A Legendary example of marketers responding to criticism

As anyone and everyone will inevitably find out in life, no matter how excellent you are at something, there will always be someone who thinks you’re just a little bit shit instead.

The Setup

I’m only going to deal with one example here, basically because it ticks all the right boxes regarding how to deal with negative reviews/experiences/feedback.

This is a promotional poster for Legend, a film starring my favourite enigmatic and shape-shifting actor, Tom Hardy:


What looks like your typical movie promotion poster actually holds a subtle and extremely clever trick which both acknowledges criticism and leverages it for positive outcomes from a marketing perspective.

The Criticism

It all begins with the pre-release critic’s screenings and reviews, most of which published recently, this week, globally.

As you can see, there are is almost universal acclaim for the film, with 4 or 5 stars dominating the image background. What you didn’t notice straight away, though, is the two star rating that was given in Benjamin Lee’s review from Britain’s The Guardian newspaper.


We are not amused!

Controlling the message

While it’s never a good idea for a marketer to directly respond to criticism, particularly in a way which is argumentative or confrontational, the marketers for this film have taken its namesake, making legends of themselves in the process!

Admittedly, it’s very difficult to take criticism of your work/product and not view it as directed to your own integrity, work ethic, etc…. Basically, you WILL take it personally. Rather than do that however, the promotional poster above provides us with a couple of important lessons:

1. Accept criticism… – Rather than argue their reasoning of why the criticism is, in their view, “wrong”, they have given it weight and placed it front and center for all to see.

2. But do it with humour – While front and center, it is, quite sneakily, using a bit of an optical illusion to hide that it is a poor review. Psychologically, a person will see this one, 2-star rating tucked in behind the characters’ heads and align it with what’s around it… at a glance, there are no poor reviews on this poster.

3. Drive it towards the positives – Following from the previous point, what do you see first? The 2-stars? Or the other 4 and 5-stars? Once you noticed the 2-star, did you think to yourself “Sure it’s negative, but it’s the only one!”. Whilst they’ve given it some weight, they’ve made sure its impact is minimal.

Even the author of the 2-star review, Benjamin Lee, has found the approach to be charming and disarming, taking the hiding of his review, in plain sight, like a champion with his own good humour:


Leveraging criticism for positive outcomes, with humour, is possibly the most effective way of maintaining control of your message. It can prevent any twitter-wars from flaring up and, if done properly, can drown out the criticism in a noise of surrounding positivity.

This poster does that in the perfect way, using it to spark further conversation, further discussion of the surrounding positive reviews and at the same time as acknowledging it’s negativity, removing the impact of that negativity and directing the reader to view it as an outlier in a sea of acclaim.

If there is an award for best reaction to a bad review, this is definitely the hands-down winner!

Posted from WordPress for Android


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