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Indecision: A new type of Hallmark Moment

A Hallmark moment used to be one that is perfect for a card. Well, this one isn’t.

In December, Hallmark waffled on their decision whether to accept an ad featuring a same sex couple wedding.  At first, they said they wouldn’t accept it because it was controversial, then they changed their minds and “re-established” a partnership with Zola, the advertiser who created the spots.

This is a decision that more and more advertisers will have to make in the future:  What to do when controversial topics are raised, either by the media they advertise on, or by partners.

USAA, a financial and insurance company that provides services to servicemen and women and their families had their own waffling Hallmark moment in 2017, when they pulled ads from a Fox News program, but then later reinstated them after its Conservative customers protested.

ESPN has been trying to stay neutral in the push and pull between players trying to get attention for social causes, and more conservative team owners resisting.  It's hard to stay neutral in this polarized environment.

Communication planners don’t just have to take into account the demographics of the brand being advertised, they also have to deal with the political and social profile of the brand’s users. Even more important, the heavier users, the most loyal users, might be more conservative than the rest.  That means that the wrong media decision could have severe consequences for the brand.

Is your brand prepared so it doesn’t have its own waffling Hallmark moment?  Do you choose media that is appropriate for the social beliefs of your target?  You need to be prepared, you need to understand your user base in a new way, or you too will have your own Hallmark moment.   If you need help in figuring out what to do, I can help, email me.

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Karen Tibbals @KarenTibbals

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