Q: "There is no such thing as bad publicity." (2023)


This is a sample essay for the 2015 A-level exam question given by teachers at my school. The examples used in this essay may be out of date for use in 2018, so it is recommended that you do your research and use recent examples and events to show that you are up to date with the world and its current events.

To stand out against intense competition, advertising is a key factor in drawing attention to one's product, service, or idea. Positive publicity has a positive impact. Overall, a positive review in the New York Times Book Review increased sales of this book by 32 to 52 percent. To calculate this, the researchers looked at the books' sales history four weeks before the review and compared it to four weeks after the review was published. Unfortunately, not all publicity comes from positive news and reviews. Bad publicity can arise after a lie or inaccuracy is exposed. Advertising is sometimes used to inflate business capabilities and consumer expectations, but expectations can be carelessly exaggerated, exposed as false in the form of bad publicity, leading to disappointment and loss of confidence. When a company fails to deliver on its promises, customers, employees, and partners are more likely to question the accuracy of current and future company messages. Regaining trust can be difficult and take a long time. Distrust expressed by word of mouth and via social media can take years to resolve, and can often only be resolved when vocal supporters eventually outnumber critics. With this in mind, I strongly believe that bad publicity would in most cases have negative repercussions and can only be used to elicit a positive response under extenuating circumstances.


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Bad publicity, especially when it comes to the core value of integrity, can cause companies to lose trust and credibility with consumers, especially if a particular company has always presented itself with a clean image. Any violation of this image may result in a consumer boycott of the company and a corresponding loss of sales. Once trust is lost, it is often difficult to restore. The Breadtalk soymilk saga has tarnished their public image of the company's integrity and the way their products are received. Many consumers have taken up the issue online, even threatening to boycott the company from future purchases for mislabeling its bottles of soy milk in such an unethical manner. Consumers were outraged that they were tricked into paying for "overpriced" soy milk. By examining 240 fiction book titles reviewed by The New York Times, researchers found that, unsurprisingly, positive reviews consistently increased sales by 32% to 52%. Again, unsurprisingly, for books by established authors, negative reviews resulted in a 15% drop in sales. Follow-up studies confirmed the reason: In another study, participants read positive or negative reviews of books by known or new authors. Some participants were immediately asked to rate the likelihood that they would buy such a book, while others were given a separate task and then asked if they would buy the book. For well-known books, negative publicity resulted in a lower probability of purchase, regardless of whether participants expressed their preferences immediately or with a delay. Another brand of water, Dasani, marketed by Coca-Cola, had a rushed launch and garnered bad publicity. When the source of the bottled water was revealed to be purified water from public reservoirs, it was linked to a famous and hugely popular BBC comedy series Only Fools and Horses, in which the characters sold tap water as "Peckham Spring". Without a credible brand to back it up, the product was withdrawn and never sold again.


It is a fact that bad publicity leaves a lasting impression on consumers and can damage brand loyalty. Companies may have to spend millions of dollars to fix this "PR blunder," especially if they have been inundated with bad news in a short time. This is especially true for companies facing speculation and lawsuits about their business practices and the mistakes they make. Noble Group has been targeted by short sellers due to a lack of transparency in its accounting practices. This accusation comes at a high price, as they have to hire a leading accounting firm, PWC, to clear the air. Millions of dollars have been spent to buy back its shares to prop up its share price, which has fallen 70% since the scandal broke. Volkswagen was recently embroiled in a scandal and controversy that they cheated on fuel emissions tests. They could face a fine of up to billions of dollars, and the company's recent results have shown a drop in sales. While it is too early to conclude that the drop in sales is due to this negative news, it is highly likely that Volkswagen will face increasing competition to regain customer trust.

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The reputation and prestige of an organization or party can be damaged by bad publicity involving politicians and athletes involved in scandals. Distancing yourself from the cause of the bad publicity must be vital and evident so that the reputation of these organizations is not tarnished. Very often this leads to the loss of "face", status and even financial gain in a desperate attempt to preserve the integrity of the organization or party. Tiger Woods lost millions to endorsement deals and people don't see him the same way after news of his affair broke. The personal indiscretions of former Singapore MPs Michael Palmer and David Ong were also handled in a very "PR-related" manner to ensure that the image of Singapore's ruling party, the People's Action Party, was not tarnished.


