Home > Uncategorized > When Does Negative Publicity Have A Positive Effect?

When Does Negative Publicity Have A Positive Effect?

The New York Times’ “Good News, Bad News” from October 29, 2010 reminded me of the recent blog post “The Power of the Twitterverse” about the negative publicity that the Gap generated when it released its new logo. New York Times Reporter Rob Walker asks, in response to the Gap logo fiasco, the age-old question “can negative publicity actually have a positive effect?” Here’s what he found out really matters:

How familiar was the brand before the negative publicity? Researchers found that negative reviews of a new book by an already well-known author actually harmed sales. For new authors, however, the opposite effect happened: sales increased when the author was relatively unknown. Simple public awareness.

How closely linked are the brand and the bad publicity? Researchers concluded that the more indirect the link is between the brand and the bad publicity, the more sales boost — from an increase in brand awareness. Michael Jackson record sales increased after he dangled his baby over a balcony. Similarly, when Michael Richards made a racist statement during his stand-up routine, “Seinfeld” DVD sales increased. Luckily for the Gap, it wasn’t its clothing that caused a stir — it was the logo.

Only sales will tell what the unveiling of a new logo with extremely negative feedback will mean for the Gap. But if research from New York Times reporter Rob Walker’s article helps us make a prediction, we may just see a rise in sales for the jean giant — over the simple unveiling of a new logo.

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