When Does Brand Reputation Get Tarnished?

I’m not embarrassed to say that my wife and I seek out our children to help with installing new electronic devices. On the flip side, they both find it quite odd to hear me say “I didn’t have a PC/cell phone/digital camera when I was your age”. Our society has become so technology focused it’s a wonder we can even walk to the corner market and buy something without using technology – oh wait, they’ll scan my preferred club card and I will pay with my debit card – guess that example doesn’t work.

There are many great technologies available today that help our world. Whether it’s a new medical device to help regulate diabetes, e-mail so that I can stay in touch with my son’s teacher, or a photo-sharing Web site that allows me to post old photos with high school friends, technology seemingly has invaded all aspects of our life. But now it’s even crept into the holidays.

I’m a big fan of social media. I’ve reconnected with many old friends and colleagues via Facebook and Twitter. But now I think we may have gone too far by shattering the innocence of little kids around Christmas time. For years people have been able to track Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve thanks to our friends at NORAD. Well, now you can also link in and stalk Santa via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Earth and Flickr. But this one takes the cake.

A partnership with navigation company OnStar and NORAD allows subscribers to get live Santa updates on their in-car GPS system. So I can grab my kids, put them in the car, and drive around as we track Santa’s whereabouts. I wonder if Mrs. Claus tracks him throughout the rest of the year, not that Santa Claus has ever been accused of being unfaithful but it makes you wonder that he can slip into so many houses unnoticed.

So what’s the point of this little missive? When does a company’s brand get tarnished by going overboard? More social/political, when do you reconsider your feelings for a company when something goes wrong? Do you think any less of OnStar for this blatant abuse of holiday traditions? Will you stay away from Nike or Gillette due to Tiger Woods’ recent bumper car fiasco? On a much grander scale, would you shy away from purchasing a product or doing business with a company in a foreign country that you do not support? Building brand reputation takes a lot of time and effort but can all of that goodwill be thrown out the door with one simple misstep?

Rob Goodman

Author: Rob Goodman

Rob Goodman is a communications professional with more than 27 years of experience in public relations, marketing and content creation.