May 10, 2021

How to stop your brand getting ‘cancelled’

How to stop your brand getting ‘cancelled’

There’s a fascinating phenomenon on Twitter, in which seemingly every day someone who finds popularity is almost instantly exposed and ‘cancelled’. It is referred to as getting ‘Milkshake Ducked’ – which is basically a reimagining of Tall Poppy syndrome for the internet age.

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While cancelling celebrities and attention seekers is becoming more common by the day, brands aren’t immune to the wrath of empowered customers who have found more collective influence online during a year of global pandemic.

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72% of consumers feel more empowered than ever before to share their thoughts or opinions about companies.

In fact, a recent study by Porter Novelli (Porter Novelli’s 2021 Business of Cancel Culture Study) claims that 36% of people they surveyed had cancelled a brand in the past 12 months. Alarmingly, 66% of people will still cancel a company if it does something wrong or offensive – even if they love their products or services.

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What happens if your brand gets ‘cancelled’

While getting cancelled isn’t recommended, smart brands can often turn these situations around and show how they have learned their lesson and grown – gaining fans as well as publicity during the process.

The best approach for brands who find themselves in a messy situation is shown by the customer expectations below:

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are more willing to forgive a company for making a mistake if it shows a genuine attempt to change.


would be likely to ‘uncancel’ a company if that organisation apologised and committed to make changes.


expect a public statement of apology and clarifying the situation.


percent said companies must go beyond a statement and work to create programs and policies internally to address the change needed.

17 %

felt a donation to an associated non-profit was enough to make amends.

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What does cancel culture mean for brands?

Cancel culture isn’t as doom and gloom as it sounds. In fact, most customers see cancel culture as a way to engage with companies – and change them for the better. This is supported by the fact that only 14% of people want companies they ‘cancel’ to go away permanently.

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73% of those surveyed said they’re less likely to cancel a purpose-driven brand.

The biggest challenge facing modern brands is authenticity. This is where brands with purpose flourish, not only when attracting customers – but in retaining them during any small hiccups or missteps. Having a purpose that you and your customers truly believe in, is the best protection against potentially long-term negative attention.

Fortunately, creating authentic purpose-driven brands is what we do every day. If you’d like to protect your business against cancel culture, we’re here to help.

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