Ken Garff Automotive Group recently changed its branding slogan after 80 years in business. The car dealership with locations in Utah, California, Nevada, Iowa, and Texas felt the need to update their brand with the public and in the process become more transparent to build a higher level of trust. That was the idea anyway.
Brett Hopkins, Ken Garff Automotive Group’s CEO, said “The message we’re trying to convey is that our customers should expect a very different car-buying experience when visiting a Ken Garff Dealership. We’ve learned, through extensive research with customers, that in most car-buying experiences, salespeople do too much talking and not enough listening to customers.”
And so the new slogan, “We Hear You” was born. And it’s a good one.
However, a recent version of the ad campaign turned sour when they set up billboards over Independence Day weekend showing the upper body and head of a policeman filling one side and the other, the words …. “He doesn’t hear you. We do.” The problem – total lack of transparency to get those ads up, and trying to build a positive rep while throwing police under the bus.
It turns out, the officer in the picture is a police officer and he was doing a favor for a friend who works at Factory Ad Agency being told his image would be used to sell official police equipment such as helmets. The police were upset, but the public took to social media and let the dealership have it with both barrels.
Almost immediately Factory Ad Agency said it was their fault, but in a good PR decision from KGAG, the group’s representatives responded on Facebook saying it was a bad decision on their part, and they would be taking the signs down immediately. 30 minutes later, they issued a second statement on their Facebook page – “At Ken Garff, we are grateful for all of the hard work of our law enforcement.
We seriously regret our messaging and apologize for making light of their service. We blew it. The signs will be down today and tomorrow.”
Yep, that’s the best first course of action, apologize, don’t minimize, and fix the problem ASAP.