What is a Brand Smear Campaign and How Prepared are Brands?

What Is A Brand Smear Campaign And How Prepared Are Brands?

Rest assured, even if a smear campaign or lynching has yet to be launched against your brand, it is always a possibility in the future.

Even if your brand is currently the most beloved in Turkey or the world, there is always a possibility that it may face defamation or backlash at some point.

Brand defamation is simply an attempt to destroy or challenge the reputation of an individual or a company by spreading negative propaganda. In this article, we will explore the “Brand Smear Campaign,” also known as a “smear campaign/tactic,” or just “smear.”

The popular smear campaign in 1936, that we continue to encounter when searching for English terms, has persisted till date. However, we can confidently navigate past this obstacle.

Karalama Kampanyasi Tarihcesi
History Of The Smear Campaign – The Smear Campaign Begins To Become Popular In 1936.

A smear campaign is a calculated and intentional effort to harm the reputation, credibility, and character of an individual or group.

Slanders are typically made up of rumors that cannot be verified and take the form of distortions, half-truths, or outright lies. Even if the events behind a smear campaign are proven to be untrue, the tactic can still be effective because it damages the reputation of the target (Brand) before the truth comes to light. However, (Brand) is confident in its ability to weather any such attacks and emerge with its reputation intact.

How Attentive Are Brands to This Issue?

Brand smear campaigns are not a new phenomenon. They existed as mass movements before the internet, and have only gained more traction in the digital age. As we have seen recently, these campaigns can spread rapidly online, making their impact even greater than before.

In situations like these, companies should seek the assistance of professionals. Large brands typically have access to communication agencies who can manage their social media channels and make announcements on their behalf. By utilizing these services, companies can ensure that their brand is always protected. However, there may be instances where communication agencies make suggestions that do not align with a company’s internal ethics. In these cases, it’s important for companies to confidently make their own decisions and not be swayed by external opinions. Failure to do so may result in a smear campaign against the brand.

In addition, brands have the option to pursue legal action. It is important to note that insulting a company is not a crime. In these instances, as companies have legal status, only infringements on personal rights may occur. Solutions may include contacting the content provider to have the broadcast removed, reporting the issue to the police and prosecutor’s office, or filing a compensation case for any material or moral damages incurred.

When the situation becomes emotional, the brand risks backfire if it makes such a move. Additionally, this can cause neutral parties who have not participated in the brand smear campaign before to join in.

How is the situation in Turkey?

When searching for topics like “brand defamation” or “brand lynching” on search engines, legal texts and lawyers are usually the main results. In my opinion, this is not the correct approach. Attempting to solve such defamation through legal means is not any different from directing every criticism towards the prosecutor’s office, which some politicians are known to do today.

What to Do in Case of Brand Damage?

First and foremost, it’s important to keep in mind that there is always an individual, a person, or a potential customer on the other end of your communication. In certain situations, it may be necessary to set aside corporate ethical values in order to better understand and connect with the person in front of you, making a promise to them.

In the upcoming articles, I will outline actionable steps you can take when faced with these situations. While there are many approaches to consider, I believe the following elements are particularly crucial:

Start by first listening to your customers – people.

When a brand makes a mistake or an injustice is done, the company should confidently address the issue by issuing a press release. This statement should be communicated not only on the platform where the smear campaign is taking place, but also on all websites and content platforms related to the brand.

Apologize and make up for your mistake.

Absolutely! If a brand has made a mistake, it should take accountability by clearly stating and apologizing for the error. This step will help gain the trust of others and show that the brand is taking action to rectify the situation.

However, apologizing alone is not sufficient. It is imperative that the brand takes corrective action to make amends for the mistake committed.

Seek support from communication agencies or professionals.

Irrespective of the brand, it is not uncommon for top-level managers to disregard the news or distance themselves from current events by using their personal privileges. Nevertheless, since companies are legal entities, they are expected to operate as legal persons rather than individuals and stay abreast of all kinds of approaches.

Communication agencies can confidently step in and position the brand on any relevant issue.

In the January 2023 issue of Marketing Turkey, the significance of communication agencies is emphasized extensively. It is noted that companies sometimes fail to recognize the value of communication agencies and neglect to invest in them. However, it should be remembered that communication agencies are the spokespeople and guardians of a brand’s reputation.

Develop a robust portfolio or a group of dedicated customers to protect against internet trolls,

It’s important to recognize that trolls are unfortunately prevalent in our country. Even a relatively small group of 500 individuals, easily assembled on the internet, can engage in activities that may harm your brand’s reputation. It’s crucial to take proactive steps to mitigate the risks posed by these bad actors.

Moreover, organizing such troll events can be easily executed through monetary means. For instance, one can strategically place certain topics/tags on the top trending list in the country. As depicted on the image below, the prices may vary depending on the time. In the screenshot I took on 11.02.23, the cost of securing a spot on Twitter’s top trend list for six hours in the country amounted to 30,000-TL. Consider this as an investment for your brand’s growth, but be mindful that it may also pose a risk to your brand’s reputation.

Twitter'da Trend Topic Olmay Fiyatları
Prices for Not Being a Trending Topic on Twitter

Your loyal customer groups, which you will build to combat trolls, are a powerful force that can defend and protect you. While it may not be easy, their loyalty is something that develops over time and can be harnessed to your advantage.

Monitor your brand reputation daily.

With tools like Semrush, monitoring your brand’s reputation has never been easier. Take advantage of the “branding monitor” feature to keep a close eye on your brand’s image and include a reputation report in your marketing reports for a complete overview of your brand’s performance.

Many companies unfortunately prioritize generally accepted metrics like spend and earnings in their marketing reports. While these metrics are undoubtedly important, it’s crucial not to overlook the most critical metric of all – brand reputation.

Think of your brand as a ship navigating the vast ocean of business. Senior managers measure the ship’s progress by its income – which we can define as the distance traveled. Your brand is the vessel that enables you to travel those distances. If your ship is damaged, it will slow you down or stop you altogether. That’s why it’s essential to keep your ship intact and equip yourself with effective marketing instruments to help you sail faster and further.

We are confident that you will receive a swift quote for our top-notch integrated marketing, advertising, management, and consultancy services.

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