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Whether bad publicity leads to negative consequences depends on how skillfully companies use bad publicity to create marketing hype about their company and the new products they want to bring to market. "Bad" publicity can be based on controversial points such as: B. restricting the type of consumers to buy your products or even discriminatory employment practices. The resulting marketing hype builds on that negative publicity and appears snobbish to consumers or makes the public curious about the brand. Abercrombie and Fitch made headlines for refusing to buy their clothes from customers who are too "fat and old" because they didn't fit the demographic they were trying to target. This can have the reverse effect of building the company's brand image as "hot, sporty and sexy" and getting more young people to buy its products. After the movie 'Borat' relentlessly mocked the nation of Kazakhstan, Hostels.com reported a 300% increase in requests for information about the country, and a wine described by a popular website as 'smells like socks' Stinky' posted a 5% increase in sales. In a new study from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, researchers say that in some cases, when a product or company is relatively unknown, negative publicity can increase sales simply because it stimulates product awareness.


Celebrities use bad publicity to become famous and constantly be in the spotlight. Perversely, bad publicity keeps celebrities in the headlines with details that excite the public. This is especially relevant in this highly competitive cutthroat industry that requires people to simply be "known" and carve out a niche. In such cases, any form of publicity would be good publicity as long as their names are mentioned. It suggests that at least their names are in people's minds and have a chance to be remembered. Famous singer Justin Beiber has frequently made headlines for his bad boy behavior, such as: B. drunk driving and even punching people in the street. Despite these incidents of bad behavior, his fame and reputation grows every time he is in the news about something negative. It seems that he is taking advantage of the "bad name" to make his mark in the music industry. In fact, Justin Beiber has been trying to shed the clean image of him ever since he was first introduced to this industry. He was criticized for being too "young and immature" when he first burst onto the music scene, which caused many not to take his work seriously. The boy had a rough few months in late 2010 and 2011. He has been branded a 'crazy' and 'drug addict' by most national newspapers and online publications in both the UK and US (and Worldwide). His face seemed to be a regular feature on news and gossip shows, with increasingly frequent quips that seemed to prove the scoffers right. But Charlie Sheen was (and still is) in his own world. If anything, he became an internet legend, even though the bad press/publicity cost him his job. Interviews and quotes from him made him the ultimate modern hero. And the less he defended his actions, the cooler we thought he was. "Bad" publicity also occurs when fans of a rock group or artist hear that their "idol" is making disparaging comments about a public issue or debate. Of course, whether the ad has a negative impact depends on the severity of the comment or the topic itself. For example, fans expect Eminem to occasionally speak out about his ex or rival, while the allegations about Chris Brown's treatment of Rihanna have certainly lost him some fans, but gained him a lot of public attention.


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Publicity is indeed a double-edged sword, and it really depends on how forgiving the public is of any negative news. So why is the public so forgiving of some people and companies while so punishing of others? Bad publicity is never welcome. However, the way a person or company handles it can make or break an urgent deal or situation. Thinking that bad publicity is not going to happen to anyone is not an option. This must be individually planned and prepared. Just preparing for negative headlines can prevent a bad story from turning into a terrible one.

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Is there really such a thing as bad publicity? ›

There most certainly is a bad form of publicity. The value or product awareness pales in comparison to the negative effects associated with negative publicity. It's all too common for information about a company through sound bites, memes, and gaffes to flood the internet and social media channels.

What does this quote mean there is no such thing as bad publicity? ›

What's the meaning of the phrase 'There is no such thing as bad publicity'? 'There is no such thing as bad publicity' is the notion that all mentions in the media aid a person's cause, even if they put them in a bad light.

Who said there is no such thing as bad publicity? ›

Barnum once said, “There's no such thing as bad publicity” P.T. Barnum once said, “There's no such thing as bad publicity,” which is almost as good as Oscar Wilde's version, who put it like this: “There's only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

Who said bad publicity is good publicity? ›

1) The phrase was coined by a circus showman - he was the exception, not the rule. PT “The Greatest Showman” Barnum built a business empire on live acts and curiosities. Therefore it made sense for him to find bad publicity more advantageous than the dull hum of obscurity.

Is bad publicity still good? ›

When bad publicity is incongruent with an established good brand reputation, the results will probably not be favorable. Yet when a company (or individual) has a reputation for being a “bad ass” or a “disruptor” of sorts, negative publicity can help burnish their “disruptive” reputation.

What is an example of bad publicity? ›

One of the most notable bad PR examples in 2022 was when a large streaming service deleted thousands of user reviews from its site without explanation or notification to its customers. Customers felt betrayed and outraged, leading to a huge backlash against the company that quickly spread across social media.


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