More and more brands are taking advantage of user-generated content and viral moments to drive business growth. For example, when a video of 37-year-old Idaho potato farm laborer Nathan Apodaca, affectionately known as Doggface, went viral for listening to Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" while longboarding to work and drinking Ocean Spray juice, the cranberry juice manufacturer saw its sales skyrocket.
However, it's important for brands to use discretion when attaching themselves to social media trends and challenges, and not leverage moments that could hurt customers or damage a brand. If a company finds itself subject to unwanted attention, due to consumers using their products irresponsibly, it's important for brands to reinforce instruction for use, express empathy for any victims and try to help resolve the issue at hand.
Below are two companies that responded responsibly in cases where their products were used in ways that could be harmful:
Gorilla Glue's Sticky Situation
When 40-year old Tessica Brown went viral for using Gorilla Glue, instead of Got2b Glued Blasting Freeze Hairspray to style her hair, the adhesive company saw its sales surge. On Amazon, search volume for the brand grew by an outstanding 4,378 percent, translating to a significant boost in sales.
Despite Brown's tragedy being a benefit to Gorilla Glue, the company responsibly addressed her circumstances in a way that was instructive and helpful. In an official statement Gorilla Glue expressed the following:
"We are aware of the situation and we are very sorry to hear about the unfortunate incident that Miss Brown experienced using our Spray Adhesive on her hair. This is a unique situation because this product is not indicated for use in or on hair as it is considered permanent. Our spray adhesive states in the warning label 'do not swallow. Do not get in eyes, on skin or on clothes...' It is used for craft, home, auto or office projects to mount things to surfaces such as paper, cardboard, wood, laminate and fabric.
We are glad to see in her recent video that Miss Brown has received medical treatment from her local medical facility and wish her the best."
With this statement, Gorilla Glue re-affirmed how its product was intended to be used, demonstrating how this use is made explicitly clear absolving themselves of responsibility, while still empathizing with Brown unfortunate circumstance.
When Tide saw its Tide pods being used in a viral challenge, where people would upload videos of themselves trying to ingest its pods filled with washing machine and dishwasher soap, they took a proactive media campaign approach to discourage others from participating.
The company enlisted the help of YouTube to remove all Tide Pod challenge videos from its platform. It also leveraged its social channels to create shareable memes to further bring awareness to the proper use of its products.
Moreover, Tide recruited peer-level influencers to help drive its safety message. The brand called on New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who appeared in a video published on Tide's Twitter feed reminding young people that the pods weren't for consumption.
Source: "How These Brands Responded After Going Viral for the Wrong Reasons," ANA, 2021.