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Newsletter #954: The “Bad Jokes” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Under pressure to seem young and hip, create the next YouTube hit, or just keep up with the Seymour Butts of the world, lots of brands are throwing aside the reputations they’ve built to make the next best playground joke. (And unfortunately, their customers aren’t laughing.)

Whether it’s because of an agency rep’s promise it will go viral or just a lapse in good judgment, it’s branding gone bad.

Here’s why:

1. Your grandma doesn’t like dirty words
2. Your boss isn’t into erectile dysfunction
3. Your social media fans expect respect
4. Check it out: Ridiculous Indie Rock Band Photos

1. Your grandma doesn’t like dirty words

K-Mart’s “Ship My Pants” and “Big Gas Savings” commercials had a lot of people scratching their heads. Why would a brand that sells to families and senior citizens think puns on obscenities would work? Even worse, it inspired a parody commercial that put a racist spin on “Ship My Knickers” — and lots of people believed it was from K-Mart. Why? Because it’s not too hard to believe a family brand that slips the words “shit” and “ass” in their commercials has poor judgment to begin with.

The lesson: Making poop jokes isn’t worth the work you’ll have to do to recover your brand’s reputation.

2. Your boss isn’t into erectile dysfunction

Want to get people’s attention? Make a dick joke. That’s what Kerio did for their project and meeting collaboration software, Samepage. They call it a remedy for Premature Collaboration, something “75% of companies suffer,” and to bring it home, they include pictures of anxious looking dudes and a shocked woman. While it might be a smooth-looking app with a bright concept, who would bring an ejaculation joke to their boss?

The lesson: There are better ways to make your brand stand out without alienating your customer.

3. Your social media fans expect respect

It seems like no one at Evansville Regional Airport told their social media team that moms make the majority of travel planning decisions for families, or that professional women sometimes fly on airplanes, or that it’s not 1955. Otherwise, they probably would not have posted this zinger on their Facebook page: “We just saw a tweet from Google facts that an airline in India only hires women because they are lighter, so they save $500,000 in fuel!!! Insert your women drive jokes below – haha!” What resulted was a firestorm of backlash from offended customers before the company could take down the sexist post.

The lesson: Just because you can be informal with social media doesn’t mean you should be offensive.

Learn more: Convince & Convert

4. Check it out: Ridiculous Indie Rock Band Photos

UsedWigs gives more authentic captions to the bored, lost in the forest, ironic, or just plain weird indie band photos we all love to hate.

Check it out: UsedWigs

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