Stop Marketing.

Start Engaging.

Brands Need To Stop This. Now.

On this historic day, 50 years ago, one of the greatest speeches in history was given. “I Have A Dream” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was spoken. It gave me chills when I heard it for the first time when I was 8, and it still does today.

So why not celebrate this historic day, by making it about golf?!

Shame on the Golf Channel. I cannot fathom someone sitting around a desk saying “I know how we can go viral!! Let’s newsjack! Tweet it up!”

Stop. Doing. This.

Stop trying to piggyback off holidays and celebrations by making it about you.

Stop trying to “go viral” or “trend”.

You know what a brand should do today? Nothing. Or show some respect and send out a tweet like “On this historic day 50 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr had a dream. Thank-you for changing the world.” Or whatever it is you want to say.

You don’t need to leverage this speech. You don’t need to leverage natural disasters. You don’t need to capitalize on civil unrest.

You need to be human. It’s not always about business.

(Special thanks to everyone that took screen shots and sent them to me)

  • Bang on Scott. Time and Place. Wasting their drivel on social media with non relevant items. Obviously not marketers or have any understanding of conversion as well as tasteless

  • BrendonWalker

    So this is what happens when the creative hipster in digital has an idea…!

    I think, more than anything, we have a generation at the wheel of digital marketing, who unfortunately lack respect for just about anything. It’s sad.

  • I have a scrapbook titled, “WTF Were They Thinking!?” Things like this go in it.

    I think when done well, you can pay homage to great thinkers, meaningful days, etc. But not willy nilly, fast, thoughtless, cheap like this.

  • Angela Moore

    So much more to be focused on. Especially this week.

  • Tom Willis

    50 years to move from the ignorance of segregation to the ignorance of impropriety and shallowness of spirit.

  • I agree. Can’t we just commemorate, remember, and reflect rather than try to think of some slick marketing ploy? Gotten out of hand.

  • Joanna Armstrong

    Agree 100%. Leveraging like this just makes these companies look like scum.

  • Bill M

    Media is doing it as well, making MLK a commodity, ” What would MLK think about X?” disgusting.

  • Denice


  • Wendy_McClelland

    Totally agree! Really disappointed to see SO many high profile brands using today to get their own message out.

  • Heike Yates

    All I can say is: Seriously?!?! do you need business that bad!?!?!

  • Jane Hendry

    I think this only goes to show that some brands have not yet figured out that their prospects and customers are actually human beings not consumer-units. That’s basically how they think of us, and it shows when they insult everyone’s intelligence in this way.

    The new paradigm, as far as I understand it, is about recognising that your customers are, first and foremost, intelligent human beings with feelings, beliefs and ethics. Not low-intelligence robots that will respond to every stupid advertising campaign in a conditioned way like Pavlov’s dogs and the bells.

    What a disgrace to try to capitalise on the work of someone trying to end hundreds of years of oppression. A somewhat more important topic than golf!

  • Rebecca Ruck

    Good taste cannot be taught. Someone please take the keys away from the person (or team) that came up with that one. They are obviously in the wrong profession.

  • maryannehahn

    Thank you, Scott.

  • Joan Stewart

    I remember the week after 9/11, people were sending email blasts promoting their products and promising to give a percentage to the cleanup or the victims’ families. Incredibly tacky.

  • Julie Tallard Johnson

    Yup. Virtual is getting more and more so.

  • TheIrreverentSalesGirl

    It is just LAZY to take the topic of the day and turn it into your own version of “warmed-over-porridge”. Bad move, indeed!

  • This is quite annoying. A similar thing happened around the Aurora shooting incident, when a fashion retailer tried to take advantage of the word ‘Aurora’ because it was trending at that time. They had to delete the tweet and apologize, though.

  • Melissa Wood

    Dear lord, that is a truly awful Tweet.

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  • Re-Marketing

    I think the Golf Channel succeeded, I would not have known about them had it not been for this information feed. Un-Marketing gets a bit of promotion off the back of the Martin Luther King speech and I’m thinking about taking up golf.

  • Serge Masson

    Yes indeed, cheap marketing teams can find the most stupid ideas to get some attention. If it was funny at least…

  • Lauren

    Totally agree Scott. This is the tackiest trend.

  • Repeating what I said on The Facebook yesterday:

    This is a lazy marketing tactic. It’s just cheap and too easy and the fight for civil rights has nothing to do with the broadcast of golf on television. It’s just silly. I’m not making any sort of political statement here, as people on both the left and the right are often quick to say. Can the civil rights movement just be celebrated without tawdry exhortations to “Like this picture if you support MLK’s dream!” and “MLK had a dream, what’s your #golfdream?” As a brand, you DON’T have to weave your product into every single current event. A torrent of human attention will swirl around big anniversaries for just a brief moment – this is NOT a chance for your brand to get seen by those gathered masses, no matter how tempting it is to take advantage of!

  • HiltonB1

    Scott – I posted this blog on Monday. Genuinely as a homage to a spectacular speech rich in lessons. Inappropriate in your opinion?

