PR pop quiz: The FDA has just pulled your edgy (read: irresponsible) product from shelves for being a little too edgy (read: dangerous). What do you do?
Do you apologize and pledge to improve your product's flaws? Perhaps you change your marketing to reflect reality in a way satisfactory to the FDA? Or maybe you ridicule the FDA, saying, "Of course, we intended for Cocaine energy drink to be a legal alternative [to cocaine], the same way that celibacy is an alternative to premarital sex."
Extrapolating from what you can surmise about the personality of a company that settles on "Cocaine" as a clever name for its nasty energy drink, you can guess which course of action was pursued.
The FDA's objection was not only to the name, but its marketing strategy, with slogans like "Liquid Cocaine" and "Speed in a Can."
But Clegg Ivey, a partner in the company that sells the drink (which is changing to an undetermined name as of press time), brushed off the concerns by asserting, "Our market, primarily folks from ages 20 to 30, they love the ideas, the name, the whole campaign. These are not drug users."
Ha ha! Drug users between the ages of 20 and 30? Preposterous! The FDA should have specified that the campaign targeted broke drug users because everyone with the cash to buy real cocaine would never waste their time choking down syrupy goop for a cheap caffeine buzz.
When your product is exposed as wrong-headed, drug-promoting, and illegal, it's best to go quietly. Don't act like some crackhead.
PR Play Rating:
3. On the right track