dolcegabbana

Social media. How hard can it be?

Not so long ago a global fashion brand, you may have heard of them – Dolce & Gabbana, thought it would be a good idea to scare up some social media buzz for their upcoming Shanghai fashion show by posting some Chinese specific videos.

The posts depicting a beautiful Chinese model being taught to eat Italian food with chopsticks. One, in which she attempts to eat an oversized cannoli, included the comment: “Is it too big for you?”

No prizes for guessing what happened next.

During the ensuing outrage one of the iconic fashion duo, Stefano Gabbana, engaged in an unfortunate exchange with a fashion journalist, during which he used the poo emoji to describe China.

The big show in Shanghai was, unsurprisingly, cancelled, only hours before the curtain was due to rise.

What does this tell us? Clearly, commercial use of social media really hurts when you get it wrong.

The factis, a brand that lives in an industry that relies on social media can get it so wrong is a warning to all brands seeking to build a following to spruik their wares.

Social media may be a great medium to engage directly with customers, but it is unfiltered, un-curated and unregulated. The slightest miss-step will get magnified. Once that happens trying to get your brand out of the mire will most likely create even more attention, none of it good.

Fashion brands and fast moving consumer goods can ill-afford to ignore social media. For some a lack of presence on social platforms would be an existential threat. But for many companies and brands social media engagement is not quite as critical, yet many over-invest in engaging on multiple platforms with many content entry points. All increasing the risk of something going very wrong.

We may bemoan the ‘oversensitivity’ of the audience and the sensationalising of otherwise ‘small’ issues by the new and old media, but that is the world in which we do business. Controlling the message and minimising risk should be paramount.

For any sensible brand a ‘social media strategy’ should not mean broadcasting across all possible platforms. It should mean carefully considering who you want to engage with, why it’s of value in the first place and who will control the brand messages. What seems like a good idea at a ‘brainstorm’ should always be put through the filter of who may possibly take offence?

In the end, sometimes less is more.

As for Dolce & Gabbana, their clothes were removed from a multitude of Chinese on-line retailers and their access to the largest fashion market in the world is yet to recover.

instantkarma

Instant feedback is going to get you – a cautionary lesson

One of the most damaging and cringe-worthy moments in the Ardent Leisure response to the deaths at Dreamworld was the sight of Ardent CEO, Deborah Thomas, live on-air asserting that that a family had been contacted when she was seemingly not in possession of the full facts.

She was asked if the company had reached out to the mother of the two adult siblings who died on the Thunder Rapids ride. She said they had.

When told that one of mothers, Mrs. Dorset, was watching and had told the journalist who had asked the question that no one from the company had actually contacted her, Ms Thomas then change her statement to say that the company did not know how to contact Mrs. Dorset. The reporter then gave Ms. Thomas Mrs. Dorset’s mobile number.

Crisis management lesson: When fronting the media and you are not absolutely certain of your position don’t try to muddle through. If you have not done something yourself don’t assume it has been done and state it as a fact. If you don’t know or are not sure, say you don’t know or are not sure. That may not be the best outcome, but it’s better than getting it wrong because today’s instant media feedback loop will catch you out and make you look a fool, or worse.

theage

How hard can it be?? The transition from print to digital

The two leading Fairfax Media properties for decades were The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. And didn’t advertisers know it.

Often referred to as being ‘rivers of gold’ the spend on advertising in their voluminous publications were the stuff ad rep’s dreams are made of.

That was then. Now, both papers have been reduced to wafer thin tabloid-sized weekday editions with virtually no advertising and barely a page of classifieds or public announcements.

There could be no better demonstration of Fairfax’s fall from grace than the post AFL Grand Final edition of The Age. Made up of only 40 pages, 13 of which were sport, and carrying only two half page colour ads.

So how hard could it have been to get so few ads right? Apparently too hard. The Age ran an ad from Western Bulldogs supporters,  University of Victoria, congratulating them on a fine season and a great effort despite not winning the flag.

