Your Campaign Needs a Kill Switch

Just a quick note before getting to part 2 of “Data’s Inigo Montoya Problem.”

Your digital campaigns need an “off” switch.  Seriously.

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Don’t have one?  Get one.

As many people did, I visited Twitter Friday night to get a sense of the tragedy in Paris as it unfolded.  Along with breaking news and some poorly-conceived instant opinions, I saw some perfectly normal tweets about marketing ideas from marketing experts I follow.  Or, rather, I saw what would have been perfectly normal tweets about marketing ideas had every person in the Western world not had Paris on his or her mind.

I won’t name names, but several marketers persisted in posting articles even as other posts listed numbers of dead and wounded.  Marketing emails continued to pour in as well, often with mundane Holiday sales.  I can only assume that the marketers in question had scheduled these posts and emails hours if not days ago.

As a marketer, you probably don’t need a complex strategy to address major tragedies (I’d make exceptions for brands that have a role to play in the aftermath of tragedies, such as telecommunications brands).  You do need an “off” switch to stop your campaigns immediately.  In addition, you need someone senior enough and sober enough to make the decision to use that off switch.  If you can’t accept the basic human decency argument, then at least pay attention to your response; I can’t believe people want to read your tweets and emails when tragedy strikes.  Your exposures have probably gone to waste in times like these.

Anyone wishing to use the argument of “if we stop marketing, then the terrorists have already won” may meet me on the field of honor at dawn.

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