Wanting to create buzz at all costs: what are the risks?

The development of a company cannot be envisaged today without a communication strategy aimed at making its name, its products or its services known. The notoriety of the company is an important guarantee of success that must not be neglected. Creating buzz, i.e. generating word of mouth among consumers, is an obvious marketing objective. But should it be done at any cost?

Buzz, a sacred word and a dream for many entrepreneurs! With it your turnover explodes in a few minutes, you are obliged to recruit 30 employees, in short you have hit the Jackpot and you are already imagining the next one. But your communication campaign can also become a laughing stock in a few moments, and see your customers and fans turn away from your brand and no longer control the situation… sometimes for a poorly chosen image, a word… So that you become a buzz pro

Analysing buzz to better understand its mechanisms

A rigorous analysis already allows you to avoid repeating the mistakes that others have (kindly) made for you. Drawing inspiration from what has worked well always helps you to identify good practices that will enable you to create a buzz of your own. Find out if your product or service could be illustrated in a similar (not identical!) style while adding your own innovative touch. Because let’s face it: the products or services that have been in the news are not at all the same (naughty sign, real estate company, board games, the colour of a dress, lingerie brands, a mobile application to make people dance, crisps, burgers… or the eternal carambars). In other words, any product/service can do the trick! If their nature has been diversified, it must be said that the creatives are put to the test. The Michel & Augustin brand should be noted, as it once again succeeded in creating not one but… several buzzes.

The sources of buzz

The era of omni-connection and social networks has digitalised word of mouth. Today, information and good tips are exchanged on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. But creating a buzz is not something that can be decreed and its triggering is based on clearly identified levers: taboo, scandal, the unusual, hilarity, secrecy and admiration. It should be noted straight away that the first two of these levers are very delicate to handle, the next three are complicated to implement and the last one sets the bar very high! Creating the right buzz is therefore not easy and in marketing is akin to a somewhat inaccessible Holy Grail.

Buzz marketing and fatigue

By trying too hard to create a buzz by massively occupying space, both real and virtual, a brand can cause weariness and irritation. A badly mastered slogan can be hijacked and, by going viral, damage a brand’s image or delight its competitor. This is the case with Pepsi and the slogan “When there’s no Coke”, which has been squatting on the American Web for a long time, to the great displeasure of the New York firm. Viral marketing has uncertain boundaries and can generate a bad buzz against all odds and create the opposite effect to the one expected. Some labels wanted to try the devil, as was the case with Numéricable and its “Download as fast as your wife changes her mind”! Needless to say, the argument did not go down well with women! Benetton, by playing the provocation card (shockvertising) too much, ends up getting tired. The brand’s latest campaigns have shocked in Germany and France, where associations have called for a boycott. As a result, 150 of the 650 German franchisees have joined forces to campaign against the provocative ads, which are said to have cost them between 10 and 30% of their turnover. It is worth noting that Benetton, which has been involved in this search for buzz at all costs since 1993, has above all succeeded in making people forget what it offers! Many people only know the label through its sometimes bloody posters rather than for the quality of its clothes!

The buzz today is most often generated via social networks where the very good or very bad subjects of the moment are pointed out. The web is like a modern-day Coliseum where the thumbs-up or thumbs-down decides the fate of a reputation. The buzz generated is most often ephemeral. It is therefore reasonable to wonder about the real effects in the medium term. Trying to create a buzz is a risky bet. Trying to do so at any cost exposes one to a poorly measured use of taboo, the unusual or humour. Launching an orchestrated buzz attempt requires great marketing talent, which is not given to all agencies or specialised services. Handle with care!