How to Respond After a Bad Ad: Navigating a PR Nightmare

By | public relations, Reputation Management | No Comments

What the public thinks about your brand defines you – for better or worse. Hiring a good advertising agency and producing successful ads sounds simple enough, but no matter how talented the agency, sometimes bad ads happen. How you respond when they do can make or break the future of your brand.


The key to good performance is good preparation. If you are an established Utah advertising agency or a Midwest startup, the principle is the same. Have a plan, and make sure every employee is aware of that plan.

While you can’t plan an exact response to every situation, you can have procedures in place for who will comment on behalf of the company, who will talk to the press, and who will say absolutely nothing. Help employees understand that if a bad ad happens, they can either help turn the situation in a positive direction or they can sink the entire ship.

Respond at the Right Time, in the Right Way

If a bad ad happens, you need to decide how to respond, and you need to decide quickly. Determine the authority of those who are upset. If you are an advertising agency in Utah and the only complaint you have received about an ad is from a man who lives across the street from the office, there probably isn’t a need to publicly respond. On the other hand, if millions of angry people are expressing their opinions on social media and national news outlets are reporting the story, you absolutely need to respond.

Remember the public is always right. Customer service is more important now than ever before. If the public thinks your ad is bad, then it is bad. Pull the ad and issue a sincere apology. Saying “no comment” might as well be commenting, “We’re in the wrong, and we don’t care.”

Replace Bad PR With Good PR

The best solution to bad PR is to simply do better. Adopt a Utah highway as an advertising agency or create a campaign for a local non-profit organization. Show the public that you are trying your best to serve the community, fix any problems, and give consumers the best products and services you can offer.