Here’s how to turn negative publicity into a positive positive – and also a good example of why accepting that “the customer is always right” can work for both sides.
Because when a drenched and disgruntled hiker in New Zealand used TikTok to complain about the waterproof jacket from The North Face she’d just bought not being waterproof, The North Face swept into action and helicoptered her a replacement.
Well, when we say swept into action, you have to take into account that the two videos were posted four days apart, allowing enough time for the original video to go viral, and giving The North Face’s marketing department enough time to set up the elaborate response.
Here’s the initial video, posted by American tourist Jennifer Jensen, who was hiking in New Zealand’s Queenstown region for her 30th birthday.
Claiming that her 'waterproof' jacket has left her drenched, she throws out a challenge to The North Face: redesign the jacket then deliver it to her on the top of Hooker Valley Lake in New Zealand. “I will be waiting. I’ll be the only one up here looking like a drowned rat. Waterproof my arse!”
The TikTok video quickly went viral (to date it’s had over 11.5 million views) so The North Face marketing team reached out to her and they set up the following TikTok response…
So Jensen didn’t exactly get the redesign she asked for, but she did get a nice new replacement jacket. And The North Face came out of it with a largely positive response, coming across as a company that cares.
The internet being the internet, though, the conspiracy theorists were out in force claiming it was all a setup. But Jensen reiterates a number of times in the comments that she’s not an influencer (indeed, this seems to be the first time she’s posted to TikTok and her Instagram following is fairly modest), she received no money from The North Face for the second video (though she did get a new coat), and she’s just a hiker who was pissed she got wet.
Though it’s still not clear if the jacket was faulty, badly designed, incorrectly labelled or just the wrong jacket for the job. But The North Face probably would have been onto a loser if they’d gone down that route in response. This way, they’ve turned a potential bad publicity into a canny marketing save.
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