Heidi Sullivan’s* recent blog post about “the Amp app” makes a valid point: “Don’t alienate your customers.”  She also gives credit to our client, Bigelow Tea, whom she cites as a positive example of a brand adapting its messaging after discovering its social media audience differs from the audience it expected to find.  This is the kind of advice and execution businesses tend to appreciate.

But there’s another side to the Amp issue — namely, PepsiCo’s willingness to alienate potential customers in exchange for the attendant publicity.  Since those presumed to be put off by the application are women, Amp — which is aimed at young, active males — is willing to offend half the planet’s population simply because its parent company has already written women off as unlikely purchasers of their product.

But Amp apparently didn’t count on men being offended by the app as well, or at least not men in their target demographic.  So now it’s conceivable that more than 50% of potential Amp consumers will have a negative opinion of the brand, which means Amp had better hope that it could remain profitable based solely on sales to those in its expected demographic (and that they didn’t also find Amp’s advertising objectionable).

Controversy may generate publicity, but why so starkly reduce the number of individuals who are likely to see your brand as an emblem of positive self-image?  Why market a product in a way that makes others doubt the values of those who buy it?

Social media isn’t just about the message — it’s about the people (or companies) who conceive of it, create it and share it.  And no bad idea gets a greenlight without someone thinking it’s a good idea.

Make sure your messages represent the values YOU want to be known for.

*  Our own Valorie Luther was thrilled to be joining Heidi on a Blog World Expo panel until a sprained ankle forced Valorie to cancel her role in the event.  We here at Creative Concepts still wish Valorie’s panel-mates a spirited and productive debate!