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Marketing Tips

Sensitivity around brand launches

By August 7, 2020No Comments

Do your research 

In branding, there are many fundamentals that often take months, if not years, to perfect in order to cultivate and communicate the vision of the product or service. You need to give extreme attention to detail and intention of what you want the target audience to feel when they look at the product or website for the first time. 

Sometimes, though, companies can miss certain details and sensitivities around brand messaging which can create conflict, and even backlash from the public, once they realize something has been ignored or disregarded. 

Recently, Ford Motor Company was excited to announce the launch of the 2021 Ford Bronco, after retiring the model in 1996. However, they failed to research the actual launch date. What Ford would later realize is that the launch date would have serious pop culture backlash. 

Context around the launch

The original reveal date was supposed to be in March 2020, but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Ford announced the launch of the new Bronco, on the same day as O.J. Simpson’s birthday (July 9). 

The Ford Bronco will always be associated with the former NFL player and pop culture phenomenon as Simpson famously led police on a high profile chase in his own white Ford Bronco following the deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ron Goldman in 1994. The Ford launch came 26 years after the infamous police chase of Simpson in the white Bronco. 

Ford had to scramble to change the launch date

“The reveal of the all-new Ford Bronco lineup will now happen on Monday, July 13. The previously targeted date of July 9 unintentionally coincided with O.J. Simpson’s birthday. We wanted to be sensitive and respectful of this concern,” Mark Truby said, VP of Communications for Ford Motor Company. 

Lessons to learn

Even though an executive at Ford announced that the launch date of July 9 was unintentional, it still bothered the public that the company hadn’t properly investigated the date of the launch. People felt it was inconsiderate that Ford would release the Bronco on O.J. Simpson’s birthday as both the murder trial and the car chase were fairly problematic topics.

This is a classic example of Ford’s marketing team not doing proper research on all aspects of a brand or product launch. It is also a good reminder that it is always worth it to go the extra mile to check dates, and language confusion, before going public with a brand or product! 

Chris Slocumb

Author Chris Slocumb

Chris is the founder of Clarity Quest Marketing and Chief Growth Officer of Supreme Group. To learn more about Chris' experiences and qualifications, visit our leadership team page.

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