Fuse Friday’s: What brands can learn from the ‘Ariana Grande licking donuts’ debacle

Earlier this week, TMZ released security footage of singer/ diva/ donut hater Ariana Grande walking into a donut shop with friends, covertly licking the donuts on display before rudely cussing and dissing America. Oh Hollywood!

You can watch the full clip here but for now let’s take a look at what brands can learn from this donut catastrophe.

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Lesson 1- Don’t do something just because everyone else is doing it 

In the video, we see Ariana copying her boyfriend as she proceeds to lick donuts without getting caught just for a bit of fun. I can see how she’s trying to embrace YOLO and that she was probably showing off in front of her friends to prove that she could do it too. However, this teaches us that it doesn’t always pay off to do something just because someone else is doing it. In the brand space, it seems that often clients will see something another brand is doing and may say “I want to do that! Can we create an app like that, let’s do that too!”

Now this is not to say that brands shouldn’t take risks because they absolutely should challenge convention, but a calculated risk would have been more beneficial in this instance. The last thing you want for your clients is to blend right into a cluttered environment. Even if brands want to venture out and try something new that another brand may be testing, it’s probably worthwhile to evaluate the consequences first and weigh up how they could do it better. In Ariana’s case, if she was going to mimic her boyfriend, she could’ve handled this smarter by at least paying for the donuts.

If you’re Ariana’s boyfriend – who cares? If you’re Ariana- everyone cares!

Lesson 2- Don’t be too quick to judge 

Towards the end of the clip when the supposed innocent shop assistant brings out a tray of what seems to me like perfectly glazed donuts, Ariana rudely responds with, “What the f#@k is that!?” before even tasting them. I personally would have graced that tray of donuts with open arms and maybe then would’ve been able to make an informed judgement of how it tastes. If you judge too quickly without truly knowing, how are you meant to get inspired or think differently and strategically if you don’t fully immerse yourself into a new experience? To break out of your comfort zone and at least respect that not everything is done the way you typically do things, is the best way to spark creativity and new ideas.

Lesson 3- Lead by example

For the big finale, Ariana states that she “hates America and hates Americans”. Probably not the best thing to say about where you’re from and where your fans are from. In her apology, she says she meant that she blames her frustration on how Americans consume food and that it’s a cause for high obesity rates. While this may be true, her poor choice of words and actions tell us otherwise. Lesson here for brands is to simply respect and be truthful to your audience especially when they look up to and trust you. You never know who is watching!

Lesson 4- People talk, make sure you give them something good to talk about  

The fact that this story has flooded my social newsfeed and also featured in the top 3 US Google trends, proves that people care and are quick to notice behaviour/ bad behaviour even more so. In a world of rapid and accessible information, it really is increasingly important that actions, values and attitudes are top-of-mind! It’s important to remember that people are watching very closely and will always eventually discover your true colours. With social media becoming the most significant conversation tool, it’s imperative to consider giving people something good to talk about.

For brands, Ariana’s fiasco can act as a reminder that you shouldn’t do something just because someone else is doing it, shouldn’t ever be too quick to judge, should always lead by example to ensure your followers stay by your side and should open the gate for positive conversation to warrant your brands relevance. On the other hand, this whole incident shows that even though this was quite negative, consumers are more interested in human truths than advertising truths so how can brands tap into this without being ridiculed for not being perfect? Let’s take a moment over tea and donuts to think about it…

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