All publicity is good publicity, right? Is there at least a little bit of truth to this adage? The question came to mind after reading a story about a small lodge in Dublin called The White Moose Café and Charleville Lodge. In short, the owner of the business had made posts mocking a YouTube blogger who had asked him for free lodging in exchange for exposure through her videos. In a Facebook post that has gained over 40-thousand likes, the owner, Paul Stenson, went on to announce that bloggers weren’t welcome, claiming that they’re too entitled. This move encouraged countless bloggers and several news outlets including BBC to pick up the story, several of whom claimed he was being extremely unfair to the blogger.
While some business owners might have taken the opportunity as a relatively low cost way to get their business in front of the eyes of her thousands of viewers. Stenson has managed to spin this into an even larger success. He’s made follow-up posts where he jokingly thanks all of the bloggers who have posted about the story for giving the small Irish lodge international free publicity. It seems now that through capitalizing on online outrage has given the White Moose Café more publicity than any paid promotion would have. Stenson has used the tactic of marketing through outrage in the past. His mockery of groups like vegans and people asking for gluten free foods has gotten the lodge into international news before and it seems to be only helping his business grow.
As companies like United Airlines and Chipotle would tell you, there certainly is such a thing as bad publicity, as online outrage damaged the image of the brand and hurt the wallets of both companies. There certainly seems to be a sweet spot for being able to profit off what might otherwise be considered bad press. Obviously, it helps that no one was hurt in this situation. The tactic used by Stenson and others seems to be to pick on a group that you know is likely to overreact and create an internet firestorm around his business, then sit back and watch the business come in from all of the attention. In the age of social media there might be a thin, but profitable line to walk of angering people for publicity.