Fighting Phooey? Learn From Foo Fighters

That 47-page reactive Q&A document has been through dozens of rounds of amends – Corporate Comms, HR, Legal, the Executive Committee

John from Procurement spilled coffee on the strictly confidential version he wasn’t supposed to have, much less print out and leave in reception, but the stain looked quite nice so there’s a board meeting about moving the company towards using recycled brown paper.

Of course, the whole Internet thinks your brand did That Thing That You Definitely Didn’t Do But Maybe Kind of Did (Q&A Section 33, Section 12, Point 15c). And every single person your brand wants to talk to? Yep, they’re on the Internet.

Your Q&A document is very important. That document is your bible. It’s an extensive work of internal reporting you’ve undertaken and, in the best-case scenario, will help your people sing from the same hymn sheet and keep your ducks in a row when the Fourth Estate calls.

But why not take a page out of someone else’s book too? Preferably someone with a shorter, more interesting book. Someone like Foo Fighters.

Rumours of Foo Fighters’ break-up have been circulating for some time. The way to tackle a rumour? Head on. To own it, and not just by issuing a statement but by owning it in an interesting way, in the process ‘going viral’, as the mysterious millennials you’re trying to reach say.

“But my brand isn’t a rock back – it’s a big and important business, and I’m an impressive man with a stylish but functional briefcase.” I hear you, brother, but it can be done. You just have to do it right.

How about McDonald’s? They have issues to manage, from massive market changes and scrutiny of their food in a newly health conscious society, right down to their insistence on playing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons over and over again in their Bethnal Green branch.

Yet McDonald’s have been savvy enough marketers over recent years to recognise that busting myths and changing perceptions of their brand can be done in different ways. They’ve seen the opportunity to be humble on a global scale and acknowledge the myths they have to bust, with examples, here, here and here:

The Foo Fighters don’t have a boardroom to kill the seed of a good idea before it grows. They did, however, have a big rumour to tackle and they did it head on with good humour. It may seem daunting but it’s often possible for big brands to do that too. Look at McDonald’s.

Cathal Wogan