Is negative publicity a positive for brands?

27 May,2013


By Meghna Sharma and Ananya Saha


The Indian Premier League had more than its share of negative publicity this season. Did the brands associated with IPL get affected too? And is it possible for brands associated with an event to avoid negative publicity around the event? Or is any publicity good publicity? MxMIndia spoke to industry professionals to find out what brands can do in such a negative scenario.


Harish Bijoor, Marketing & Brand strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc

Brands are like human beings; they are born, they live, they thrive and then they die. In this entire life-cycle, if a brand has a slur cast onto it, this slur lasts as long or as short as the memory of the brand-audience. A controversy is both good and bad for the brand. It is good as it keeps the brand in public mindsets longer, it is bad because it is a canker that affects the image of the brand at large.


Brands that are active, dynamic, have large mind-shares and market shares alike, cannot really stay away from controversy. The silver lining is the fact that public memory is proverbially short. Very short. Irreverent brands love all kinds of publicity. Possibly IPL is on the cusp of being an irreverent brand. All controversy is good for such brands.


Vandana Das, President, DDB Mudra Group, Delhi

I do not think that any brand associated with IPL got affected with the recent controversies. Brands have their own long-standing equity. Controversy is the pivot, but not necessarily everything in the periphery will get affected. What is important to note is that controversies are short-lived and brands have a longer life than a controversy. While one can say that IPL is in trouble, one cannot say that the brands are in trouble. It is not that the brands knowingly get into controversy. Brands do not have the control or have influence over such controversies. The brands tend to tide over it. At that particular moment, controversies seem big but brands tide over it.


But this in no way means that any publicity is good publicity. At the end of the day, even short-lived negative publicity can affect a brand. And if a brand is not strong enough, it can even dilute its equity. Just like people, brands also need to avoid any negative publicity around them.


Sachin Kapur, Chief Marketing Officer, Groupon India

I particularly do not think that brands associated with IPL will get affected by negative publicity, primarily because it is not in the brand’s or brand manager’s hands. Yes, there are brands riding on the popularity of the event, the association is more to do with individual team or player. The overall interest in the IPL might go down, and while brands might have associated with the event to gain from it, it is still a long shot to say that it might have affect on the brands.


Today, with active social media, even one negative blog post or tweet spreads like wildfire. It will reach your customer.


There are times when there are situations, negative situations, surround a brand. These are times that challenges or reactions from the brand do not go down well with the consumer or audience. But no brand, whether six-sigma complaint or not, can stay down for long. The strategy of every brand should be to focus on customer.


Amitabh Khona, Communication Consultant

Today, crisis management is very important. Everyone knows about the Cadbury and Coke controversies, but have people stopped eating or drinking them? No. It depends on how a brand strikes back. For instance, Cadbury changed its packaging after worms were found in one batch. Also, another factor is the short memory of people. We will talk about something for a few days or months, but forget about all of it later and move on with our lives. Same can be said about IPL, although the recent events are all over the news channels and newspapers, people haven’t stopped watching the matches.


Also, today where there are too many brands, one can say that any publicity is good publicity. No one will go out of business because of negative publicity or controversies. Such things keep happening and will continue to happen, everywhere in the world.


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One response to “Is negative publicity a positive for brands?”

  1. Omprakash Banerjee says:

    A man is known by the company he keeps – so goes a saying. Needless to mention, It fits into the brand’s association as well in the form of campaigns through events and promotions like IPL. As a brand custodian one must refrain from any such activity which will negatively impact the brand image. Think about it from a common man’s perspective without jargons.

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