Whenever I got into childhood arguments with my dad, he would always win by saying, “There’s your version, my version and the truth.” When brands are looking for engagement, should they look for a good brawl, a la Taylor Swift and Kanye West, or stick with the truth?
The reason I say “childhood” is the attention around the Taylor/West “feud” seems childish, at times. On Twitter, it’s almost as though you can hear fans chanting “fight, fight, fight.”
it was so funny to watch Taylor Swift try to throw shade at Kanye. she didn't even sound right.
— ✨Laura Winslow✨ (@kayeye2theayee_) February 17, 2016
A quick backgrounder: During Swift’s acceptance speech for album of the year at the Grammys on Monday, she made what is being characterized as a feminist speech that seemed to take a jab at West. In lyrics on his new album, West had claimed some responsibility for making Swift famous, probably dating back to an incident in 2009, when he interrupted Swift’s acceptance speech for a different award to say that Beyoncé’s video was actually better than Swift’s.
West now claims that he had Swift’s permission for the claim he put to music, but Swift’s camp denies it. Somewhere in there may lay the truth. Will we ever know? Does it matter?
What good would it do for brands to act like feuding celebrities? Let’s take a look:
Does It Help to Pick a Fight?
Or settle one? Swift and West trended on Twitter on Tuesday and Wednesday. “Once again,” writes the Independent on Tuesday, “Swift’s messages of empowerment and, perhaps most importantly, her achievements as a female artist have been obscured by Twitter rants, celebrity in-fighting and the overpowering glow of ‘Brand Taylor,’ with the #girlsquad as her backdrop. Perhaps that’s what she wanted all along. After all, you can say what you like about Taylor Swift, but she’s a PR genius.” To that end, her album is No. 2 on iTunes.
And while his video is No. 2 on Tidal, did the public rants really benefit West's bottom line? Seemingly, not so much. “Kanye West's New Album Has Already Gone Pirate 'Gold,' With 500,000 Illegal Downloads In a Single Day,” reports Business Insider on Tuesday. Perhaps it has to do with the type of attention the feud is getting?
The main other story showing on Google Trends was Paul McCartney being denied entrance to a Grammy party. Rapper Tyga didn’t have McCartney on the list, you see, so the Beatle joked, “How VIP do we gotta get? We need another hit.”
Do Something Purposefully Offensive?
Insult a woman, as West did. This tactic of being offensive on purpose may arguably work for celebrities, but it didn’t seem to benefit Urban Outfitters and GoDaddy. The clothing retailer pulled what looked like a blood-stained Kent State University sweatshirt in 2014, after consumers disliked the reference to four unarmed students being gunned down in 1970 by the Ohio National Guard.
And in 2015, GoDaddy pulled a Super Bowl commercial that showed a puppy being sold online after the lost canine’s long quest to return “home.”
So, will marketers use these tactics? If so, how? What are some examples of any publicity being good publicity?
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