Was Oscar Wilde right when he said, there’s no such thing as bad publicity?
In this vlog, Grant explains why this quote is so misunderstood.
When Oscar Wilde said, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. He was almost right. You see, everybody talks about damaging reputation, but it’s so misunderstood. Let me give you an example.
When Volkswagen were caught fiddling their diesel emissions, so many people were quick to say; this is going to damage the brand, they are going to lose loads of money. ..That’s not the case at all. In actual fact, over the next 18 months, their sales went up.
So let me explain why… Because Volkswagen’s value proposition to the marketplace is that they make good quality, economic cars. They never claim to be a moral company. So when they fiddled diesel emissions, although everybody understands that it was a bad thing to do and they shouldn’t have done it, the fact is, it didn’t take away from their core value proposition, but it gave them loads and loads of extra publicity.
They were on every TV show, in every newspaper. So when car buyers were thinking of a car, Volkswagen were front of mind because the brand was everywhere. And although what they did wasn’t right, the car itself is still a good quality brand.
Therefore, the extra publicity – without taking away from their value proposition – actually meant an increase in sales. Because, as Bob Dylan said in New Danville Girl ‘People don’t do what they believe in. They do what’s convenient and then they repent.’
So do I think what Volkswagen did was good? No,
But did I make great cars? Yes they did.
So I shouldn’t buy one, but I’m going to anyway.
Similarly, a few years ago, Starbucks received some adverse publicity around tax avoidance. It’s not illegal, but it left a bad taste in people’s mouths when they are such a wealthy company. However, did it take away from the fact that they make great coffee and they’re a good place to meet? No, it didn’t. And the story gave them extra publicity. So what happened? Sales went up.
Another example is Amazon. I don’t know many people that think they’re a nice company, but they’re really convenient and really easy to use and their value proposition, they fulfill all the time and, therefore, people apologise but use them anyway.
So of course, everybody in business is trying to do their best and no one’s suggesting that you deliberately try and get it wrong, but get things in perspective. As long as you fulfil your value proposition to the customer and you don’t take away from that, even when things go awry, you’ll probably be okay.
There may be small changes to the spoken word in this transcript in order to facilitate the readability of the written English