I don’t understand why reporters still automatically conclude problems and crisis when people use brands in unintended ways and then share their experience with others. People have done that forever.
This time it’s Advertising Age announcing foul play over a few kids that posted online videos of themselves demonstrating how you can inhale and then exhale powdered sugar from Smarties candies, creating a cigarette-like smoke cloud. AdAge’s headline: ‘Smoking Smarties’ Videos Create Blaze of Unwelcome PR. It followed with all sorts of third-party advice and commentary over what to do “if people are messing with your brand online.”
If I had written the story, the headline would have been: Social video surfaces longtime product passion.
Being the brand steward at my own company, the critical questions I would have probed are:
- What are the elemental brand particles that capture imagination and passion?
- What’s the magic that engages and motivates customers to not only consume your product like a herd of cattle, but to spontaneously act on it and express experience?
- A chord was struck, so how can it be unpacked, tuned, and amplified to build customer relationships?
To be sure, the following video is hilarious. It brings back memories of when I was six and seven years old, doing the exact same thing. Celebrate customer passion, don’t demonize it.