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Dec 6, 2019    Burn Book

How to Avoid Tone-Deaf Content That Can Ruin Your Brand


It’s interesting how close anthropology and digital marketing are aligned. Both having to do with the study of humans and how they think and behave in their environments, it’s a topic that deserves some attention. A topic, that if you can develop a firm grasp of, affords you several opportunities.

Anthropologist Advertising

When you think about it, it makes perfect sense why growth consultants and advertising specialists would be considered anthropologists. The scattered crowds and audiences we are trying to appeal to, in one way or another, align themselves with the social structures found in modern-day culture.

A digital agency not being familiar with current trends and perspectives is like an inexperienced shmuck trying to join the circus as a lion tamer. *Spoiler alert* that lion is going chomp your face off before it goes through any ring of fire your pointing at. And creating a marketing strategy is no different.

If you try to create a marketing initiative or a piece of content strategy without having a firm grasp on the current cultural climate, you might just end up getting your face bitten off by the public. We’ve seen this happen multiple times with companies like Pepsi and their incredibly ignorant ad campaign featuring Kendall Jenner. And more recently with Peloton and their holiday spot featuring a wife who’s depicted purpose in life is to get fit for her husband.

As you may have heard or can imagine, these didn’t go over too well. While Pepsi bounced back from their uneducated attempt to strike a chord, Peloton’s more recent blunder made their stock drop by 9% in just one day. Not what you want to see going into the holidays. A content marketing plan that they spent a large budget on, and intended to reap big returns, ended up costing them. By $942 million to be exact.

At this point, you can understand the importance of having a keen, introspective, and highly detailed interpretation of the cultural world your digital marketing agency is attempting to appeal to. The following is how you develop this educated perspective.

Listen to Your English Teacher

Data research consultants and market analysts make studying culture harder than it seems. They attempt to assign numbers and values to how people feel and respond. When in reality, you need to be interpreting feelings and behaviors for what they are — raw human emotions. And the only way to better understand those emotions is by reading and listening to the thoughts of the people around you.

Like your old English teacher used to say, “just read.” Dedicate a certain amount of time every day to read the news and articles circulating in your sector. But don’t just digest what the article is saying, go a step further and look into how people are responding to it. What are they sounding off about in the comments? Read enough between the lines and you’ll slowly start to develop a better idea of what to say and what not to say.

But staying up to date on recent news isn’t the only thing you have to do to keep your perspectives fresh. In order to really understand the best way to approach an audience, you need to interact with them.

Testing the Waters

Whether it’s with your clients or the markets you’re trying to reach, you can’t be afraid to engage and push some buttons. At Rock Candy Media, we were able to bootstrap our digital advertising agency by directly engaging with our clients in an open and non-censored manner. By not filtering what we say and how we respond we get ideas that float more naturally. Ideas that will actually resonate with people because they were inspired by emotion, not numbers or black and white statistics.

When it’s not your clients you’re learning from, and you need to engage the digital masses that live and thrive online, you create content. Content that is new and exciting and poses questions that people may not have considered. Content that challenges perspectives and creates new ones. And you listen to what people are saying and how they’re reacting to help optimize your ideas.

Once you’ve tapped into the minds of the consumers, you’re free to do anything. You know the exact temperature to present an idea. You know what to keep your hands off of and what might be worth taking a chance on. But it takes practice. Practice and experience that we’ve got a lot of at Rock Candy Media. Interested in developing a culturally defining idea of your own? Let’s talk about it.

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