When silence is golden.


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Last month, several noteworthy brands rose up on the anniversary of 9/11 to get a word in. No doubt you’ve seen a few examples.

I’m not talking about horribly misguided advertising (like the ad pictured here). I’m talking about brands, however well intentioned, that felt it necessary to say anything at all. The butter brand, the laundry detergent, the car dealership vowing they will “never forget.”

Can we agree running this ad was a bad idea?

Can we agree running this ad was a bad idea?

The sentiment expressed by these brands seemed genuine. But were they appropriate? Wedged between quirky photos of cat memes and 10% limited-time offers, is it really necessary to distill one of our nation’s most life-altering events down to a 140-character tweet or a trending hashtag?

As I mentioned in this blog post from a few months back on the practice of “newsjacking,” tragedy is not an opportunity to build social currency. It’s not something to leverage, tap into, or harness in the name of making a brand statement. It’s not something that helps your audience or makes your brand more relevant to your consumer.

The default action among many brands in social seems to be to “over contribute”–to say something just because they think they “should.” To me, brands that insist on interjecting themselves into every passing news event is like the blowhard at the cocktail party you try your best to avoid. He figures as long as his mouth is moving, he must be saying something worth listening to. Sorry, that’s usually not the case.

What would be appropriate messaging for an occasion such as a 9/11 anniversary? If you’re using the occasion to launch a fund to cover medical bills of first responders, then tweeting that out would be relevant and useful.

But for most brands, such occasions provide an opportunity to go dark. To take a time-out from your regularly scheduled content. To fight the urge to “say something” even if it sounds like it came straight out of a greeting card.

Give people the space and time they need to self-reflect and catch their breath. Your brand doesn’t have to be right in there to “stand in solidarity” beside them.

Sometimes, saying nothing is the most profound statement of all.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mickey Lonchar
Mickey Lonchar has spent the better part of two decades creating award-winning advertising with agencies up and down the West Coast, Mickey currently holds the position of creative director with Quisenberry Marketing & Design, a full-service advertising and interactive shop with offices in Spokane and Seattle, Wash.


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