Billboard brew-haha should be a lesson to all

Posted by Albers Communications on May 30, 2013 |

Courtesy: Imgur via USA Today

Courtesy: Imgur via USA Today

We’ve said it and heard it a million times: Pictures speak a thousand words.

In today’s world, it can also mean bad pictures can equal a thousand pages of bad press.

For national retailer J.C. Penney, a billboard image is steaming up social media…and not in a good way. Commuters in Southern California saw more than just a contemporary tea kettle towering over Interstate 405. Drivers say the teapot bears an uncanny resemblance to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

To their credit, JCP execs reacted quickly to the social outcry that was picking up steam. Within hours, they tweeted responses saying that any likeness was “certainly unintended,” and suggested that perhaps their billboard should have gone with a snowman, puppy, bunny or a baby panda kettle. Within 24 hours, the billboard was gone. As was the (sold out) Michael Graves-designed kettle from

This JCP misstep should be a lesson to everyone who uses image marketing. That being, look twice…see the bigger picture. Do the images that you are using for your company tell a story about who you are? And for goodness sake, get a second opinion before you put it in print. Let alone on a gigantic billboard.

A company’s quick response to a brewing storm is extremely important. But it’s never as important as staying out of hot water in the first place. As they say, a watched pot never boils. Keep your eye on the flame.




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