Lessons on what to do if your brand is hijacked

By Amber Hudson and Luke Sklar

The Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer:  an obscure little kitchen utensil that arguably does not address a single unmet need.  Knives need not be worried.  But if you thought something like this would fly under the radar, purchased only as a gag gift for new home owners you’d be wrong.  The brand has been hijacked by Amazon.com customers and the results are hilarious.  The time and creative energy visitors have spent providing reviews and telling stories is impressive.  Click here to see the reviews.   Sure, it’s blatant product mockery.  But Hutzler is getting press and it kind of makes me want to buy one!

Cristal is another brand that was hijacked by consumers.  Lauded by the hip hop community for years until the makers of the expensive champagne said they didn’t like the brand being associated with the “bling lifestyle.” (Enter Jay-Z’s boycott of the brand).

Then there’s Beyoncé; people started posting rather unflattering pictures of her performing at the Super Bowl.  Her request to have these images taken down was met with disdain.   Now during her world tour she’s only allowing her own photographers.

Are these good examples of protecting your brand?  Or an over- reaction that generated even more negative attention?  There are many examples out there and much written about brand hijacking.  But at EIM we think the lesson on this is:  as part of your marketing plan spend 10 minutes to answer the question “what might we do if our brand is hijacked?”  And if your brand is hijacked, take a moment to breath; immediate reactions are often too emotional (case in point, The Gap over reacted when their new logo was slammed by a small few).  Then go with the flow and enter the conversation with confidence and conviction.