Notice anything unusual? The Age’s ad department clearly did not.

One mistake isn’t the be-all-and-end-all but it’s not just one mistake. Industry insiders tell us that there is a constant stream of similar mistakes that, in most cases, are only picked up once the client or agency puts in a call.

Fairfax has all but given up the ghost on print and, it would appear, allocated resources elsewhere. They are focussed on online content but even there questions abound. The content deal with the Huffington Post has opened them to the accusation of becoming nothing much more than ‘click-bait’ focussed. And the recently revamped online editions for the leading mastheads do little to disprove that theory.

Fairfax’s mismanagement of the transition to digital has left fertile ground for more agile competitors. Witness the arrival of The Guardian with a digital only Australian edition.

Companies and organisations are faced with an increasingly segmented media landscape. There is now a combination of online ‘broadcasters’ and digital ‘narrowcasters’ that businesses need to work with in order to get their messages through to their target audience. A ‘publish and pray’ media release will not do the job. Actually, it never really did.

It is a rapidly changing and evolving media environment and RMK+A harnesses its media expertise to continually review the risks and opportunities for its clients’ media engagement needs.

WHO-IS-CONNECTED-TO-MY-CAR

Who Is Connected To My Car?

Imagine. The driverless and connected car. The Jetsons meets Blade Runner, with wheels– for now!

The benefits are mind-boggling – but so too are the challenges affecting safety, privacy, regulation, law enforcement, and more.

Yet, to the general community, car makers don’t appear as alert and active as they could be in confronting these issues. Do they understand the value of engaging with major stakeholders long before the technologies swamp markets with unexpected vulnerabilities and are hit heavily by retrospective regulation?

So, keep imagining. You enter your “car”, without even a fob, and merely utter your destination. The Occupant ID and GPS already know you. The electric powertrain whirrs. You’re off, as you swivel on a monocoque-encased seat to face …. your workstation, where once was a steering wheel and dashboard.

Is this automotive nirvana for real?

Would you be in your seat, “unnecessarily” scanning the road; fretting about whether those twitchy 50 on-board modules are blinded by the sun and will plough you into a truck? Or would you be totally disengaged? What will be your legal obligation in terms of being “in control”? We’ve seen the first fatality already with a driverless Tesla.

But while the current question may be whether program engineers can foresee every permutation of personal safety risk, this is far from the only issue. In fact, the connected car will no longer be just your car. It is your life, your possessions, your history, your business, your misdemeanors, your purchases, your buying, travel and driving habits and all that can be communicated by networks.

What happens when you being driven along and, abruptly, everything powers down? As the vehicle slides itself safely into a roadside bay, a message instructs: “Your vehicle authority is suspended.”

It seems your bank has won a court order to take over your vehicle … it’s about a disputed payment, or a business debt, or an identity anomaly, or … Whatever. But what is clear is you are not in control. The cloud, and everyone connected to it, can potentially and remotely take control.

What else can happen? May creditors pinpoint your location to serve you? Can mobile salespeople intercept you in car parks? Will alienated spouses find you? Are business secrets accessible via your mobile platform? You, and your data, are an open “book”. Legal use of data may come with the purchase or lease of your vehicle, and on-selling deals done without you; like online software. Do we really understand what will be done with our data?

Of course all of this may be solved with a combination of regulation, legislation and technology.

But is the automotive industry active enough in shaping the outcome before it is shaped for it?

There is a huge task ahead in co-ordinating stakeholder relations, community consultation and government relations to draw the parameters of acceptability for communities and customers.

Without this, the legislation and regulation will come anyway – especially after some data breach, like the census scenario. At that point everything will happen to the car industry, not with it.

We see the opportunity to be active now and to allow customers and communities to shape the local evolution of the connected car … rather than try to do this after a crisis. The question is: will the car industry be caught asleep at the wheel?