Although Mike and Ike’s split hit the news back in April, it wasn’t until this weekend that I really saw this nasty breakup play out in public. First, it was the billboards scattered along the sides of highways in Charlotte – a very public display of Ike erasing Mike from his life (and his billboard).
Then, of course, there were the commercials. The news obviously devastated fans, coworkers and celebrities, alike, as the cameras caught their reactions on film.
Why? Well, for the ratings, of course – there’s no news there. In public relations, we’re usually working proactively to avoid conflict. Yet, here the candy brand has not only welcomed it, but started it. An uncommon tactic, but not original. Barbie and Ken announced their divorce back in 2004, and the brand Benetton is better known for its extremely controversial ad campaigns than it is for its actual products.
So here’s the question I pose: When does introducing a little bit of drama or controversy become too distracting? For Mike and Ike and Barbie and Ken, I think it’s just the right amount. Create a little bit of a stir about a breakup to generate publicity, but still focus on the actual product. Benetton – aren’t you supposed to be a fashion brand? I hear more about your ad campaigns than I do about your clothing.
In my first 30 days at a Raleigh PR agency, I’ve learned that conflicts and crises are sometimes part of the job. But, when did we start creating controversy in an attempt to do our job better? And, when does the controversy become off-putting to consumers? Ignoring the poorly executed posts and bland YouTube commercials, do you think the idea of Mike and Ike’s breakup is just what the brand needed for some renewed publicity, or is it just plain distracting?