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The brands whose PR disasters raised their profiles

19th September 2018


Even the most famous and iconic companies can make mistakes and get it disastrously wrong. And to make it worse, the whole globe is watching and the media is hot on your tail to report any slip-ups.

More search interest
But the good news is that your brand is in the news, and increasing its profile is generally a good thing in the long term. By analysing the biggest PR fails and brand disasters over the last decade and looking at search interest peak at these times using Google Trends, it is possible to highlight which companies saw search interest increase the most during hard times.

Whilst public opinion of these brands took a hit and commentary surrounding these big brands actions was less than complimentary, despite their mistakes the majority of brands actually saw search interest rise when compared to the period before the their PR disasters.

United Airlines
The brand who saw search interest rise the most in the last decade is United Airlines with its now infamous incident in April 2017 where it dragged a passenger from an aircraft after he refused to get off an overbooked plane. After the passenger was filmed being violently removed from the plane and posted on the internet, United Airlines issued not one, but three apologies in an attempt to put out the storm which surrounded its actions. Despite the brand name being put into a bad light, the brand saw search interest rise by an astounding 1150% during the furore.

Pepsi
Pepsi scored the second biggest rise in search interest after it released an advert with model Kendall Jenner which showed her taking part in a protest before handing a police officer a can of Pepsi. Many felt the ad trivialised social justice movements and the ad was pulled by Pepsi days later. Despite the ad being pulled, with many people searching for the brand in order to view the ad, search interest grew by 675%.

In fact, out of all of the 30 PR fails featured in the last decade, just two saw no change in their search interest – Qanta and Netflix both in 2011.

Talking points

Whilst brands often came out and apologised, it often took numerous statements before talk of the brand disaster died down – proving that even during these disastrous moments, some brands reach peak interest.

Many of these brands will wish that their cringeworthy moment never happened. However, with some of the most disastrous moments, the increasing attention the brand gets raises its profile so high that the immediate pain is not as bad as the long-term gain.

Written by Ade Lewis, digital marketing and SEO consultant Ade Lewis Ltd



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