Controversial Marketing Can Pay Off
By Kaitlyn Ambrose, Content Producer
Whether you watch the Super Bowl because you’re a fan or simply because it’s entertaining, there’s no denying the million-dollar ads that accompany the bavarian pretzels, beer cheese, and Coors Lights make the game more interesting. Each year, we advertising geeks gear up for a night of speculation as big brands roll out the red carpet and battle it out in between quarters.
Let’s talk about 84 Lumber because, let’s be honest, everybody is talking about 84 Lumber today.
The lumber company’s two-part controversial commercial, Journey 84, tells the heart-wrenching story of a mother and daughter’s seemingly illegal voyage from Mexico to the United States. Interestingly, the commercial was originally turned down by Fox Sports for being politically isolating, so 84 Lumber had to revise for TV by dividing the story into two parts. (The conclusion only could be seen online.) Within the first few minutes of the commercial, the website received 300K web requests to see the conclusion, and more than 6 million in the first hour.
The timing of this message is no coincidence—President Trump’s immigration ban and looming border wall. We plan to leave the political think pieces to Reason and Huffington Post, but COHN is uniquely qualified to comment on the social media side of the story.
When you make a splash like 84 Lumber did, your social media team better be ready, and 84 Lumber’s team was masterful last night. The squad of 15 social media analysts from Brunner left next to no notification unturned as the comments, shares, and reactions flooded in.
George Potts, VP, managing director of social media at Brunner told Campaign Live in an email, “We developed a sophisticated response rubric and over 20 pages of responses anticipating everything from claims we’re supporting illegal immigration to direct comments from the Presidential administration.”
For example: “We do not condone illegal immigration. The journey of the mother and daughter symbolizes grit, dedication, and sacrifice. Characteristics that we look for in our people at 84 Lumber. President Trump has previously said there should be a ‘big beautiful door in the wall so that people can come into this country legally.’ We couldn’t agree more.”
Now that’s what I call proper planning and smart messaging. Airing a message as timely and controversial as this one does not come without a wide variety of responses. Being able to crank out individualized and prompt responses to each comment is a feat in of itself. This social media team was armed with facts on everything from immigration law to what 84 Lumber looks for in their employees. They did their due diligence and it’s payed off. You can’t force a change of opinion, but you can at least back yours up with legitimate facts.
Social media managers everywhere could benefit from taking a page from Brunner’s notebook. When it comes to social media, you can’t be too prepared for anything.