Australian demographer Bernard Salt caused outrage recently when he suggested millennials could afford to buy houses if they stopped spending money on smashed avocado on toast. Brands jumped on it, leveraging the publicity for their own business. Today, the Brand Newsroom team takes a look at marketing opportunism.

Here are some key take-outs:

  • Sometimes a little controversy isn’t a bad thing for your personal brand. If you know how to ride the wave, you can extend your awareness well beyond your usual reach.
  • There can also be an opportunity to hitch a ride on someone else’s controversy, if you respond in a way that supports your brand’s messages and connects well with your audience.

“There was lots of righteous indignation. Social media blew up. People in this demographic took big offence. That’s when Bernard Salt said ‘right, I’m going to take advantage of this and doubled-down and made it bigger and bigger’.” — Sarah


  • The only time an observation like Bernard Salt’s goes viral is when it really hurts — when it taps into the truth.
  • Courting controversy can polarize your audience. It can be dangerous for corporate brands. You can be offensive but don’t get your customers offside. You have more leeway with your personal brand.

“I subscribe to the idea that all news is good news. For Bernard Salt this is good because it helps him break into different markets.” — Nic


Here are the links you might need

  • Here’s an article about the reaction to Bernard Salt’s comment.
  • Read about ME Bank’s reaction here.
  • And here’s an article about how cafes reacted.


Have you heard the one about…

Recently James, Sarah and Nic spoke to Bernadette Jiwa about putting the love back into marketing.

And here’s a discussion with Content Marketing Institute vice president Michele Linn about the CMI’s 2017 B2B content marketing trends report.


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