Social media debacles are a brand problem

21 Nov 2015

The #YourTaxis hashtag campaign created one of the most commented-on PR fiascos of the year, but the problem isn't really with social media.

It's easy to blame the campaign

BuzzFeed writer Mark Di Stefano had this to say:


Di Stefano isn't wrong - it's garbage. But it's not inherently garbage. This content in one particular slide still rings true:

"Market forces change. Emotional connection doesn't."

While I'd argue that emotional connections can and do change, they rarely do so quickly without something dramatic causing the change.

It's also important to keep in mind that the Victorian Taxi Association are only distancing themselves from the 'concept and execution', not the idea. CEO David Samuel had this to say:

"Unfortunately, the YourTaxis campaign concept and its delivery did not match our intention."

Clearly some part of this plan originated with the VTA and they certainly needed to sign off on it

As always the story will be more complex than reported.


Social media failures are almost always a brand issue

Whether the fundamental problem was with PR agency Ellis Jones, the VTA or some combination of both, the failure wasn't really a campaign problem.

The failure was in not fully comprehending that the "emotional connection" referenced above was overwhelmingly negative.

When your customers utterly loathe you, it's a brand issue. Something that would be discovered with even the shallowest attempt at brand interrogation.


Fix the brand first

The slightest amount of interrogation would've altered one of those slides from the pitch quite dramatically.

From this:
fantasy pitch
To this:
reality pitch


That simple interrogation should have been enough to identify that a crowdsourced feedback campaign would be a disastrous option.

It would have informed them of the desperate need to fix the public perception of the taxi industry's brand reputation. Perhaps a 'contrition campaign' would have been more appropriate.

Nevertheless, it simply underscores the importance of having an holistic understanding of your brand before engaging in social campaigns.


If you can't do that, then stick to the safety of bland, innocuous posts.


Kelsey Brookes

Ex opera singer turned messaging consultant, I position clients through evocative content, craft their user's journey in code and make sure all our technical ducks are in a row.

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