Using controversy to benefit the business is a debate that continues to divide attention among different marketing experts. This strategy is becoming a norm where various organizations are choosing to leverage by supporting extreme claims or by associating themselves with some factors that are not universally accepted in the society.
Debatable topics in the society divide opinion between different individuals because there exists a point of conflict that people cannot agree. If you have decided to take a controversial position, the best way to ensure that it works for your organization is ensuring that you have facts to reinforce your argument. ASEA water, a company selling rejuvenation water faced criticism of being a scam. However, the firm continued to advertise and back its product by use of facts which helped it to remain relevant despite the adversaries it was facing.
You need to understand that controversy involves selecting one side of the argument which will cause you to rub feathers with some members of the community. As you endeavor to use controversy as a strategy to grow your brand, you should ensure that you don’t annoy everyone and you should ensure that you are supporting a particular side so that you can gain support from the members who agree with your argument. In the UK, Protein World decided to run an advertising campaign that asked people whether they are beach body ready and placed the image of a slim model on their ad. Some critics argued that the image was body shaming. However, those people who supported weight management bought into the idea of the company by which it announced profits totaling to $1.3 million just a few days after the controversial ad.
Organizations willing to deviate from positive marketing to using controversy should ensure that they match controversy to brand image. This will prevent backlash as it will look like an acceptable norm within the society. A good example is when American Apparel resented an advert that was highly sexualized. The advert, dubbed made in Bangladesh, depicted a topless woman who was seen wearing American Apparel jeans. Although the ad gained a lot of criticism from conservative members of the society. It seemed to work at the time because the society because the fashion industry has been known to produce sexualized fashion and it seemed a normal thing. In this scenario, the ad was consistent with the industry.
People are using controversy to drive sales and increase awareness about their businesses. You should as well try it. However, you need to be very sensitive and accurate to avoid the backlash that could be detrimental to your business.
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Matthew King is the owner of the Startup Forums, Alkries LLC, and co-owner at TR King Insurance Marketing. Partner at Independent Life Insurance Agent Association, Medicare Training 101, and Final Expense 101. When he's not creating content about running successful businesses here. He's most likely developing processes, diving into SEO, or gaming with his friends and wife.
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