I enjoyed a great chat with NYT correspondent Meraiah Foley a few weeks back – our topic was whether Kraft’s iSnack2.0 really was a PR disaster or not; my view (that it wasn’t) are well-recorded, and Meraiah reports: “Gerry McCusker, who has written a book on public relations disasters, believes Kraft’s experience with iSnack 2.0 will become a useful case study in using controversy to “cut through the clutter” of the marketing space. “Kraft has turned a fairly pedestrian product launch into a matter of public pride and public ownership and affinity for the Vegemite brand,” Mr. McCusker said. “That’s what today’s media thrives on: the conversations, the open expression of opinions, the love, the hate, the passion — and we’re talking about a jar of spread.”
For more about the topics Meraiah and I touched on, you can read the notes I pre-prepped for our chat:Meraiah Foley – International Herald Tribune – Interview Notes: 08.10.09
Advantages of iSnack launch: controversy communications to cut-thru clutter; turn a marketing launch into an issue of public pride and ownership; if you get it wrong – chance to revisit; two bites at launch cherry
Disadvantages: the slings and arrows of criticism; but if you’re thick-skinned enough, create even more coverage – plus, the brand equity in Vegemite makes for brand and marketing resilience
What is a PR disaster? From book; “anything that could catalyse embarrassing or negative publicity for any given organisation”. Institute of Crisis Management definition of crisis: “A significant business disruption that stimulates extensive media coverage”
Conclusion: With iSnack2.0 , there has been no business disruption – 3million jars sold and the new name – Cheesymite – on the tip of everyone’s tongue
As PR, media landscape evolve, the whole concept of PR and reputation become much more fleeting notion, more commoditised. What some erroneously dub “a PR disaster” today, might just prove to be a canny way to ensure cut-thru commentary and conversations – these are the lifeblood of today’s media and therefore the currency for tomorrow’s brands.