Turn a complaint into a marketing win like Pimm’s Chief Foliage Officer

Posted By Alice McGregor on 7th July 2016

Last summer Judy Murray – mother of tennis ace Andy Murray – had a twitter whinge about the amount of mint in her glass of Pimm’s. “I love to Pimm. But seriously, what’s with the foliage overdose? #pointless”, she moaned.

Instead of ignoring the Tweet, Pimm’s used it as an opportunity for some free publicity and got people talking about the brand in a marketing masterstroke.


[Image credit: Twitter/@PimmsGB]

It used this chance to explain exactly how much mint should be used in the ‘perfect serve’ (three British-grown mint leaves per glass) and warned bartenders to “proceed with caution when using the herb”.

This year Judy has reemerged in a promotional video as the brand’s Chief Foliage Officer and Twitter has gone wild for it. It is a fun and silly way of turning a negative into a positive and giving your brand a bit more personality – even if twitter ends up bitching about Judy Murray’s eyebrows.

Humanizing brands online

Looking at it simply, marketing is about finding ways to connect businesses with people. This human element is the reason many of us choose to work in the industry. Seeking to understand who the target audience is and creating content and campaigns that communicate effectively and meaningfully with them is both interesting and rewarding if you’re a people person.

We often talk about a company’s values and mission as well as the personas that represent its target audience. However, we should take this a step further and humanise the brands themselves as ultimately at the heart of every business is a bunch of people who have senses of humour and get things wrong sometimes.

When we go to work we, of course, try to remain as professional as possible, but we’re still only human! However, this sometimes gets forgotten about, especially in the B2B space, where we often get a bit lost in unnecessarily formal jargon-heavy modes of communication.

The truth is, unless you are in search of something very product-specific, that kind of communication is inaccessible and runs the risk of becoming a lifeless blurb.

It can work in our favour when we are more honest in our approach, and that includes acknowledging when we mess up a bit. As we all know, no matter how hard we try in life sometimes, we make mistakes. Every one of us has accidentally upset or annoyed someone, whether it’s friends, family or work colleagues. It is also important to recognise that not everyone is going to like us and sometimes people have bad things to say. Doing the ostrich thing and putting our heads in the sand tends to be counter-productive.

Discover negative brand perceptions – and then change them

In digital marketing, we have tools that enable us to listen to what people are saying about our brand online – both good and bad. When we see a bad review or negative feedback we should think about how this can be turned into an opportunity for good.

When bad things happen it is tempting to try and erase them as soon as possible, but it is best to face them head on. People often vent at businesses due to a lack of visibility; a failure to see the people behind the corporate facade. Show them you’re human too.

For example, maybe you put all your energy and passion into running your restaurant, only to see a few bad reviews damage your rating on Trip Adviser. It is a good idea to reflect on what their issues were and think about how they can be addressed.

Respond to the person quickly and publicly to apologise for their experience (just be nice about it) and then engage with them privately saying that you will address the issue and then invite them back another time so you can prove this to be the case.

On the other hand, maybe it isn’t something as serious as direct negative feedback; perhaps someone is just having a general moan about something to do with your business. If you are keeping your ear to the ground you can listen out for the little gems, turn negatives into positives, and maybe even employ your own Chief Foliage Officer!