The North Face broke a cardinal rule of marketing…they cheated.
If you haven’t heard this story yet, we’ll give you the Cliff Notes version to catch you up.
The long and the short is that The North Face, with guidance from ad agency, Leo Burnett Tailor Made, manipulated Wikipedia pages and replaced images of famous locations with pictures that featured their products in an attempt to rank at the top for those search results.
The North Face gamed the system and while they might have improved their Google rank, they tarnished their brand and their rank in the eyes of the consumer.
This entire scenario provides valuable lessons that every marketer should lean in on and understand when running their own campaigns.
Let’s explore this a little more…
Marketing and Patience
In the world of marketing, it’s easy and tempting to want to take a shortcut to get a project or task off of your to-do list or to quickly impress a client.
Short-term temptations bring us full-circle to the importance of patience in marketing.
Sure, we all want 10x growth fast and for our campaigns to instantly generate positive results but that’s simply not the case. There’s no magic wand that can make that happen.
Instead, no BS marketing takes time and effort.
North Face wanted to improve their Google search rank for particular keywords and rather than taking the patient, measured approach of leveraging market research, crafting creative messaging around their Big Idea and tactically driving the marketing operations around that plan, they took a short-cut and sacrificed long-term gains for a short-term “blurry win.”
Short-term Blurry Wins will never trump long-term success.
Consumer & Brand Relationship
There is no relationship in business that’s more important than that of the consumer and the brand.
Without the consumer, the brand wouldn’t be able to survive.
Just like any strong relationship, the consumer/brand relationship is rooted in trust and transparency.
This move to pull a fast one on consumers and the Google algorithm violated both.
When it comes to The North Face, their attempt to cheat the system will prove to be detrimental for the brand in the present and future because their audience will remember that they took shortcuts and lied about their efforts to try and win their attention.