Delta and Coke Valentines Blunder a Good Lesson for Others

Customer reviews, client reviews, best PR firm, public relations, content marketingby Justin Grensing, Esq., MBA

The marketing world can be fickle. Marketers and advertisers are lauded as geniuses when their bold or creative plans pan out. But they’re derided as fools or worse when their plans fall flat. Often, it’s just the benefit of hindsight that makes a great idea turn out to be idiotic.

Well, in hindsight, a Valentines-themed gimmick looks like a pretty bad idea. As Holly Yan reports for CNN, “Maybe Delta should stick to flying planes instead of playing matchmaker.

Matchmaking in the Skies

After handing out Coca-Cola napkins suggesting passengers give their name and number to their ‘plane crush,’ both companies are apologizing.”

The napkins, advertising Diet Coke, contained the following message on the front of the napkin: “because you’re on a plane full of interesting people and hey…you never know,” and on the back: “be a little old school, write down your number & give it to your plane crush. You never know…” The napkins included a place to put down both name and number.

Yan reports that while some passengers thought the gimmick was funny, others found it to be inappropriate and creepy. One passenger tweeted: “Pretty sure no one appreciated unsolicited phone numbers in the ‘good old days’ and they sure as heck don’t want the number of someone who has been gawking at them on a plane for hours today.”

Considering Consumer Sensitivities

We could probably debate at length whether the napkin idea is completely out of bounds in this era of #MeToo sensitivities, or that society needs to lighten up a bit. But, even if this debate were a 50/50 split, it’s never wise to alienate half of your market. Additionally, we have to remember these napkins weren’t handed out at some singles bar where patrons would likely be more amenable to the message. They were handed out on a plane populated with children, married people, and those just wanting to get to their destinations with as little hassle as possible.

Chances are that people aren’t going to stop flying Delta or drinking Coke because of this recent brouhaha. And, you’ve likely heard the old saying that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Still, we live in a hyper-sensitive and increasingly polarized environment. You will, of course, never “please all of the people all of the time.” But you should be strategic in your marketing communication practices to boost the odds that you will at least please most of them!

About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We are adept at evaluating and analyzing communication efforts. We work with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content, through both on- and offline media to achieve desired results. Our background in business journalism, marketing, PR/media relations and online communications makes us well-positioned to serve the needs of 21st-century marketers.

We serve clients who are looking for help creating content for a wide array of channels—from social media posts to full-length manuscripts, and everything in between. We focus primarily on service-related B2B topics and work with a number of independent consultants interested in building their thought leadership through online channels. For ongoing content management, our first step is to fully understand your goals, objectives and competitive landscape.

Then we’ll conduct a thorough analysis and assessment of your digital presence, compared to competitors. Finally, we’ll recommend a communication strategy to help you achieve your goals. We also regularly take on individual projects – white papers, blog posts, contributed articles, etc. If you’re interested in learning more, let us know!

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

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