Perhaps one of the largest handicaps in the marketing world is a homogeneous creative team. This is particularly true when hoping to reach diverse or dissimilar audiences. I like to call it “Because-I-Said-So Marketing,” its marketing that is so tone deaf and devoid of research that it makes the target market question not only the message, but the company, the product and marketing agency. It is marketing that believes it can tell its market anything and they willingly accept it without question.
“Because-I-Said-So Marketing,” its marketing that is so tone deaf and devoid of research that it makes the target market question not only the message, but the company, the product and marketing agency.
Such rigid ideas about advertising, messaging and campaigns are often crafted by people unfamiliar with the target group with low cultural IQ. And many companies who do employ diverse marketing staffs, also suffer from the same issues, because they do not empower those professionals to influence final outcomes.
Low cultural IQ is a low capacity or will to translate ideas into culturally appropriate concepts that resonate with the target market. And often such off-center marketing is borne from a kind of arrogance that stuffs a marketing campaign with cultural clichés, tongue in cheek buzz words and surface platitudes without expecting serious repercussions. More and more such campaigns are falling flat, as modern consumer are more educated on his/her right to buy or not. We will look at three case studies on marketing that went south.
Dolce & Gabbana – Low Cultural IQ
Gucci made one of its most shocking and ugly gaffes in recent years during the early stages of the Sino-US trade-war in 2018. The luxury fashion brand released an ad with an Asian woman attempting to eat spaghetti with chopsticks. The ad drew the immediate outrage and contempt of many and resulted in a Chinese boycott of Dolce & Gabbana stores as well as disowning and destroying D&C merchandise.
More and more such campaigns are falling flat, as modern consumer are more educated on his/her right to buy or not.
Even though the company raced to apologize and withdraw the ad, irreparable damage had already been done. What was the mistake? Low cultural IQ. Many people will never see Dolce & Gabbana the same again—and that makes particular sense in marketing, because the ad was approved at several levels of authorization before release. So we can extrapolate that no one within the company infrastructure possessed the cultural IQ to catch this gaping gaff.
Shea Moisture – Outlier Marketing
After its partnership, the famous Black beauty brand Shea moisture got a new marketing team. Unfortunately that team created an ad that offended millions of its loyal customers. It was another case of “Because I Said So” marketing.
Messaging is a big part of marketing, and knowing your market is the first rule of thumb in marketing. This company’s marketing team was unable to see the disconnect between their message and their actual market. In marketing, you have to know your market and cater to it. The result left many of its customers questioning everything. Shea Moisture made the mistake of catering to the outliers in its market, rather than its core support. Its a pretty common concept in all campaigns. Never offend your base—even if there are outliers from other markets that use your product ans service.
There will always be market outliers and overlap, and these small groups are OK with the messaging NOT being for them. They have been drawn to your market for a specific reason that goes beyond marketing and messaging. Maybe they find the product useful, or they have needs outside of their group that can only be addressed in another market.
Quibi – Top Heavy Celebrity Marketing
Founded in 2018, Quibi was valued at nearly 2 billion dollars supported with an impressive array of celebrities and high powered C-suite executives. As a premium steaming service and launched in April 2020, Quibi had every reason to succeed. In just six months, the streaming service would be shuttered, and that during a time when streaming services had hit an all-time high. In fact, nobody had anything else to do in the lock-down except watch streaming service. What was the error? Unclear and ambiguous messaging, driven by celebrities that made the product seem exclusive and un-relatable. In marketing, unless you’re selling a really, really bad product (and you know its bad), ambiguity is not a good thing. This is not the first time the tech community has sunk millions into a project that went flat. Entrepreneurs take note: Tech venture capital supports its friends, not necessarily the best or most marketable products–and that in itself is a mistake.
Overall, companies are learning more and more that not all campaigns are created equal. Insulting the intelligence of your target market will only damage your brand. So if you cannot be culturally sensitive or understand diverse markets, hire someone who can. These gaffs were unnecessary and easily avoidable. Gone are the days when marketing teams could ram through insensitive, tone deaf ads and still turn a profit and retain a market. With the advent of social media and the internet, consumers are not ignorant or silent. The days of “Because I Said So,” marketing is fast becoming a thing of the past.