I am constantly fascinated to see how brands react to adversity and critics. This week brought two really interesting a good examples from two major brands.
Zappos.com vs Kanye West
Kanye West slammed Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh during a podcast with Bret Easton Ellis this week by saying “I got into this giant argument with the head of Zappos that he’s trying to tell me what I need to focus on. Meanwhile, he sells all this sh*t product to everybody, his whole thing is based off of selling sh*t product,” West said in the interview.
We will put aside the obvious massive hole in this argument that Zappo’s doesn’t actually make any of the products they sell and move on to Tony Hsieh and Zappos’ responds. They quickly by tweeting “Yes, it’s true that we sell (expletive) product,” with a link to a page on their site that was a toilet, with plunger and toilet paper, for $100,000. The product description reads “This is the throne, everyone has been watching. Whether you’re #1 or #2, your clique will show no mercy, even in Paris. The perfect gift for the man who has everything,” The description obviously references West’s lyrics and fashion industry feuds.
I really love and respect the way Zappos handled the situation since most brands have stayed silent after being targeted by one of West’s tirades.
Google vs Microsoft
It feels like I just finished writing about how I dont’t understand why Microsoft can’t slam another brand with any style when here comes another example of their ineptitude. This week Microsoft launched and began selling merchandise for its “Scroogled” marketing campaign that aims to switch users from services like Gmail and Chrome to Outlook.com and Internet Explorer. Not one to let things go, Google responded to the new merchandise Thursday by saying “Microsoft’s latest venture comes as no surprise; competition in the wearables space really is heating up.”
Microsoft seems to want to continue to invest in the strategy that you don’t spend your budget to promote or improve your products but instead just try to tear everyone else down to your level. As with all of their recent attempts to take on their competition like Apple and Google I just don’t see what they think they are going to get out of these tactics. They aren’t funny, or brand enhancing, or anything more than a continued parade of bad ideas that make Micorsoft look desperate. If you competition, in this case Google, was able to point out all of that with a one line response then you need a MUCH better strategy.
I know these responses are more school yard tactics than most people would like but I think it is a much better way to defend your brand that something like Yves St Laurent’s recent overreaction with French retailer Colette. I think these reposes struck the perfect tone because they didn’t take the generic high road response or acting hurt and instead made a witty joke of the whole thing. It took all the power out of the attacks and made the responding brands look like the much smarter of the two combatants. It also again pointed out that if you pick a fight and do it in a cheap and styleless way then your brand comes off as cheap and styleless.