JCPenney vs. Susan G. Komen: How (& How Not) to Handle a Marketing Debacle

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infinity
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social media minefields
infinity   2/16/2012 11:55:56 AM
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Social media can be a bit like a minefield, especially for well-known entities. One false step and the net unleashes its fury of thousands of anonymous voices. The nice thing is, next week those same furious folks are usually onto something else.

JCP handled things well by not lashing back against the moms; this certainly will help take the sting away a bit.

smkinoshita
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Re: social media minefields
smkinoshita   2/16/2012 1:24:34 PM
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It looks like when faced with trouble, the best thing to do is face it head-on.  Hiding burned Carnival too, while Moisés Chiullan recovered the Avenger controller PR disaster by taking questions and comments using Reddit.

alizasherman
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Re: social media minefields
alizasherman   2/16/2012 2:16:21 PM
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Yes to facing it head-on, but not being so headstrong that you can't "see the forest for the trees." Right?

smkinoshita
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Re: social media minefields
smkinoshita   2/16/2012 2:23:46 PM
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OK, to clarify -- face it respectfully head-on.

Ariella
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Re: social media minefields
Ariella   2/16/2012 3:51:08 PM
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@smkinoshita absolutely. Otherwise things can descend into personal attacks that get really ugly -- like some of the flaming comments you can see on blogs or even on YouTube videos. It really boils down to being able to disagree agreeably. 

alizasherman
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Re: social media minefields
alizasherman   2/16/2012 5:18:39 PM
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@ariella - agreeing to disagree - good attitude for brands. Not everyone will love you. Not everyone will agree. And getting "defensive" or "offensive" can trigger problems for sure.

John Barnes
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Re: social media minefields
John Barnes   2/17/2012 12:01:22 PM
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But also (just to keep it complicated) responses should be firm and really firm.  The deadliest sign you can give off is "unless of course someone is offended and then we'll do anything to placate them."  It pulls in social media attack the way "C'mon, guys, this isn't funny ..." used to set off bullies on the schoolyard, and for similar reasons.

alizasherman
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Re: social media minefields
alizasherman   2/16/2012 2:20:03 PM
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I think applying the Golden Rule is a pretty good place to start, in life and in social media.

impactnow
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Social Pr
impactnow   2/16/2012 12:47:04 PM
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Social media can quickly elicit a firestorm and yes it can quickly die down but the flames can be rapidly fire up again as seen with Netflix last year. The key for companies is to understand how to manage social media with Pr experts versus in managing social PR.

Ellis Booker
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Here's a recent story that was resolved even quicker than the SBK one. Target pulled from its shelves a Valentine's Day card that made a joke about stalking.

The source of the uproar, which started on Twitter, is nearly as interesting: Former porn actress Ginger Lee, most famously known as the one who went public about then Congressman Anthony Weiner prodding her to lie about their online relationship. Ms. Lee, herself a victim of a stalker for the past two years, said: "I can't believe a multinational company that says they are involved in the community is making light of a terrible thing like stalking."

The card, which on the front read "stalker is a harsh word" has on the inside the words, "i prefer valentine."

 

AliceAMM
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We're supposed to be able to laugh at ourselves. There are just some things that aren't funny on a public stage.

alizasherman
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Interesting. I missed that about the inappropriate card. Curious to see how Target responded other than quickly pulling the card from shelves.

henrisha
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@Ellis. Thanks for sharing this. I find this interesting for a number of reasons: how the card read in the first place (sensitive subject matter, although I don't doubt that many will find humor in it), the source of the uproar, and how Target worked to resolve it. Good move by them.

Mitch Wagner
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Re: Social Pr
Mitch Wagner   2/16/2012 3:40:02 PM
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@impactnow - Social media can quickly elicit a firestorm and yes it can quickly die down but the flames can be rapidly fire up again as seen with Netflix last year. 

And yet Netflix seems to have recovered, hasn't it?

yuschick
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What I Like to See...
yuschick   2/16/2012 7:35:37 PM
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When watching companies handle such situations, the one thing I prefer to see is a strong stance in one position; as you state/advise.  I feel Netflix could have learned from some of these notes as their wavering positions and poor choices led me to cancel and switch to Hulu.  I think with the way social media can deliver messages and share opinions, the impossible goal of pleasing everybody has become even more impossible.  Because of this, I think companies need to rely on honesty and consistency so those who don't agree may atleast develop a level of respect.

henrisha
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Don't lie. On the Internet, lies are revealed, repeated, and retweeted faster than you can retract them.

