When Life Gives Lemons…

how to use marketing to turn crisis into opportunity

Is it Friday already? Times are a-flyin’.

Here are three interesting examples of what brands did when life threw them lemons. Some squeezed the hell out of them to make lemonade. Others, well…

“WOW! NO COW! 🐮”

In July 2020, Swedish milk company Oatly’s valuation skyrocketed to $2 billion.

An interesting Twitter thread highlighted how the company leveraged shrewd marketing to turn crises into massive opportunities instead of crying over split milk.

Three key takeaways:

  • John Schoolcraft felt his best work as a copywriter and creative director at the top advertising agencies got ruined by marketing directors. So at Oatly, he dismantled the marketing department and instead, built a creative team that works on everything from product innovation to supply chain to package design.
  • In 2015, the Swedish dairy lobby sued Oatly for their slogan that declared regular milk as old-fashioned and outdated. In response, Oatly ran full-page ads in all the Swedish newspapers publishing the lawsuit, telling everyone that the milk lobby resorted to bullying because it felt threatened. This generated huge sales for Oatly.
  • Later, they launched ridiculous TV campaigns where CEO Toni Petersson sang, “WOW NO COW,” repeatedly while playing a keyboard in the middle of a field.

Bottomline: Oatly doesn’t think like the rest. It examines and refines every aspect of its marketing and operations to make a huge dent in a stale industry.


COVID—19 Public Art Shows

Art and advertising took a severe hit as museums remained shut and billboards lay vacant in the wake of COVID—19. Then NYC decided to bring art to everyone.

  • 1,800 billboards around the city illuminated with public artworks related to COVID—19.
  • The posters promoted messages of positivity, solidarity, and gratitude.
  • The idea was for organizations to contribute to the spirit of togetherness and support those battling the deadly virus on the front lines.

Bottomline: Marketing can be more than sticking to your brand positioning. Gestures that spread positive messages generate plenty of goodwill.


How to Make PR Crises Worse 🤦🏻‍♂️

Efforts to hide, remove, or censor online information backfire and make things worse for the would-be censor. This is known as the Streisand Effect.

Here are three examples:

  • A political party’s attempt to suppress a hashtag that tarnished its image made the hashtag go viral.
  • An international superstar’s attempt to get a photo of her mansion removed from the internet led to the obscure photo getting over a million views.
  • An electronics manufacturer’s attempt to suppress a YouTube video about its phone battery burning led to the video getting viewed 1.2 million times within a week.

Bottomline: Many businesses waste energy on the futile attempt to “manage” their brand perception when they would be better off “shaping” it by owning up and fixing things when they go wrong.


Have a nice weekend ☕️

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