CocaCola recently began running a new campaign with the slogan “You’re On.” According to an article written by Mitchell Hartman (2014) for marketplace.org, Coca-Cola pulled this campaign due to the negative attention it was receiving. The advertisements Coca-Cola released involved people doing things that were outside their comfort zone, such as giving a speech, etc. Then, Taylor Swift is shown drinking a diet coke and her manager comes in to her dressing room, saying the campaign slogan “You’re On.”
However, as Hartman (2014) points out, the print ads are what gives the campaign the negative connotation. In the billboard, for example, the slogan is clearly seen. Behind the slogan, there is the faint outline of a diet coke can and the word ‘diet’ in small, faint red font.
The campaign was receiving a negative connotation as the slogan “you’re on” could reference drugs, which is why the campaign was shut down. Kevin Allen, a reporter for PRDaily, wrote an article about Coca-Cola denied that there was any association with drugs in their new campaign. Allen (2014) mentions how even though the company has denied this, the ads lead observers to think that the slogan is referring to cocaine. Allen also includes a few examples of pictures that people had tweeted about print ads they saw.
I think that Coca-Cola handled the crisis with this campaign as best as they could. In reading some of the comments on the article written by Allen, it seems that the placement of the slogan could be what led to the confusion of the message Coca-Cola was trying to promote.
Overall, in any public relations crisis, social media is very much a part of dealng with said crisis. According to Kalthom Husain, Aida Nasirah, Mastura Ishak, Mohd Fauzi Kamarudin, Anidah Robani, Mohaida Mohin, and Syed Najmuddin Syed Hassan (2014), social media is a medium that shouldn’t be ignored as millions of people use it and are comfortable with their social media presence. Social media has allowed for a person to be able to share a picture or post a status in a matter of minutes. In the case of Coca-Cola, anyone who sees the poster or billboard that they shared in the “You’re On” campaign can share it with the snap of a picture and click of a button.
Social media can have positive or negative effects on a PR crisis. It can be positive because companies can use it to get a press release out or a message to the public in order to correct any damage done through a campaign. However, it can also be negative because, as indicated in the article by Allen, people were able to post on social media in a matter of seconds as they walked past and looked at a poster or a billboard on the street.
Lisa Furgison (2014) wrote a blog post for verticalresponse.com and, in this post, she quoted a social media specialist. This specialist talked about how having a plan in place, responding quickly, being honest and taking responsibility when necessary, and to not argue or delete comments are essential when it comes to dealing with a PR crisis. I agree that these are all things to keep in mind when preparing to do damage control and decide what is the best in dealing with the crisis at hand in order to prevent damage to a company’s reputation and credibility. We always talk about credibility and how important it is to have credible sources. But, credibility can also involve a company that is a prominent figure in the advertising world.
In the PR world, it’s not only the other parts of the company that one has to maintain relations with, it’s also the public as they are the ones buying a product or using a service. Tegan Ford (2013), in her blog post for prconversations.com, that there are a few practices that are crucial in effective crisis management in the social media era. These consist of responding to public at the onset of a crisis, maintaining two-way dialogue, being honest, and listening to the audience, to name a few (Ford 2013.) All ten of the tips for effective crisis management, in my opinion, are good tips to remember because, as stated above, it’s important to remain in touch with the public and listening to what they are talking about and saying about a service or product offered.
Overall, social media is prevalent in today’s society and can be powerful, if used properly. When it comes to dealing with a crisis, PR practitioners should look into utilizing social media more. Social media provides PR practitioners and companies a simple and quick way to reach their audience in order to make them understand that a campaign may not have gone the way they planned and what they will be doing to correct the situation.
Allen, K. (2014). Diet Coke denies new ads include drug references. Retrieved February 8, 2015, from http://www.prdaily.com/crisiscommunications/Articles/16227.aspx
Ford, T. (2013). Making sense of the impact of social media on crisis communication. Retrieved February 8, 2015, from http://www.prconversations.com/index.php/2013/11/making-sense-of-the-impact-of-social-media-on-crisis-communication/
Furgison, L. (2014). How to Handle a Crisis on Social Media | VR Marketing Blog. Retrieved February 8, 2015, from http://www.verticalresponse.com/blog/handling-crisis-on-social-media/
Hartman, M. (2014). Coca-Cola cancels its ‘You’re on. Diet Coke.’ campaign. Retrieved February 8, 2015, from http://www.marketplace.org/topics/business/coca-cola-cancels-its-youre-diet-coke-campaign
Husain, K., Abdullah, A. N., Ishak, M., Kamarudin, M. F., Robani, A., Mohin, M., & Hassan, S. N. S. (2014). A preliminary study on effects of social media in crisis communication from public relations practitioners’ views. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 155, 223-227. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.10.283