Respond to complaints
"Back in the late '60s, I did a campaign for [women's] suntan-extending lotion with the tagline, 'They'll hate you back home a lot longer,' " recalls Larry Postaer of Rubin Postaer in Santa Monica. "I got tons of letters from women in Boston who felt it pit sister against sister. I sent each one an apology." Sending mollification in the form of coupons can be another smart move; few consumers can resist redeeming them, especially if they already like and use the product.
Fear not publicity
"The moment on the media hot seat is only a moment," observes New-York based advertising journalist Dottie Enrico. What may result is name recognition with little recall of the particulars. "For instance, Nike has taken the attitude, 'We don't care. We don't want everyone to get it.' "
Take chances, stand your ground
The popular Taco Bell Chihuahua was the brainchild of two creative directors at TBWA/Chiat/Day. Other than the one man who complained -- "and he wasn't even backed up by his national organization" -- other Latinos saw it as an "increased recognition of their culture."
But know the taboos
Some are obvious: race, religion, overt sex. But others -- making someone older or heavier look stupid and helpless; using someone's physical or mental handicap or weakness to prove a point; fostering a sense of inadequacy if the consumer doesn't buy your product -- require subtlety. "You can't jazz up an ad at someone's expense by taking a cheap shot," says Larry Postaer. "It's almost