#ThisWeekInMarketing, our columnist, Mrs. Smith, weighs in on some local and international brands’ online tributes following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, noting that brands need to ‘read the room’ and remain tasteful while creating top-of-mind awareness using a topical issue. Tattoo Palace, an ink studio based in Ezulwini posted a humourous image of the studio and a superimposed picture of the Queen walking past the studio, implying that she was a former customer of the studio. The brand managed to tastefully create top-of-mind awareness for the business, using a topical issue.
By Mrs. Smith
The 8th of August 2022 marked the 25th death anniversary of Princess Diana, and just days later on 8 September, the world received news that Britain’s Monarch Queen Elizabeth II had passed on at the age of 96.
Over the last few days, well-known figures and a number of brands worldwide have shared their condolences and tributes via Tweets and social media posts. Some of these have been viewed as being heartfelt, some humourous, while some have been deemed to be either unnecessary or worse, in very bad taste.
Locally, we experienced a few laughs with some personal brands in the arts posting images of the Queen with captions of fond memories they shared with her such as the time she visited them and brought them avocados.
From a commercial business perspective, Tattoo Palace, an ink studio based in Ezulwini posted a humourous image of the studio and a superimposed picture of the Queen walking past the studio, implying that she was a former customer of the studio. The brand managed to tastefully create top-of-mind awareness for the business, using a topical issue.
For commercial brands, there is a fine balancing act between crass and class. Staying mum on the issue may be perceived to be disrespectful, but because customers have become more discerning media consumers, even messages which have been crafted with good intentions can come across as self-promotion exercises.
Lots of brands have also been paying tribute and doing their bit to pay their respects to the monarch. Many alterations have already been implemented and many more are yet to come, with big events being cancelled across the UK this past weekend, from Premier League matches to the National Television Awards.
Some brands, however, have caused mayhem online as people have been finding their tribute posts to be humorous and ridiculous at the same time.
Some tweets joked about the Met Office’s (the UK’s national weather service) tweet, where the office suggested it would just do “one forecast a day” out of respect for the late Queen.
Its initial tweet read: “We are saddened by the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Our thoughts are with her family and all those affected by this news. As a mark of respect during this time of national mourning, we will only be posting daily forecasts and warnings.”
The Met Office later clarified that it meant it would stop posting any “non-operational” content on Twitter for the time being.
Popular toy retailer, Legoland Windsor, announced it would close its shops and offices last Friday, with a tweet of a picture of a Lego model that resembled the Queen, while rival German toy maker, Playmobil shared a black and white Instagram image of one its toy figures wearing a hat and clutching a handbag with the words “Rest in Peace Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022”.
One Twitter user didn’t think the Playmobil toy was a totally appropriate tribute, commenting underneath the post: “Unreal. Zero respect.”
PlayMobil’s figurine tribute.
Similarly, British lingerie company Ann Summer’s tribute also garnered plenty of attention, with one user mockingly suggesting “it’s what she would’ve wanted”.
Ann Summers wrote: “Thank you, Ma’am, for everything – for women, for family, for our nation. Sleep well,” alongside a stunning black and white photo of the late Queen alongside links and images to sex toys, lingerie, and other products on offer below.
Mark Borkowski, a renowned PR consultant, and author described the Playmobil post as “a dumb-arse thing to do”. Brands should be waiting to see what the public reaction is to the Queen’s death before reacting, Borkowski said. “This is going to challenge people and show where the real geniuses exist,” he said. A few firms, “disruptive startups”, may find they can feed the outrage machine, Borkowski added. “But if you’re a brand with a wider audience, you have to be a lot more respectful.”