Common Brand Decency

When it comes to showing sympathy or celebration for a famous person or event, brands need to remember the fine line between sharing emotion and using the event for advertising.

With the recent death of pop music icon, Prince many people from around the globe took to social media to express their condolences, sadness and love for him. Included in these posts, were expressions from celebrities including Oprah, The US President, Gabriel Macht, among others. Many celebrity artists took to the stage to perform some of Prince’s popular songs as a tribute to his life. Iconic landmarks and buildings were lit in purple, again in memory of the Prince of pop.

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Brands did it too. Some got it right. But many failed. What it basically comes down to is whether brands were genuinely showing their heartfelt condolences for the star or if they saw this as a great way to jump onto the #RIPPrince bandwagon? There is a fine line between being sincere and condescending.

A few examples include the popular cellotape brand, 3M that decided to change its logo to purple. And add in a tear. Is this a way for the brand to get complete exposure or is this simply an example of a brand that’s sincerely paying tribute? A lot of Twitter users thought the former.

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Getty Images took the opportunity to advertise that they have Prince images for sale. Seeing as everyone is going to be posting about him anyway, they may as well purchase images. Using Prince’s death to capitalise on their own brand just shows a lack of common brand decency.

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Chevrolet’s tribute to the star was quite clever, playing on the lyrics of “Little Red Corvette”. The relevance to the brand in the song makes this tribute a little closer to the brand’s heart than say, 3M or Cheerios for example.

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The main take-out of this for brands is to remember that they want to be treated like “humans”. They define their personalities, tone of voice, cultural backgrounds, beliefs and so on. And in order for any real human being to treat them with respect, they have to adopt a bit of common brand decency.

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