While we hear so many accounts of backlash from PR and advertising campaigns where marketers didn’t do their homework, American Girl is a shining example of a company that experienced an onslaught of criticism from a product launch and completely retooled the process to deter similar repercussions with subsequent products.
American Girl produces historical-based characters with an accompanying book series and doll and The New York Times recently reported on the painstaking efforts and years of research and development that went into creating the brand’s newest character Rebecca, the daughter of Russian-Jewish immigrants living in Manhattan in 1914.
In 1993 when American Girl released the character Addy, an African-American girl who was a slave at the start of the book series, critics unleashed a wave of attacks. Learning from its mistakes, the company spent years creating Rebecca’s background drawing upon historical researchers, focus groups, and religious leaders.
As a result, Rebecca received a stamp of approval from Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, and as described by The New York Times, an individual that is “not easy to impress.” In fact, the article reports that Mr. Foxman couldn’t find anything wrong with Rebecca’s appearance or her novels. He goes on to say “It’s not offensive. It’s sensitive. How about that?”
I can’t say enough about the importance of taking time for due diligence before the start of a project. At the core of every Curley & Pynn project you will find a solid foundation of research. It’s one of the keystones to our firm’s unique strategy-driven approach to public relations and what allows us to develop programs with the greatest amount of impact for our clients.