How Crocs Should Have Reacted to That Fake Ad
By now, you've seen that Crocs ad from London production company Compulsory which celebrates teen sex. By now, you've also noted the ad is fake and was not endorsed by the brand. Much like JCPenney which distanced itself from a fake ad (which won a Bronze Lion!) that also centered on teen sex, Crocs called the ad offensive and said, "We're very concerned by it, because it does not reflect our company values as a global lifestyle brand."
While that statement may be true, had we been running the show at Crocs last week, we would have handled the situation quite differently. While it's never advisable for a brand to lie, playing along with a publicity bubble for a while doesn't do much harm and c an have great benefit.
Crocs, an almost-dead brand that has been struggling hopelessly for years to regain any sense of cool it might once have had, should certainly, as it did, state they did not create the ad. But rather than take the pious position it did regarding the ad and the fact it doesn't reflect the company's values, the brand should have embraced the work and employed a bit of perspective.
Rather than lash out like a preacher in the pulpit on a Sunday, the brand might have reacted with a bit of tongue and cheek saying, perhaps, "While we don't condone casual sex, we certainly do condone donning stylish footwear while engaging in social activities like Parcheesi or group Candy Crush."
It would have been so simple to go along for the ride at least for a short time. At minimum, allow the ad to play out as it did in the media for a bit before taking the wind out of the sails. Yes, it's a fine line to walk. Brands do have to live up to what they stand for but brands can, and should, also embrace a windfall because they don't come along very often. Certainly not for a failing brand like Crocs.
The fact the ad was one of the worst ever created is another story entirely.