Millage: Protect your brand when making ad decisions

By Mark Millage, regional director at Media Minefield

“The keys to brand success are self-definition, transparency, authenticity and accountability.”

— Simon Mainwaring

Advertisers have been in the hot seat lately, having to make tough decisions in an effort to protect their brands.

Mark Millage

More than 50 advertisers pulled their ads from “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News after a New York Times report April 1 uncovered settlements with five women who accused Bill O’Reilly of sexual harassment or verbal abuse. Only two months earlier, O’Reilly seemed untouchable as he hosted an exclusive interview with President Trump during the Super Bowl LI pre-game. By mid-April, however, Fox News announced it had officially cut ties with its biggest star.

Major consumer brands were compelled to pull their ads from YouTube recently after learning they were running ahead of racist, homophobic and extremist content. While digital and social media provides a less-expensive way to reach consumers, this example highlights the danger of not protecting the brand. About 400 hours of content is uploaded to YouTube every minute of every day! Without adequate safeguards, you are playing Russian roulette with your reputation.

While these are high-profile examples, companies of all sizes have to make similar decisions each day. Should they sponsor an activity or event, partner with another business, refer clients to another company? Here is how we at Media Minefield advise our clients to make these decisions.

It starts with knowing who you are as a company and what you believe in. We refer to these as core values or key messages. If aligning with a company or show or video doesn’t support who you say you are, it will damage your brand. Messages, internally to employees and externally to customers, need to be consistent.

Public perception is king. In the case of O’Reilly, he was never charged with a crime. Still in the mind of the public, advertising on his show was supporting him, and therefore, turning a blind eye to what he was accused of doing. Ads running ahead of extremist YouTube videos insinuate the company supports those messages. Consumers want to do business and spend money with companies they believe in, with values that are aligned with their own. As a brand, you cannot ignore that reality.

When faced with these decisions, we recommend that you have strong brand messaging. Use these opportunities to reinforce your core values and key messages. Will everyone like your decisions? Of course not. But follow our suggestions, and as a business leader, you can rest easy knowing your brand reputation is safe.

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Millage: Protect your brand when making ad decisions

Advertisers have been in the hot seat lately, having to make tough decisions in an effort to protect their brands.

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