When it comes to brand controversies, Cartwright cautions brands
to not read too much into social media reaction. "Twitter outrage
does not translate to a real change in consumer perceptions." he
states in the report. "It is brand management malpractice to not
invest in more robust analytics."
He points to the social media outrage that Fiat-Chrysler-owned
Ram drew with its 2018 Super Bowl ad that used audio of a Martin
Luther King Jr. speech along with shots of the Ram 1500 truck. The
drew an immediate rebuke on Twitter from people accusing Ram of
appropriating the civil rights legend to sell pickup trucks. "If
you read the news or looked at social media, it would be reasonable
to assume Ram's brand was in free fall," Cartwright states in the
report. But Morning Consult, which tested the ad with consumers,
found that "a sturdy plurality of consumers liked it" and
"African-Americans liked it best," according to Cartwright.
As part of the new report, Morning Consult took a look at some
other recent brand controversies. Below, a snapshot:
The problem: The ride-hailing brand's
troubles started with the "#DeleteUber" movement that began in
January 2017 when Uber was accused of trying
to capitalize on a New York City taxi cab driver boycott. Uber
continued operating while taxi drivers refused to pick up
passengers at John F. Kennedy International Airport as a way of
protesting President Trump's refugee ban. Things got worse for Uber
in June of 2017 when co-founder Travis Kalanick departed amid
negative publicity stemming from allegations of sexual harassment
and gender discrimination at the company.
Fallout: Uber's net favorability
rating dropped from +27 at the beginning of 2017 to +20 by the
final quarter of the year, according to Morning Consult. But the
company appears to have mostly recovered. Its rating stood at +26
in October of this year. Still, there are lingering effects: Since
January of 2017, competitor Lyft has "frequently outpaced Uber in
terms of net favorability," according to Morning Consult.
The problem: President Trump in
September 2017 called on National Football League owners to
fire players who kneel during the National Anthem to protest
social inequities. His statement gave more attention to a
polarizing issue that splits NFL fans in half.
Fallout: The league's net favorability
rating fell by 30 points in one month in late 2017, led by
dissatisfaction from Trump voters. The issue barely registered with
Clinton voters. But the anthem debate still resonates today: The
league's net favorability stood at +20 in August 2018, down from
+41 a year earlier, before the anthem issue gained steam. Of
course, the NFL's TV ratings this season have not suffered. At the
season's halfway point, the leagues TV numbers were
Ad Age recently reported.
The problem: The Mexican food chain
drew negative headlines in July 2017 after 135 people got sick from
norovirus after eating at a Chipotle in Virginia.
Fallout: Chipotle's favorability
rating fell from +32 before the norovirus outbreak to +24 the month
after the news hit. The rating remained stuck at +25 in the three
months ending in October 2018, but Morning Consult points out that
the "it is not clear" if the rating is "directly attributable to
the norovirus story.