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What Products Do You Love To Hate?

Robert Chilver

You’ve no doubt heard the public relations phrase that there is no such thing as bad publicity. The theory is that attention (whether through good or bad press) can increase awareness and lead to eventual success.

We’ve all certainly seen examples of this phrase proving true but usually it centers on celebrities. Everyone has known about Charlie Sheen’s problems for quite some time yet he remained the highest paid actor on TV (until yesterday). Kim Kardashian became famous for an infamous video tape yet has become one of Hollywood’s favorite celebs.

Consumer brands are usually a different story, however. Bad publicity is hardly ever a positive. Public criticisms of a product can damage selling power significantly. Apple recently had to fight back against the media after several glitches were found on the iPhone 4. Toyota is still recalling cars for a gas pedal failure that is certainly making buyers think twice before purchasing.

But can there be examples when bad publicity turns into a good thing for a product? Well it appears someone is going to find out. For perhaps the first time ever, a brand is asking consumers to publicly criticize their product.

Perhaps it was the “Jersey Shore” headline that got me reading about this, but I was intrigued by a recent article about Miracle Whip’s new "We're Not For Everyone" campaign. On their Facebook page, the company is asking consumers to tell them either “Why do you have a sweet spot for us?” or (more interestingly) “Why do we leave a bad taste in your mouth?” Just a few days later, I saw commercials advertising the campaign. Half of consumers in the commercial proclaim their love for Miracle Whip while others, including Pauly D of the Jersey Shore, express their hatred.

This is certainly a refreshing way to go about consumer interaction. No doubt just about every product receives complaints from those who dislike it. So why not reach out and find out why your consumers aren’t enjoying their experience? Not only will it show them you care, but you’ll also receive valuable feedback for possible changes or new products altogether.

Companies using public relations firms can then speak directly to the criticisms by telling their side of the story or revealing upcoming improvements. For food brands like Miracle Whip, it’s just the nature of the business that people have different tastes. Accepting that and letting both the supporters and critics voice their opinion will only encourage others to give the product a try and see what side they are on.

Personally, I believe that more brands should accept the fact that their product just isn’t for everyone. Just as a people might be turned off by a person that takes themselves too seriously, consumers know better than to believe one product is best for everyone. So simply accept who you are, and although everyone might not offer positive reviews, you’ll receive useful feedback (and perhaps a boost in sales).

Also personally, I hate Miracle Whip but I don’t miss a new Jersey Shore episode.

What about you? What products would you like to see ask your true opinion of them?