If the latest twist in social media isn’t bringing in higher sales, should a marketing campaign employ a different kind of competitive edge? This seems to be the strategy selected by Weatherproof Garment Company when they plastered a photo of President Obama wearing one of their products on a New York City billboard. Laura Burkitt, in a Forbes column, reports that this is not the only case of marketers looking to ‘audacious stunts’ to improve the bottom line.
Other examples include Kellogg’s claim that one of its cereals can boost children’s immunity amidst fears during the H1N1 outbreak. Taco Bell is pitching its Fresco menu as the right way to lose weight. And there are the perennial claims by get-rich-quick artists on TV. One could argue that consumers ought to know better.
But just in case they don’t, the Federal Trade Commission stays busy monitoring marketing claims and investigating complaints which often times are not filed by consumers, but by competitor companies. In 2009, over 85 companies started legal proceedings against competitors because of marketing claims.
According to Paul Kurnit, marketing consultant and author of the Little Blue Book of Marketing "[i]t's all about brand visibility and getting an ad out there." He, along with other experts, believes that marketers will continue to take drastic steps to get noticed, even if their campaigns result in lawsuits.[Source: Burkitt, Laura. Questionable Spin: Marketers Push the Envelope in Tough Times, Forbes, 1.11.10]