Political correctness online: Navigating the PC police and keyboard warriors

A post on the Social Media Community & Managers group on Facebook prompted us to address the issue of sensitivity, or the apparent high levels of it, on social media. Political correctness online seems to be soaring rather high and the line between right and wrong is becoming increasingly blurry.

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We have gotten to a point now, in this whimsical and unpredictable digital era, where people are afraid of expressing their opinions, whether they are informed or not. We feel like we have to tip-toe and walk on eggshells whenever a controversial topic comes up. The puzzling thing is there is nothing obvious (unless it is REALLY obvious) about the person who is right and who is wrong. People seem to get slammed by members of different factions of society no matter what. What is interesting, though, is that the approach of being purposefully controversial has made its way to the marketing industry.

Purposeful provocation from South African brands online

There is an increasing number of brands in South Africa that are using their marketing skills to make understated political statements, adding to the slew of politically incorrect groups in society. They are almost creating satire surrounding the drama of our government, along with other societal issues. TakeAlot recently used a picture of a sleeping Jacob Zuma to advertise the Simba Sleep mattress. They also made a jest at people they thought needed a second chance at a happy childhood with a Lego ad, with provocative copy that read: “We can’t fix your childhood, but we can give it a second chance with our awesome Lego deals.”

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How does one deal with the level of political correctness online nowadays? Some of it is funny and gracefully executed, but with others, it is guaranteed that at least one group of society will be offended. We are living in an age dubbed the “outrage culture”, defined as those who have mastered the art of being offended by pretty much everything. What is even more apparent is that these people are public about the offence that they take. In an article by Heather Wilhelm of the National Review, these people are almost in pursuit of being offended and this “is practically a credo and all-encompassing way of life.”

Our stand

The question now is: how do we navigate political correctness online but still create quality advertising? We at The Brand Collective take pride in our ability to be sensitive towards all members of society in the marketing we do for various clients, who span across various different sectors and markets. We strive to be funny, but classy. Informative, but not patronizing. Clever, but not arrogant.

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If you are struggling with internet trolls and being politically correct online, let us handle it! Let’s have a chat if this is the case.


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