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When Brands Misbehave

Seems brands still struggle with marketing activity that crosses the line. Inevitable chest thumping and smirks result, social media pros quickly shout about how smart it all was, and I’m sure, a few awards will follow. But when do brands grasp that cheeky actions like North Face actually lower our (or at my) opinion of them. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you short. Basic integrity should kick in and questions like – “yes, but is this the right thing to do” should be asked. Abusing Wikipedia is the wrong move.

If you missed it. Leo Burnett Tailor Made replaced the images in Wikipedia articles about national parks with photos they took that have North Face products in them. When searching Google for these places, the first result is then often an image Wikipedia or a link to the Wikipedia article the ad agency defaced.

Perhaps North Face needs a stronger North Star?

Wikipedia had this to say:

“Wikipedia and the @Wikimedia Foundation did not collaborate on this stunt, as The North Face falsely claimed. In fact, what they did was akin to defacing public property.”

“This is a surprising direction from The North Face, as their stated mission is to “support the preservation of the outdoors” — a public good held in trust for all of us.

What has followed is the normal corporate speak:

“Leo Burnett Tailor Made found a unique way to contribute photography of adventure destinations to their respective Wikipedia articles while achieving the goal of elevating those images in search rankings.

“We’re always looking for creative ways to meet consumers where they are. We’ve since learned that this effort worked counter to Wikipedia’s community guidelines. Understanding the issue, we ended the campaign.

“Our team has further accepted an invitation by Wikipedia to learn more about the platform and their work to share unbiased, fact-based knowledge. We look forward to working with Wikipedia to engage with them, and with respect to their network of volunteer editors, better in the future.”

“Unique” is still wrong even when “unique” and like they didn’t know what they were doing. Hardly an apology

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