True, true. The number one rule is to think before you speak--otherwise, you could have it reversed and used against you in an instant. The thing with social media, as you've mentioned, is that everything will spread like wildfire. You only need one spark to start the fire, and once it's lit, it will take a great deal of time to put off.

John Barnes
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It required a bit of iron nerve, but if Penney's marketing intel was any good, they probably already knew that

1) the slightly-above-median middle class women "value shopping demographic" that is their backbone was one in which many, many women have openly gay friends and coworkers (partly due to the industries where Penneys shoppers are concentrated)

2) Ellen Degeneres is very well-liked in that same demographic and her talk show guest list is slanted heavily toward them; she brings the people they like, and would like to see, on the air, and interviews them in a very positive, respectful way.

3) One Million Moms bears several marks of being an astroturf organization: only about 40k Facebook followers, no public bodies-on-the-street events, claims of victory every time a sponsor drops a program, and a set of vague testimonials that indicate an old, churchy, prudish base (again, not the way that a woman who wants to look stylish  on a budget and wear something well made that will last a while tends to see herself). 

So someone at Penney's very likely looked and said "OMM doesn't win a lot and it's not clear there really is an OMM. Ellen Degeneres works well for us among exactly the people we want to sell to. Next." And then had the good sense to say that firmly in public.

alizasherman
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@John Barnes - Interesting analysis. Always something to be said for doing your homework and avoiding knee jerk reactions.

Dwhite706
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Great article and kudos to J.C. Penny for not caving to pressure and understanding who their true marekt is and what they value.  Jeers to Susan B. Komen.  I an organization who professes to have the best interest of women at heart should make sure they hire people to work for and represent them to have the whole health and well being of women in mind, not just support for the parts they like

Barbara Krafte
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re: Marketing or values?
Barbara Krafte   2/19/2012 3:11:50 PM
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My guess is that Susan is looking down wondering, how could they get it so wrong? Where was the Board in a decision of such magnitude? And how could they betray the organization's core values so committed to research and science? And finally, how why did they allow themselves to become corrupted by a political agenda that is the antithesis of everything the foundation stood for?

This wasn't a brand mistake; that's another article about licensing and greed (way too many pink ribbons out there!). This was a fundamental values shift, and a terribly disappointing one at that. 

 

alizasherman
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re: Marketing or values?
alizasherman   2/20/2012 4:58:09 PM
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@barbara krafte - Everything that happens in the "real world" with our companies, organizations and brands can get amplified in social networks. Make bad decisions offline, the spotlight can get heated online. Not understanding that magnifying effect is a miss on Komen's part.

Mitch Wagner
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re: Marketing or values?
Mitch Wagner   2/20/2012 8:30:55 PM
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Barbara Krafte - This wasn't a brand mistake; that's another article about licensing and greed (way too many pink ribbons out there!). 

Ask and we shall deliver: Susan B. Komen for the Cure Criticism Leads to Fallout for Brands

Barbara Krafte
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re: Marketing or values?
Barbara Krafte   2/21/2012 11:47:53 AM
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Mitch Wagner - 

Can you elaborate?

 

Mitch Wagner
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re: Marketing or values?
Mitch Wagner   2/21/2012 3:53:42 PM
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Barbara - I was just passing on a link -- Ariella Brown did a piece for us in October addressing just the issues you mentioned. 

meeklog
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I can't read this.
meeklog   2/23/2012 3:06:08 PM
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The organization's name is Susan G. Komen.

This is now two articles on this site that have improperly referenced the organization (Susan B. Komen for the Cure Criticism Leads to Fallout for Brands). Of course, the other article shifts to a "G" midway, so I guess it's only half as bad?

Please fix this...for your own sake.

Mitch Wagner
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Blogger
Re: I can't read this.
Mitch Wagner   2/23/2012 4:53:47 PM
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meeklog - Thanks for the tip! We'll fix that. 



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