How to Avoid Advertising Mishaps
31 Oct 2019

How to Avoid Advertising Mishaps

Back in 2017, Pepsi ran an ad where Kendall Jenner partook in a march and approached a cop with a can of soda. It looked like Pepsi was trying to get involved in movements such as Black Lives Matter for commercial gains. As a result, it was almost immediately pulled off the air, and the company released an apology. In short, this was an advertising mishap of extraordinary levels and was deeply offensive.


Unfortunately, dozens upon dozens of advertisers make these mistakes each year, turning consumers off their product or service and offending potential buyers. Usually, ads like these, especially by big companies, end up forcing apologies, and only last on the airwaves for a few days at most. As a result, the bad press leads to poor sales, negative engagement, and a whole array of issues. Who wants that?

However, these sorts of advertising disasters can be avoided. Namely, doing your due diligence on developing and researching your advertisements before you place them is key. Most importantly, research is the most important thing you can do to avoid a situation like the one that Pepsi created.

Research, Research, Research

The main way to make sure your advertisements don’t fail miserably is to conduct research. In short, advertising research encompasses so much of the process of developing your brand and advertising campaigns. 

First, you can assess the ad itself through ad testing, copy testing, video testing, and message testing. This is the easiest way to make sure that an ad is being received well. You can develop a survey that shows the advertisement to the respondent, and asks them what they think. This gives direct feedback that helps you improve your advertisement, and will uncover any potential red flags consumers might have. You can do this simply by asking questions, or even use a highlighter tool so that respondents can specifically point to what they do and don’t like about the ad.

By conducting brand tracker surveys over time, you will have a clearer vision of your brand. A clearer vision of your brand will mean clearer advertising messages, and less chance that you will dip into the areas that offend.

You could also use an ad tracker. Ad trackers are vital to your advertisements, and should start before you even start your campaign. Surveys can be used to track ad campaigns and gauge consumer reaction. Not only will you be clearing up any potentially touchy areas of your ads, but you will be gaining insight into what customers might really enjoy. They also help understand how advertisements develop and test over time. As a result, you can see if something that was well received at one point is now poorly received.

Focus Groups (and Alternatives)

Additionally, conducting focus groups in order to get immediate and in-depth feedback on your advertisements and campaigns can be a deterrent to faux pas advertising. However, it isn’t always the best methodology. That doesn’t mean they aren’t insightful and important, especially when it comes to testing ads. In addition to a tracker, a focus group can go a long way.

Consequently, there are new alternatives to in-person focus groups that are less expensive, but also will help you achieve your goal of immediate response to an advertising campaign. New online focus groups that utilize artificial intelligence are making the rounds, and allow for immediate response to questions, advertisements, and images prompted. This is another safeguard to make sure no offensive material is getting out in the name of your brand.

Avoiding Advertising Mishaps

Together, these forms of research can help you have a much clearer vision of what will attract your customers. Not only will you clear any potential problematic advertisements, but you will be able to frame creative in order to drive support for your brand and product.

Want to learn more about Market Research? Here are some blog posts to check out!

  1. What’s the Difference Between Quantitative vs. Qualitative?
  2. Virtual Reality & Qualitative Research: Fad or Here to Stay?
  3. 6 Things to Watch Out for When Writing a Survey
  4. Marketing Strategies for Generation Alpha: the Newest Generation

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