Should We Post the Ugly?

Is the attention-grab worth the association? The revulsion?

If you manage or create content or social or any sort of branding for a company, you’ve probably run across the question.

TL;DR: @@Do you post the ugly? Should you?@@    ←Freely respond here.

How it Came Up Today.

Batting around an idea to bring in some user-generated content for an eCommerce furniture company, I decided on a campaign with a photo call for backyards full of autumn colors. I told one of my sales associates, because all of the posts would include a coupon for our outdoor furniture. 

Co-worker: “We should ask for ugly backyards.”

Me: “Why?”

CW: “Then we can post the really ugly ones, and have people vote on which ones are the ugliest.”

Me: “Why … why would we do that?”

CW: “Because, then only the people with the ugliest backyards get the coupon.”

So should we post the ugly?

Let’s dig a little deeper. 

This is all I wanted, man. Photo by Photo by  Davide Ragusa  via @unsplash

This is all I wanted, man. Photo by Photo by Davide Ragusa via @unsplash

Me: “So you want me to ask potential customers to open themselves and their home up to public shaming?”

CW: “No, I want you to get people’s attention in a newsfeed, and I want you to give away fewer coupons, and I want you to get more engagement.”

Should we post the ugly?

Me: “Any attention is good attention, from your point of view?”

CW: “It’s better than no attention.”

Me: “We’re associating our luxury furniture with ugly on purpose. With negativity. Public negativity. Can you imagine what that page of content will look like? You want that to be what our customers, our potential customers think of us?”

CW: “Yes. It will look like we solved their problem. Imagine what that page will look like if they send us pictures after they have new furniture.”

Should we post the ugly?

Photo by  Kyle Ryan  via @ unsplash

Photo by Kyle Ryan via @ unsplash

I argued brand image and audience fit, he argued traffic and profit. 

As you might imagine, it hasn’t ended, and it got a little deeper than outdoor furniture. It got into the glittery optimism of Instagram versus the fear-mongering of Fox news. How airbrushing models affects young women’s self-esteem versus how a makeup company could otherwise sell makeup. 

But back to the solvable problem.

@@Where does interesting and different become disturbing and damaging?@@

Do you post the ugly, wherever you’re at? 

Do you refuse to post the ugly?

Where or how do you draw the line?