Cancel Culture and Marketing
Let’s start with what cancel culture actually is. According to the definition from Dictionary.com, it is when support is withdrawn or canceled from a public figure or company after they did or said something objectionable or offensive to a group of people.
Need an example? I got you! Remember BP’s oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico killing and harming the marine life and the habitat they lived in? Yep, the spill got BP canceled. Almost immediately, people started boycotting BP in all ways possible. No one wants to support a company that did so much damage which could have been preventable. The spill happened in 2010. It is 2020, and BP is still suffering from mistrust formed after the oil spill.
Of course BP is not the only company to experience being canceled. Nowadays, it seems like every minute a new celebrity, influencer, or business is trending alongside #isoverparty. One mistake taken out of context is enough for the public group shaming to commence. So, what does this mean for marketing?
Any public relations crisis is exactly that...a crisis. However, being canceled is a whole different problem. One cannot simply put out an apologetic statement to try to fix the problem. Get in front of the camera. Show the face of your brand. Viewers will read body language and look to continue dragging and canceling. The most important part is you have to be sincerely sorry. It has to go further than just being upset your business is under fire. You have to regret causing pain to a group of people.
The next tip may be obvious, but it must be said. Your social feed cannot continue on as if nothing happened. One of the beauties of social media is that it is generally real time. Pause your marketing schedule. I promise, it can wait. Focus on directing your audience’s attention to what matters, your remorse and the ways you plan to prove what happened was not aligned with the brand’s views. Donate to a cause. Truly listen to the voices of those genuinely reaching out. Don’t bury your head in the sand and go silent. Post updates like your apology and efforts being made to help amend the situation. Don’t start back on your normal social schedule until things have officially blown over. You can’t make everyone happy, but you can honestly repent.
Be careful when handling being canceled. There are fine lines everywhere, and people are ruthless. You will lose loyal customers while some will stay apprehensively. Potential customers will turn away. Then there are always people who were never going to buy from you blacklisting the business. If you handle it correctly, the majority of your target customers will stay. No matter what, you will have to work on rebuilding trust.
Getting canceled is difficult for the entire company and its community. Through all the trying moments just remember someone else will be canceled within the next 24 hours, and your cancellation will be canceled soon enough!