Quotation Beer, Alexander. 2021. Choose your words wisely. ABC Regional Conference, Vienna/Online, Austria, 27.08.




This presentation will look at the impact which supposedly inappropriate communication used in (mostly, but not necessarily limited to) advertising may have on stakeholders and, consequently, an organization's bottom line. Inspired by a current dispute – considered a scandal by some – surrounding the use of a swear word in a TV commercial by a large American fast food chain, we will look at a range of past cases where advertisements or other instances of corporate communication created public backlash based on what was perceived as inappropriate language or insensitive portrayals such as cultural appropriation and socially controversial behavior. With the ongoing proliferation of social media, this is increasingly becoming a major issue for companies, leading to such potentially expensive consequences as widespread boycotts. In this presentation, we will examine the questionable features of the respective ads, how stakeholders who felt affected by the company's choice of communication elements reacted, and what action the companies in question did or did not take to address the issue. Where appropriate, we will also consider any monetary loss resulting from such backlash. Most importantly, an attempt will be made to state what those organizations could or should have done differently – or to determine whether the controversy was actually the intentional outcome from the beginning, along the lines of the old adage, "there is no such thing as bad publicity". To conclude the talk, we will highlight one controversial advertisement and invite the audience to share their perceptions, which we will then compare against the actual aftermath of said advertisement.


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Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Paper presented at an academic conference or symposium
Language English
Title Choose your words wisely
Event ABC Regional Conference
Year 2021
Date 27.08.
Country Austria
Location Vienna/Online


Beer, Alexander (Details)
Institute for English Business Communication IN (Details)
Institute for English Business Communication (Köster) (Details)
Competence Center for Business Languages WE (Details)
Research areas (ÖSTAT Classification 'Statistik Austria')
5344 Foreign trade (Details)
6603 American studies (Details)
6605 English language and literature (Details)
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