Marketing or PR mess-ups do not only affect only the Brand at the center of all the controversy. Often, the smartest thing a competitor can do is to monitor the actions of the other companies and be the first to make a move once something goes awry.
Take the PR nightmare GoDaddy faced recently: the company’s CEO, Bob Parsons, shot and killed an elephant and proceeded to post the video online for all the world to see. Clearly, many GoDaddy customers and PETA activists were outraged but such a heartless action. While GoDaddy was dealing with how to clean up the mess, however, a competitor was already on the lookout for ways to capitalize. Almost instantly, Host Papa rolled out an initiative which made a $5 donation to Save the Elephants for every GoDaddy customer who switched to Host Papa.
Another example was between Apple and Nokia back when the iPhone was first released and was only available on the AT&T network. Many customers who wanted the iPhone but weren’t willing to shift from their current providers, such as Verizon, were upset they would not be able to get the iPhone. Nokia quickly took note of the negative attention that the iPhone’s release was getting and deployed new creative to promote their new Nseries phone. The ad’s headline reads “Open to anything” and copy supports the fact that the Nseries was open to all 3rd part apps, unlike the iPhone.
Lastly, back in 2006 Caribou Coffee capitalized on a local Atlanta Starbucks failure to realize how successful one of their coupons would be. Starbucks had provided employees with a coupon for an iced coffee and encouraged them to share it with family and friends. Apparently, Starbucks employees really like to share because soon Starbucks was flooded with people trying to redeem the coupon. Based on the unprecedented success of the coupon, Starbucks decided to stop accepting them. Realizing how angry people were, Caribou Coffee announced they would accept all of the Starbucks coupons within a limited amount of time.