How Brands Took Advantage of the Tube Strike Buzz & Other Misfortunes

As the saying goes, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Some brands have adopted this sort of philosophy in their latest advertising in the UK Market, in light of the recent Tube strike last week which left London’s crucial public transportation system closed for 48 hours. In response to the transportation shutdown, Adidas tweeted this advertisement:

Adidas seized this unfortunate circumstance as an opportunity to advertise its footwear and encourage its followers to tweet pictures of them running to work with the hashtag #boostlondon. Nike wasn’t far behind, tweeting at their followers with their popular slogan to “Just Do It” and encouraging them to run to work. Even local businesses sought to get in on the Twitter buzz surrounding the Tube strike, including the Pizza Express in Central London offering 40% off to customers willing to brave the chaos and commute to work downtown.

Let’s face it, what do you do when you’re stuck waiting for the bus? You’re probably on your smartphone checking your social media profiles.  It was a smart move to reach these potential customers in this way and inject some much needed humor into their otherwise unfortunate commute.

However, for the few brands that are able to do it right, there are inevitably ones that are going to completely #fail. Rewind a couple years to 2011 and the political conflict that was going on in Egypt. Kenneth Cole tweeted that “millions are in uproar in #Cairo” for Kenneth Cole’s new spring collection. While the tweet was quickly taken down and apologies were issued, the damage had already been done.

The key here is, of course, sensitivity. Getting involved with a contentious issue is generally something to steer clear of, but injecting creative humor to make an inconvenient circumstance more lighthearted is fair game, so long as the impact is clearly thought out.  In a world where it’s easy for marketing campaigns to be the same ol’ same ol’, a little creativity and good timing stand out among the crowd.

Published February 12, 2014 by Luke Severn.
Categories: Social Media