How to Handle Brand Bullying from Hollywood

October 15, 2019



Hi everybody. We all know that Hollywood is famous for making fun of the misunderstood. Think about how many movies we’ve seen – whether it was on car dealers or lobbyists. The famous actress Kirsten Dunst has got at least a couple movies where she makes fun of beauty pageants or cheerleaders. Others have been done about dog shows or folk music. Hollywood is famous for mocking different brands – specific brands – as well as industries as a whole. Here at Sunwest Communications, we recently had a client that called us up and said, “Hey, there’s a new Showtime series that’s making fun of our industry. What do we do?” Of course, easy for the PR people to say – well, flattery will get you everywhere. Don’t worry about it. But that’s not gonna sit too well in the C-suite. So what we told them is, you need to take it seriously, but don’t overreact.


And here’s what we meant. A lot of folks would immediately want to put out a statement to say, “Hey, there’s this new series that’s being done. It is not a representation of our industry or who we are,” followed by tweets and a social media campaign. The problem is, is most consumers who are watching the show and perhaps involved in your industry may not have even put the two together, because the likelihood is that Hollywood has taken it so far over the top that most general consumers didn’t ever see the connection. So you don’t want to look like you’re protesting too much, that you’re too defensive, because I think a lot of people would perceive that as you thinking that the show has hit too close to home and there might be a little bit of truth to it. On the other hand, from an industry perspective, you also want to make sure that your stakeholders and your customers aren’t caught off guard or surprised.


So the advice we gave: Make sure that you’re communicating early – and if need be – again, alerting those folks who are most interested that the show is going on, the movie’s coming out, no need to be alarmed, but we wanted to make sure that you were aware. That way, you’re not too defensive, but you’re also not accused of sitting in the dark, not paying attention, and not letting your most valuable customers and stakeholders know that you’re on top of it. And that’s Two Minutes of Advice Today from Sunwest.