Be Sensitive and Be Good (week 11 blog)

There’s a slang in Indonesian which is ‘Jaim’ short for ‘jaga image’, which literally means ‘keep your image’. While this slang is often said to people trying to keep it cool, I personally believe that this is applicable to brands. Keeping your brand image has become increasingly important if you want to stay relevant.

Nowadays, brands have evolved into representations of our way of life (Roman and Maas, 2003, p. 11). We also project ourselves when consuming the brand (Kuksov et al., 2003, p. 294) Thus, when brand produces terrible ads that are not in line with our ways of living or our contemporary societal/cultural norms or context, we will be outraged and that is bad for the brand’s image.




A recent example of a ‘tone-deaf’ ad that tarnished the brand’s image would be Pepsi’s ad that featured Kendall Jenner. People (including me) were outraged to see an ad that exploits many contemporary issues, particularly Black Lives Matter. Trivialising their fights for social justice just to sell a can of soda very much belittles their struggles. Other minorities in the ad were also seen as accessories for this celebrity to make this ad seemed relevant but ultimately failed in the end because they had no other roles.

One terrible ad can do a bigger damage than you might think. While people would see this as just ‘another terrible ad’, others would see the brand as being culturally insensitive and might refrain them from being a consumer in the future. Now you know how important brand image is.



Kuksov, D., Shachar, R., and Wang, K. (2013) ‘Advertising and Consumers’ Communications’, Marketing Science, 32(2), pp. 294-309.

Roman, K. and Maas, J. (2013) How To Advertise: What Works, What Doesn’t – and Why, 3rd ed., London: Kogan Page