You’re cancelled! - Brandmark Studios

Hitting The Mark

Today’s cancel culture calls out brands or personalities for behavior considered unacceptable and it can stifle marketing initiatives if businesses aren’t attentive to it. The fact is, people are often quick to act and slow to question, so businesses need to understand how negative information swells may impact their reputation or sales and plan ahead for it.

What is the “Cancel Culture?

The “cancel culture”, or “call-out culture”, is the practice of no longer supporting businesses, people, or products that are considered “unacceptable”. It is one of the unfortunate side effects of today’s digital age and is a real phenomenon. The dictionary definition references “the public shaming of a person or entity whose opinions or orthodoxy one dislikes”. However, marketers need to pay heed as the concept broadly means that more power is in the hands of the consumer – and this can translate into negative actions:

  • the blocking of communication, such as in the “unsubscribe” feature in an e-newsletter
  • an unfavorable review
  • the boycotting of a product

Far from a new phenomenon – think the Salem witch trials, ‘Pray thee, have you no transgressions?’, today’s “call-out culture” can shut down a business, or brand, exponentially -- think losing followers, supporters, customers, careers and fan bases.

Beware of bad influencers

With oodles of content and millions of influencers in our media, brand regulation can be challenging. Words are powerful -- their meanings shape our perceptions and drive our behavior, and so unfavorable “words” can influence customers’ purchasing decisions adversely. Beware of inauspicious influencers. Remember that Influencer Marketing is a business, estimated to be worth $15BN by the end of this year, according to Business Insider.  These influencers’ goals are not the same as your own.

Don’t be afraid to take a stand

It’s imperative to be vigilant and sensitive to others’ interpretations of your message and ensure your perspective is communicated thoughtfully, but don’t be afraid to share your views. The cancel culture phenomenon shouldn’t prevent brands from taking a stand on matters that reflect core values. Disinformation can spring from leftfield and cause an image crisis, so know the facts, and have answers to questions prepared.

Be strategic in planning for worst-case scenarios, and use this information to inform your crisis

In a nutshell…

  • The Cancel Culture puts more power in the hands of consumers
  • Unfavorable words or actions can influence marketing effectiveness and purchasing decisions
  • Brand messages need to be communicated thoughtfully
  • Worst-case scenarios can inform a crisis communications plan
  • Changing sentiments and running commentaries need to be monitored
  • React immediately and authentically to an unfavorable event

Plan ahead and surf communications trends with aplomb