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A woman looking to the left making a disgusted face
Simon Bullmore12/10/2023 29:03 PM1 min read

Avoid the ick

The ick. That moment on a date or in a relationship when you hear or see something that makes being with that person intolerable.  The way they talk down to a waiter, a challenging political opinion, a throwaway comment. 

When you get the ick you reevaluate your relationship with that person. We do the same with brands.

A brand or business you love can behave in ways that are so surprising, so misaligned with your values, that you reconsider your feelings for them. You may even call time on that relationship. Think about marketing that pursues you across platforms, or tries to manipulate you in weird ways.

In the ethical digital marketing community we help the businesses we serve avoid icky moments. How can you do that too?

  • Think about messaging and creatives. Are they aligned with the brand values you and your customers share?
  • Evaluate ad targeting and retargeting. Do our adverts pester or persist?
  • Use data ethically. Is the way we use data about people ethical and transparent?
  • Accessibility. Can our content be accessed and used by everyone?
  • Activism. Do we authentically support the values and causes our community cares about?
  • Purpose. Does our marketing reflect our customers' values and morals?

And remember the ick isn’t what’s obvious and prominent. Your customers wouldn’t be with you if they found your whole vibe repellant.

It’s the detail that matters. The tiny thing that triggers a feeling of discomfort, a feeling that something’s wrong. 

This is where alignment is key. Unless you are 100% clear how you, your customers and your marketing support each other and the values they reflect, AND make sure that this alignment is shared and operationalised in your business (ie across product, sales, marketing and customer service) an icky moment could be on the horizon. Eurghhh.

Avoid the ick. Join the community of ethical digital marketing professionals. People who care about their values and do work that makes their friends proud. 

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Simon Bullmore

Simon helps our clients develop effective growth strategies and data literacy programmes. With a background in business psychology, Simon has worked in data, business development and training for over 17 years. This includes leading the learning programme at the Tim Berners-Lee founded Open Data Institute, and the launch of Harvard Business School's first European office.