A car dealership in Ontario, Canada made the news unexpectedly in July 2020 after they distributed a marketing flyer for a sales event in the midst of the pandemic — depicting two people wearing masks while shaking hands.

It was an obvious marketing gaffe to show both handshaking and people not following social distancing guidelines — which is at odds with rules local health officials are encouraging citizens to follow.

“It’s the type of unforced error that brands can’t afford to make as they try to win back the trust of their customers,” said Andrew Baker, CEO of MyAdbox, an Australian-based provider of marketing automation tools. “Brands encourage their franchisees to do local marketing, but they need better controls to ensure the marketing is consistent with brand standards and approved messaging.”

The car dealership had to quickly apologize after a customer received the flyer and posted it on Twitter. It was picked up by local and national media, prompting the manufacturer to issue a statement to help clean up the mess.

(Source: Twitter.com)

In a statement to CTV News Toronto, Nissan Canada said its dealership used a "publicly available stock advertising image" for a flyer but it has since been removed.

"We have contacted the dealership and they are removing it from their store immediately given the conflicting message and inappropriateness of the image," said Nissan Canada in an article posted on CTV News, one of Canada’s national broadcasters. "This was not intentional and the dealer has apologized for their actions.”

The news story quickly spread across other news outlets.

“We have a lot of car companies as clients because they are trying to curb ‘rogue’ marketing,” said Baker. “In this specific example, the manufacturer could have provided full access to a library of customizable images that could have been used in print, digital and on social media.”

Baker said his firm helps national brands control the messaging their franchise networks can distribute through MyAdbox. All brand-approved assets are centralized in an online platform that the network franchisees can access and easily customize for their local markets.

While stock libraries can be useful sources of content for advertising and marketing, there are also risks with using them. “During the pandemic, some of our OEM clients used the MyAdbox platform to remove all the imagery from their asset libraries that depicted things like customers shaking hands or unsafe social distancing practices,” said Baker. “With a couple of clicks, the unsafe material was no longer available for use, and it was replaced with new content.”

Baker said the car dealerships have embraced using the automated MyAdbox marketing platform because they can access a steady flow of brand approved content that they can customize. “The dealerships can add their logos and calls to action, and swap out headlines and body copy on the ads and even replace the featured vehicles. This way they can easily create customized ads to market the inventory they need to sell,” said Baker.

With emotions running high and the public scrutinizing how brands are responding to the public health crisis, it’s more important than ever to lock down marketing and present the right message, said Baker.

MyAdbox is a SaaS company that has developed its own brand automation platform and ancillary software/client services that are being used by big brands on four continents around the globe to drive down marketing production costs in their networks and generate tangible brand benefits.

For more information about MyAdbox brand automation products contact Kristina Alexiou. kalexiou@myadbox.ca

(Sources: www.24news.ca/the-news/economic-news/455224-ontario-car-dealership-apologizes-after-seemingly-obvious-advertising-mistake