Mindi Chahal

Our cover this week questions whether the fear of a social media scandal is driving marketers to play it safe and revive old campaigns. Many brands have gone back in time and revived old creative, slogans and adverts but for those releasing new creative market research could play an important part without stifling the ideas.

In the case of Southern Comfort the market research conducted on the new creative reassured the brand that it was taking the right route in terms of the positioning and moving away from marketing the brand heritage. The brand released the ‘Whatever’s comfortable’ campaign in December 2012 featuring a middle-aged man walking down the beach in just his swimming trunks with a glass of the drink.

Gwen Ridsdale, Southern Comfort’s marketing manager for the UK & Ireland, explained that this was the power behind it because the new campaign is based on a strong consumer insight rather than relying on the provenance or heritage of the brand.

Although despite having the research to back up the new creative Ridsdale says the team were ‘terrified’ when the advert first aired and closely watched social media channels to gauge the reaction of its market.

The brand did get a few negative comments on social media about the campaign from people that didn’t understand it and even a few who accused the brand of promoting obesity. Ridsdale says “that’s living in the digital arena and the immediacy of it and that’s a risk you have to take but it’s about being brave, believing in your agency and embedding everything in consumer insights.”

As seen in this example a brand could get a certain level of reassurance behind a creative idea especially if that idea involves a repositioning of the marketing message. As the social media backlash that Hyundai and PepsiCo received for its new campaigns shows it’s better to be safe than sorry by including some consumer insight in new creative work.