Twitter exploded on Sunday after a truck commercial aired during the Super Bowl. The ad got a lot of attention because it used a Martin Luther King Jr. voice over. With the Super Bowl being such an important event for advertisers, and a captive audience of millions, I’m surprised Dodge took such a risk. Especially during Black History Month.
I believe one reason so many people are upset over the commercial is that the words Dodge used were taken from Dr. King’s “Drum Major Instinct” sermon, which specifically discouraged people from giving in to the powers of advertisers. Did Dodge know this? I would have hoped they’d done some research and listened to the entire speech before running such a commercial in front of millions of people. If they did, I can’t understand why they went ahead and used it.
But, this blog isn’t meant to start a big debate over whether or not Dodge did a terrible thing. What it’s meant to be, is an example of why it’s so important for you to make sure you’re using messaging in your marketing that will not be offensive to anyone.
I’ve written many times about the importance of knowing your target audience and using language and content that resonates with them; but, I’ve not written much about the flip side. About avoiding topics and language that may be offensive to a segment of the population.Are you unintentionally offending your audience?Click To Tweet
Here is a simple guide you can use when drafting content, that may help avoid unintentionally offending your audience:
- Avoid politics. This is asking for trouble.
- Avoid religion. Again. Religion is a risky topic to use in marketing.
- Don’t use offensive language.
- Don’t post things that could be interpreted as racist or sexist.
- Don’t use sexual innuendo to sell a product that has nothing to do with intimacy.
- Be culturally sensitive. Remember you may have people from different cultures reading your messaging, and they might not understand references or innuendo you’re including.
- Don’t make assumptions about your audience. If your target audience is moms, they might still be offended by the fact that a business only ever depicts women doing housework, or men going out every day to earn a paycheck.
- Have someone read over your marketing material before you roll it out.
A lot of people today are talking about that commercial and about Dr. King. Maybe that was Dodge’s plan all along. I don’t know, though. I think it was quite a bold move.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your take on whether this was good or bad messaging for Dodge.
Also published on Medium.
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