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Do polarizing campaigns deliver results?

A bizarre media report here in our great hometown of Pittsburgh this weekend really had me scratching my head.

Apparently a local advertising firm developed what several business and community leaders consider an offensive campaign for a restaurant that “provides beautiful food simply prepared to be shared with family and friends.” Problem is, the ad campaign didn’t exactly jibe with the brand. As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, “sexual innuendo cross(ed) the line into bad taste.” (In its defense, the ad firm’s president noted that, “Creativity by its nature can be very provocative and very polarizing.")

Full disclosure: I don’t have much ad experience, but it strikes me that any campaign that polarizes, except perhaps when it comes to politics, is misguided, to say the least.

Polarizing campaigns -- to do or not to do?

As a public relations firm that works hard to build its clients’ reputation and develop their credibility through third-party validation, we know it’s authenticity and transparency as part of their overall story – not wordplay and slick design – that really matter. When WordWrite kicks off an engagement with a client or a client asks us to do something specific for them, we immediately ask some very important questions.

  • What is your purpose in providing your products or services to customers?
    • What is the market need/opportunity for your products or services?
    • What is your product or service positioning compared to competitors?
    • What communication channels and methods best reach your audience(s)?
    • What is the best message and call to action to reach your audience(s)?

Seemingly standard stuff, but maybe not. For WordWrite Communications, there’s nothing that gives us any greater satisfaction than sitting at the same table as the chief executive or other high-ranking company official providing strategic communications advice based on our experience and expertise. The icing on the cake is when he or she acts on that counsel.

Awards for creativity are nice. They look good in a showcase, but in the end, if they don’t deliver results, they’re not worth the effort it takes to complete the award application. In my mind, the greatest award an agency can get is when a client can point to its good work and say that work has positively affected its business.

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