Tom Hings, director brand marketing, Royal Mail
All the talk nowadays is of openness. Whether it is a blog, a Twitter feed or a Facebook page, brands are encouraged to adopt self-flagellation as a default.
Maintaining honest dialogue with customers through interactive media is, of course, vital, but making broadcast ads about it is a little odd.
On the plus side, I guess it could look like a mature and responsible stance to take, or potentially be an amusing position for a niche brand to adopt (one is reminded of the '"I never read The Economist." Management trainee, 42.' poster as perhaps the most success-ful example of this contrary strategy).
However, for mass-market brands, the strategy is problematic. What am I meant to think of suggestions that you have let some customers down?
Moreover, in a world of scarce res-ources, why would I not spend every penny of my shareholders' money on promoting the reasons why people should and do love the brand, or at the very least the improvements that I may be making to work even harder to earn people's custom?
Ivan Croxford, general manager, digital marketing services, BT Business
Companies are constantly reviewing their marketing campaigns and experimenting with new tactics for maximum impact or to engage more openly with consumers.
The publication of customer com-ments, both positive and negative, is already happening across the digital- media landscape. No bus-iness can escape the instant dissemin-ation of customer feedback across the internet.
This sort of peer-to-peer communi-cation can make or break a brand, product or service, so a social media strategy is now an essential part of the marketing mix.
Soliciting and publishing feedback, even if it is negative, is a vital way of improving customer perceptions and company performance. There is now a fine line between conventional mark-eting and individual conversations with consumers.
Transparency in this new world of digital engagement is both a virtue and a necessity, as customer service and marketing become more symbiotic.
Richard Exon, Chief executive, RKCR/Y&R
As we learned from M&S' 'We've boob-ed' adventure, in which Sir Stuart Rose publicly apologised for a bra pricing anomaly and ran advertising to amplify the message, a dose of honest realism can be compelling communication.
Furthermore, with the internet enab-ling consumers to take more control of the brands in their lives, cock-ups and complaints have never been more public. The key is the speed and nature of response.
Yet there's a big difference between smart, sassy responses to potentially damaging events, and incorporating negative feedback into advertising copy.
If any brand can do it, First Direct has a good chance of pulling it off with customary charm and elegance, but there will always be a residual suspicion that the featured negative commentary has been filtered, selected and approved by the marketing team.
This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.uk