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How Would the Tech Giants Face up to Brand Backlash?

As Hollywood prepares to release the film of Dave Eggers’s The Circle - a dystopian tale set in a fictionalised Google/Facebook - the FT claims these once countercultural disruptors have become ‘The Man’ in the popular media discourse.

So, we wanted to ask what might become of their brands in a climate of growing public suspicion?

The FT says media coverage of technology has changed tack with a once positive take on the economic advantages it offered shifting to a more critical tone. Here, technology is responsible for impeding human interaction, threatening our jobs and is under fire for falling short of its Utopian promise.


The Circle


In a media atmosphere like this, will brand perception be under threat for the FANGs (FacebookAmazonNetflixGoogle)? Those companies whose products and services became so entwined with our lives, they barely needed concern themselves with the traditional brand communications channels of advertising to establish our unwavering devotion.

If the very experiences on which brand love has been built for these modern corporate Goliaths to-date are questioned – Google scorned for absolute ownership of information (including our own) or Amazon reproached for its role in growing unemployment rather than celebrated for its unparalleled convenience – what strategy will they need to adopt to keep these brands on track?


Just for fun, here’s a fictional brief and creative solution for a future in which the FANGs are losing their shine:


Problem: Against a backdrop of high profile scientific studies into the impact of social media on youth mental health, Instagram is facing a user backlash (most notably the #whosperfect? phenomenon which gained more followers than Selena Gomez in just two weeks). It needs to refocus audiences on the positive value of connection to family and friends and Instagram’s role in making discoveries through others.


Insight: We all know the image is a frozen (often manipulated) moment in time and doesn’t tell the whole story. But when the stream rarely slows long enough to give pause for thought, it’s easy to lose sight of this.


Creative solution: To tell the whole story behind some of the platform’s most popular posts we launch Instagram: Beyond the Image. A brand platform that celebrates the stories behind famous frozen moments.

A series of films distributed online and as TV ads focus on the surprising truths behind the 20th century’s most celebrated photographs. Brand-curated exhibitions across major cities follow this theme, supported by candid talks from famous photographers. 

This all creates the foundation for the campaign focal point. Across Instagram and other social platforms we unpick the truth behind the social network’s greatest hits – spawning viral video sensations in the process: 

One of the platforms biggest stars tells the story of their struggle with stage fright through five images, showing self-doubt where fans had previously only seen invincibility. Another tells how reconnecting with a childhood friend through Instagram changed their attitude to friendship for the better, sharing five unflinchingly honest images new to an otherwise manicured feed.


The result: Instagram is celebrated in the media for bringing down its own ‘third wall’; a new clutch of influencers see their social presence explode as their feeds go evermore ‘beyond the image’. 

All brand health measures see a sharp upturn. 

Across all age demographics Instagram engagement and user acquisition increases, encouraging new category advertisers to debut ads on the network.


Got your own fictional briefs for troubled FANGs of the future? Share them with us via Twitter @rpmltd