you: When you cross the line from witty to offensive

Read about Bloomingdale’s Holiday Ad Mishap by our PRSSA Blog Team.

By: Bianca Esposito

The holiday season is the time of year when public relations agencies begin sending out their holiday round-up guides to media; advertising agencies are busy thinking of their wittiest seasonal ads that will be sure to turn heads. But when does being playful and witty go too far and become offensive and detrimental to brand reputation?

BloomingdaleAdThe latest 2015 Bloomingdale’s holiday advertisement features a woman shyly laughing and looking away from a man while the man is positioned off in the background and separated from the woman by text that reads, “Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.”

This ad has gone viral on social media due to its creepy, date-rape promotion that has left people questioning who exactly was responsible and deemed this as a good idea to publish.

Bloomingdale’s has responded to the negative backlash that they have been receiving by admitting that is this ad is “inappropriate”. From a public relations standpoint, Bloomingdale’s did the right thing by admitting that they were wrong for releasing this ad, which can help salvage their brand reputation. But without future development of strategic communication plans, clear crisis communication plans, and careful planning of future statements and ads, Bloomingdale’s runs a serious risk of losing loyal followers for good.

Other companies can learn from Bloomingdale’s word blunder by carefully analyzing their potential witty slogans from several angles to ensure that there is no chance it may be perceived in an incriminating way to the brand. PR can help save clients who undergo backlash from the media for bad advertising by developing a campaign that places the client in a positive light and distracts from past negative involvement. Hosting a fundraising fashion show for women who have been domestically abused in the future can be an PR event that could greatly help to erase this holiday advertising error from the public’s mind.

As a public relations specialist, always be prepared to take on a client’s unexpected issues in the media. By having a deep understanding of the audience that your client appeals to, the media that frequently covers them, and their related news industry, you will be equipped to steer your client back on a positive track.



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