Condemnation was swift and brutal, and both President’s Choice and Gap are bowing and scraping today.
Why did they do it?
I suppose it’s the blinders affect: they were only focused on the perceived opportunity and were oblivious to the potential for disaster.
Were these all simply cases of bad judgement? One-off mistakes that got played out on a continental scale? Or was there something more indictable going on?
I’d like to suggest that what really happened here was a failure of process. Whatever the values of the respective brands, those responsible for creating and approving advertising tactics failed to align their communications to them.
In other words, they didn’t measure their promotions against the values and personality of the company. When you fail to do that, it’s cowboy country. Anything goes. Yee haw!
We see today in the news, on Mashable, on the Huff Post and others, the unfortunate fall-out from this failure of process.
The Brand Interventionist Recommends
If your business doesn’t have a clearly articulated Brand Guideline, against which you measure all external (and ideally internal) communications for compliance, get one.
If you have one, insist on adherence to it. That’s how you achieve consistency with your brand touchpoints.
You don’t have to wring your hands and search your soul over these sorts of opportunities. It will all be there in black and white.