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  • Amen. Martin Luther King’s birthday has already been somewhat commercialized, and it falls so close to Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays it would almost feel as if he were excluded if we didn’t use his name to sell stuff.

    I remember when stores closed for Memorial Day–it was a big deal when they began to remain open. But they had to. If they didn’t their competitor would. Now some retailers are open all day on Thanksgiving, and no doubt Christmas will go the same way.

    These grand national holidays when the majority of people across the country have a day off are just too big an opportunity for retailers and marketing to ignore, and I’m not going to argue that they should. i will argue, however that there is a right way to do it, and a profane way to do it.

    You don’t price a pair of shoes at Four Score and Seven Dollars on Lincoln’s Birthday. You do not under any circumstances use the American flag as a marketing device–you may use a red, white and blue color palette, but never the flag itself. And any retailer or media outlet that has anything to do with golf or golf clubs, most of which would not have admitted Reverend King as a member when he was alive, should probably remain quiet on this day.

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  • Wepaar

    Brands these days have gone viral, getting their business done. They all do care is their business….

  • Scott Allen
  • As a social media manager myself, I’m often surprised at how far other social media managers will go for RTs, comments, or favs. Do they honestly think anyone will go for stuff like that? Idk. It just seems very out of touch.

  • Kinex Media

    I agree with your point of view of this article.Thank you!This is a good article. Very timely given us so much information.

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  • Shane Harley

    This is a touchy one for me as I am building a brand and internet presence for a client who is a retailer of artistic, hand-crafted, ethnic, and fair-trade goods from around the world, including housewares, clothing, jewelry, home furnishings, greeting cards, etc. I am attempting to establish her as an authority, and source of educational, multi-cultural information as well as to gently impart her political message. She has very high ethics, but is ultimately trying to drive business to her store. “Piggy-backing” on holidays and other traditions, celebrations and historical events, both local and global, offers a natural opportunity for presenting this type of information which we hope will be widely shared and lead ultimately to increased sales. Hmmm…. I am trying to be sensitive, respectful, give good information…. Like I said, “touchy.” Any thoughts or advice?

    • Shane Harley

      Here is a sample FB post:

      September 9th, 2013 marks the beginning of Ganesh Chaturthi. The 10-day festival celebrates Ganesha, the Elephant Headed God, widely revered as remover of obstacles, opener of doors, patron of art, learning and wisdom.

      Offerings of sweets are made calling on the powerful energy of Ganesha to ensure success in new ventures. The mantra “Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha”, loosely “Yo! Wake up Root Chakra, Energy of Transformation, so I can move through any obstacle in my life. Hooray” is invoked to open the path of your unfolding spirit.

      Ganesha is a highly popular and non-sectarian Deva throughout India and beyond. His wide-spread appeal was used in 1893 by Lokmanya Tilik as a uniting force, to bring together the people of India in a grassroots movement to overcome British rule.

      • Shane Harley

        Also posted at this time was text and photos re. a Ganesha statue which had just arrived in a shipment from India, and which had motivated the research leading to the coincidental discovery of the holiday.

        • Marketing religious or sacred items from unfamiliar cultures is fraught with peril. For example, we’ve made a bit of a mess with Native American arts and crafts. We’ve put Egyptian mummies on public display. What I would do, in an abundance of caution, is track down an expert–or even a website–on world religions for an opinion, simply to avoid confusion and put your mind at ease. I just searched Ganesh on eBay–I think you’re okay. Ganesh is ubiquitous on t-shirts, figurines, you name it. He’s a rock star. But I wouldn’t have known that till I checked.

  • I would chalk this up to major enterprises hiring twenty somethings who are so called “social experts” after 2 years of experience and are expected to produce new, fresh, viral content every day. It’s a recipe for an eventual foot in the mouth PR disaster.

  • Jeremiah

    This is spot on. As the CEO of a small marketing firm, on 9/11 I wanted to do something only in remembrance of that day. #alwaysremember was trending so I looked it up on FB and found several companies using it only to market their brands. One did not even say anything about 9/11 only spoke about their business and then put the hashtag at the end. I commented on two different businesses post which did this, they replied with “We wanted to do something ‘small’ in remembrance of 9/11”. I replied that they were pathetic, both posts were removed. I agree in full, if you are going to remember the day, date, point in history, do it without trying to push your brand. When we see this we need to push back. Thanks Scott.

  • Mark Jones

    I cannot agree more with this, I am working on a piece with Aaron Dignam on a pretty controversial piece of highjacking by a pretty well know bank here in Ireland. ” brands don’t need to capitalize on civil unrest” So true

  • Interesting

    I wonder if this is “newsjacking” or a symptom of a larger dysfunctional area when it comes to connecting with a multicultural audience.

  • Matthew Swenson

    The Golf Channel may refer to Reverend King’s legacy by telling us how the civil rights movement made the sport better.

  • Storewars News

    Interesting article! Here is something interesting too: Imperial Tobacco Unit Suing U.S. E-Cigarette Makers,
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