Advertisers are stuck between a rock and a hard place dealing with people who take offence at everything. I chuckled at a NZ Herald story this week. Farmers apologised for a Mother’s Day email promotion to customers.
Farmers had said: “Your mother sent us her wish list” Two hours later: “Farmers would like to apologise for sending an email this morning with a subject line which may have caused hurt or offence. It was certainly not our intention. We acknowledge we need to give more thought and empathy when we are communicating with our valued Farmers customer community,” the department store said in its apology.
The NZ Herald wrote: “Farmers head of marketing Dean Cook told the Herald the email subject line was an ill-conceived idea. One customer, Sally Lewis, told the Herald that she complained to Farmers over the email. “I said, ‘My mother died 16 years ago, and stop this please.'”
I say: You have to be careful communicating with customers. But social media has created a mood where people like to emote when something happens they don’t like. Does Farmers have to apologise and explain to media because a promotional campaign reminded someone of their mum who had died? Will someone be upset on Father’s Day because their Dad had gone out for some milk and some ciggies in 1986, and never come home? Both my parents passed away recently. I can’t expect there to be no more public mentions of parents or dying. Life goes on.