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Touching or Tacky: When Brands Should & Shouldn’t Comment on Current Events

Touching or Tacky: When Brands Should & Shouldn’t Comment on Current Events

Prince’s death came as a big shock to music lovers around the world. News that the 57 year old musician had passed away caused instant headlines and a massive outpouring of grief on social media. In the midst of it all, Cheerios, which is based out of Minnesota, Prince’s home state, Tweeted an image that featured a purple background and the words “Rest in Peace” with a Cheerio in the place of the dot over the i.

The backlash was immediate and fierce. General Mills, Cheerios’ parent company, pulled the Tweet down almost immediately, and subsequently issued an apology. Yet other brands, including Google, 3M and Pixar, released messaging mourning Prince’s passing without evoking a similar negative response.

[Tweet “Marketing is both an art and a science.”]

What’s the difference? It’s hard to say. Cheerios did use a product image in their post, but 3M and Pixar’s tributes included their logos altered in homage to Prince. 3M changed their logo to Prince’s trademark purple, while Pixar replaced the I in their name with the symbol Prince used during the period when he was identified as ‘the artist formally known as Prince’.

Marketing is both an art and a science, and Cheerios was absolutely in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t position. Ignoring the passing of a hometown icon wasn’t going to do, yet the post they made garnered a hostile reaction. Chevrolet also used a product shot in their memorial Tweet, but it was of the little red Corvette Prince memorably sang about. The takeaway may be that one should avoid using product shots in memorial posts unless there is an inarguably well-known and positive association between the product and the person. Had Prince had a well-loved song about Cheerios, surely the Tweet in question would have garnered hearts instead of hatred.

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Creative Director/Senior Designer

Tom DiGrazia

With over a decade and a half of professional design experience, Tom brings his knowledge of design principles and focus on user experience to every aspect of his contribution to TTG. Paying special attention to each client’s brand, personalized needs and individual interests, he strives to create compelling concepts utilizing intuitive and highly-refined design solutions. In addition to traditional and digital design work and oversight at TTG, Tom also boasts a wide portfolio of web development projects with the company, allowing him to stretch his CSS and HTML skills across multiple platforms and disciplines. He feels that being a designer in the digital landscape of websites, eCommerce solutions, email marketing platforms and social media, it is important to understand the code that goes into these areas as it assists his ability to tailor designs specifically targeted to achieve the best end result and further builds understanding and communication with backend development teams.

In his off hours, Tom is an avid pop culture enthusiast, staying up to date on the latest shows, films, comics and games. He can also typically be found taking part in a whole host of artistic activities that help him further stretch his creative legs. Regardless of the activity, Tom is always accompanied by his dog, Eli, and his cat, Tib.

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Courtney Dumont

As Senior Marketing Strategist & Analyst at Technology Therapy Group, Courtney is energized by the ability to flex both her left and right brain daily. Courtney discovered her passion for Marketing at Bryant University, where she spearheaded research on students’ perceptions of Social Media Marketing for her Honors Capstone Project. After graduating Bryant in 2012, she joined the Technology Therapy team, where she’s honed her skills in social media, search and social advertising, email marketing, SEO, and more.

Since joining the team, Courtney has created digital marketing strategies and managed campaigns for clients across the country, ranging from plastic surgery centers, to jewelry stores, to construction companies. With a cohesive, cross-channel approach and a focus on data-driven decision making, she has increased their leads by up to 217%. But Courtney doesn’t leave her zeal for social media at the office; she also runs a local foodie Instagram account with her husband to document their meals across Rhode Island and beyond. Check them out: @hoppilyfed.

Marketing Strategy, Data Analysis, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Social Media

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