What comes to mind when you think of a cease-and-desist letter? A few paragraphs filled with legal verbiage, reprimanding and threatening a business or person for participating in some type of illegal activity? Usually, you’d be right. Most cease-and-desist letters follow a similar format and structure. However, Netflix stirred things up with latest recent cease-and-desist letter to an unauthorized bar themed around the company’s original series, Stranger Things.
Netflix made the letter casual and lighthearted–emulating the series and its characters’ overall mood and spirit. Ditching the typical formal greeting, the company started off the casually-written letter by addressing the owners of the bar by nickname, Danny and Doug. What followed was just as informal and playful, with references to the show’s notable use of walkie talkies, the Upside Down an even Dr. Brenner. However, despite the informal tone, the company made it very clear that if the owners didn’t shut the bar down, there would be serious consequences–like the Demogorgon or their mom getting involved (yikes!).
Showcasing Your Company’s Personality in an Unexpected Way
Although entertaining, the letter is much more profound as it showcases the company’s brilliant understanding of marketing. For years, companies have tried to showcase their personality to the public through different marketing materials. For companies with bigger budgets, these materials are usually in the form of commercials, provocative billboards and a strong social media presence. For those with smaller budgets, a grassroots approach is more likely to be utilized. However, would you ever consider a legal document with potentially serious ramifications as a form of marketing? Netflix demonstrated clever marketing which was leveraged as a solid public relations story that achieved their goal without tarnishing their reputation. Netflix enforced it copyrights while portraying itself as a fun and cool company, which is quite a feat.
In another unique example, McDonald’s flipped its iconic golden arches upside down across different outlets, including a branch’s outdoor sign, to celebrate International Women’s Day. The company could have simply sent out a tweet acknowledging the cause, but chose to make a serious statement and flipping one of their restaurant’s outdoor signs. In doing so, the company sent a message and strategically placed itself as a serious advocate of women, which consequently strengthened the company’s image of being socially responsible.
Ultimately, companies like Netflix and McDonald’s prove there are countless–and frequently overlooked–opportunities to spotlight and heighten your brand’s image. Whatever image you wish to present to the public, whether it’s a creative and user-friendly personality like Netflix’s or a socially-conscious and thoughtful personality like McDonald’s, could be conveyed through all aspects of your company. So, the next time your PR department is constructing a press release or your HR department is sending a letter of warning to a fellow employee, conceptualize ways your brand’s personality could shine through and be reinforced.