When Brands Strike Back – Memorable Clapbacks

Discover the art of brand clapbacks and how authenticity can lead to memorable moments. Explore innovative strategies from Ben & Jerry's, Heinz, Patagonia, and more. Learn the key to brand success.

That electrifying rush when you strike gold, or that self-assured pride in the instant you realise, “I’ve nailed it. I’ve created something undeniably ingenious.”

In 2021, Singapore-based telecommunications company Circles.Life landed themselves in hot water after attempting to trendjack a series of racist incidents. The company’s graphic immediately sparked a backlash, with customers and social media users criticising the company for their perceived insensitivity and tone-deafness during this delicate period.

Circles.Life trendjacking post drew criticism from many netizens. Source: Yahoo!Life and Circles.Life

Let’s break it down: When you aim for high rewards, you’re also facing substantial risks. Sometimes, the brilliance is warmly embraced, but on occasion, it leaves brands scorched. Is it luck? Perhaps. Attaining a stroke of genius is born from experience, while consistency lays the foundation for those lucky moments.

Calculated Gambles

Would you call out an entire industry? Well, it’s a path that Ben & Jerry’s, the visionary ice cream creators, has fearlessly embarked upon. Driven by an unwavering commitment to environmental responsibility, they’ve set their sights on none other than the fossil fuel industry, a long-standing contributor to the climate crisis.

In a move as innovative as their mission, they unveiled a limited-edition ice cream flavour with a purpose: “Un-Fudge Our Future!” This delectable creation calls out the fossil fuel industry on their irreplaceable damage to the environment and, in a resounding call to action, implores Australia’s leaders to confront climate change head-on, and to wholeheartedly commit to the elimination of fossil fuel usage.

Ben and Jerry’s delicious climate crisis call-to-action. Source: Totally Vegan Buzz

Battling Ketchup Fraud

In a world where ensuring product authenticity can be a significant challenge, renowned #1 ketchup brand Heinz has taken on the infamous “ketchup fraud” phenomenon head-on. Across restaurants worldwide, a deceptive practice had emerged; Heinz bottles were being refilled with lower-cost, generic brands.

In response, Heinz introduced the ‘Label of Truth’, a brilliantly simple concept of adding the exact Pantone reference colour of their ketchup on their bottles. With a simple glance at the label’s colour, consumers are able to quickly identify whether the ketchup inside is unquestionably the iconic Heinz or a potential imposter. The unapologetic clapback on generic brands and untrustworthy restaurants reignited a powerful emotional connection with consumers, firmly anchoring their trust in the Heinz brand.

Heinz ‘Label of Truth’ colour match. Source: Brand Vision and The Stable
Heinz ‘Label of Truth’ colour match 2. Source: Brand Vision and The Stable

Remaining Authentic to Your Brand

Before dismissing clapbacks as a practice exclusive to fun and quirky brands, pause and examine the shared commonalities beneath. These brands have demonstrated that remaining authentic to your brand’s core identity mitigates the risks and increases the chances of success.

In an industry often marked by unchecked consumerism, American clothing company Patagonia has consistently walked a different path. In a bold move that directly confronted the consumerist frenzy of Black Friday sales, Patagonia made headlines by placing a full-page advertisement in The New York Times. The headline, which emphatically declared ‘Don’t Buy This Jacket,’ sent a powerful message.

Patagonia’s Provocative Advertisement during Black Friday. Source: Patagonia

Patagonia has consistently championed social and environmental consciousness, and the message struck a chord with their target audience – individuals who prioritise environmental causes over mere style. Patagonia demonstrated how they skilfully balanced advocacy efforts with a keen understanding of their audience’s values and priorities, something that was much to be desired from Circles.Life’s attempt.

The Core of Gracious Hospitality.

In a creative announcement of their renovation plans, Mandarin Oriental unveiled a video featuring their CEO seeking the assistance of fellow luxury hotels to look after their guests during the hotel’s refurbishment phase. What followed was a heartwarming yet delightfully cheeky exchange of responses from these hotels, showcasing an inspiring display of camaraderie and mutual understanding within the hospitality industry.

Shangri-La Singapore, for one, shared a video in which their General Manager, John Rice, receives the letter. He humorously remarks on the handwriting, but expresses Shangri-La Singapore’s readiness to extend their exceptional hospitality to all Mandarin Oriental’s guests.

The Love Letter From. Source: CNA Luxury
The Love Letter To. Source: CNA Luxury

The Key to Success

A brilliantly executed campaign, no matter how complex the process, will always appear seamless because every aspect reflects the brand’s essence. Striking the right balance between two key elements, your brand’s identity and the motives driving consumers to choose you, is crucial. It is pertinent that brands navigate the fine line between genuine authenticity and unnecessary effort.


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