July 31, 2013 Articles

When Facebook (et al.) Attacks

Fighting business disparagement in the age of social media.

By Lorin Subar

In 1975, PepsiCo began one of the most successful and well-known head-to-head business competitions of all time, challenging its chief rival Coca-Cola to the “Pepsi Challenge.” The ads had an immediate effect on Pepsi’s sales. A survey in Dallas in 1976 showed a jump in market sales of Pepsi from 8 percent to 12–13 percent. The challenge had the hallmarks of good advertising in that it was open to public scrutiny and could be—and was—easily put to the test by anyone with a can of Coke, a can of Pepsi, and a blindfold. Unfortunately, companies now find themselves in the crosshairs of individuals and groups who feel free to disparage businesses with impunity, often relying on the anonymity of social networking sites. The issue is what businesses can do to protect their reputation from Internet attacks.

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