#AskRachel for Marketing Advice
On Friday and into the weekend, social media skewered Rachel Dolezal, the NAACP Spokane Washington branch president, after her parents publicly said the black activist was white. However, there may be lessons marketers can learn from the resulting satirical hashtag, #AskRachel.
"Her Montana birth certificate says she was born to two parents who say they are Caucasian," CNN writes in a site post updated on Saturday. "The parents shared that document and old photos with CNN."
— Dan Alexander (@GrandpaDanK) June 13, 2015
1. Don’t Pretend to Be Something You’re Not. Even if the fake you isn’t hurting anyone, it’s going to take a long time to regain consumer trust — if you ever can at all. For instance, while the first word out of consumers’ mouths upon hearing “McDonald’s” probably was never “healthy,” for a while it was probably just “confusing.” As a result, in January 2015, the fast-food giant did away with menu items such as “the honey mustard Snack Wrap, chipotle BBQ Snack Wrap, bacon habanero ranch Quarter Pounder, bacon and cheese Quarter Pounder, premium chicken club sandwich and premium ranch BLT chicken sandwich,” CNBC reports. In April 2015, the International Business Times reports the Golden Arches’ Q1 revenue met analyst expectations and share prices rose, as the company’s new CEO and president says McDonald’s is acting quickly to meet consumers’ needs.
2. Don’t Put Others In the Position of Defending Your Decisions. The NAACP, an activist group with a long history of advocacy on behalf of African-Americans, ended up in the position of essentially publicly forgiving Dolezal. To say the situation is hurting public perception of the brand is an understatement.
"One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership," reads part of the NAACP's Friday statement. "The NAACP Alaska-Oregon-Washington State Conference stands behind Ms. Dolezal’s advocacy record."
— MADDI MADD (@MADDIMADD) June 14, 2015
3. Don’t Do Something Awful Just Because You Can. Think about the impact of what you’re doing — if not on consumers, then at least on you if it blows up in your face. As Target Marketing blogger Stephen H. Yu writes in March 2015, Target sent coupons to a high school girl for baby clothes and cribs. Her father hadn’t yet known she was pregnant. While this type of predictive modeling can increase sales, it may not always be welcome. Yu provides another example.
“I received a call from my mother a few years ago asking me if this ‘urgent’ letter that says her car warranty will expire if she does not act ‘right now’ (along with a few exclamation marks) is something to which she must respond immediately,” Yu writes. “Many of us by now are impervious to such fake urgencies or outrageous claims (like ‘You've just won $10,000,000!!!’). But I then realized that there still are plenty of folks who would spend their hard-earned dollars based on such misleading messages. What really made me mad, other than the fact that my own mother was involved in that case, was that someone must have actually targeted her based on her age, ethnicity, housing value and, of course, the make and model of her automobile. I've been doing this job for too long to be unaware of potential data variables and techniques that must have played a part so that my mother to receive a series of such letters. Basically, some jerk must have created a segment that could be named as ‘old and gullible.’ Without a doubt, this is a classic example of what should not be done just because one can.”
What other lessons can marketers learn from the Rachel Dolezal situation?
Please respond in the comments section below.