The video has quickly gone viral, attracting thousands of views online and fast becoming the talk of social media.
However, Channel 4 is not the only brand to turn negative comments into a positive marketing campaign. Both KFC and more recently Carlsberg, have both promoted negative social media comments to send a clear to message to fans before launching new products – effectively stating “we heard your complaints and we responded.” On this occasion though, Channel 4 shows no signs of remorse and is not promising to change its television content; moreover, it is grateful for the comments which it believes demonstrates that the brand is achieving its mission of being an alternative broadcaster.
What does this mean for marketing?
Ask any marketing or public relations professional what to do in the event of a brand being the subject of bad news and they’ll all give you a similar answer (or at least the good ones will!) – don’t deny an accusation that is correct. Admit it, apologise, demonstrate guilt and importantly, communicate how you will do things differently moving forward. Such advice is exactly what KFC and Carlsberg followed when they confidently said to their audiences you don’t like our products. We hear you. We’re changing them. It’s sound advice but as Channel 4 demonstrates, perhaps it’s no longer enough.
In today’s digital age, consumers and more importantly, customers, have easier access to businesses than they have ever had before and as social media has proven throughout the past few years – mass complaints can force action. But more than that, the uptake of digital technologies means that even large corporations such as Channel 4 are no longer able to hide behind their own status. Customers now expect the human touch from businesses, a personalised and digitised customer experience and instant feedback.
Channel 4 demonstrates this in a powerful way. It shows that executives have the humbleness and the self-esteem required to laugh at themselves, perhaps one of the most human traits of all. The fact is, the business has followed some other sound marketing advice – ensure brand consistency at all times. Even as far back as 1982 when it launched, Channel 4 has confidently stated that it exists to do television differently. It’s a vision the business has retained throughout the past 37 years and now, in the digital age, it has more proof than ever that it is delivering on this aim.
As the saying goes if you haven’t offended somebody by noon each day, then you aren’t marketing hard enough. The fact is, Channel Four understands its audience in such depth that it welcomes criticism. In the eyes of the brand, if you’re offended then it’s not for you. Those who aren’t offended are exactly the people we’re targeting and it demonstrates that we are marketing our product and producing content effectively.