The Ad Feature with Jonathan Cherry

Is negative publicity always a bad thing?

Large companies usually have a public relations and media office to help maintain the image of their brand, especially in times of negative publicity.

But what is the impact of negative publicity?

According to an old study by researchers at Stanford University, the purpose of advertising is twofold: to let one know that their product is superior to others, or simply to let you know that they exist.

They looked at the sales of authors based on negative reviews, and found that if the author was well-known, then projected sales figures would be negatively affected, but if the author was unknown, the fact that the book was even reviewed stirred interest, and book sales went up.

The simple conclusion from this was that if a brand is well established, negative publicity will affect then negatively, but for an unknown firm, the publicity will create awareness of their presence and can help.

One thinks back to the Woolworths vs Frankies soft drinks saga, which propelled Frankies into the spotlight and helped them gain a foothold in the market.

More recently, researchers at the University of Stellenbosch concluded that consumers don't care much and aren't affected when big businesses have their logos ripped off in parodies or on T-shirts.

One merely has to remember the legal battle between SA Breweries and Laugh It Off, for the rip-off of the Carling Black Label logo.The matter went all the way to the Constitutional Court, which ruled in favour of the T-shirt maker.

More recently, local comedians Derick Watts and the Sunday Blues had 4.5million youtube views of its #stoptheknot video - which was mainly due to negative publicity - but it certainly helped in letting people know about them and their work.

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Listen to the full conversation with Jonathan Cherry here:

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